When Inspiration Falls Flat

I’m a month deep into an advertising class. The clock is ticking, my paper is blank. How can I sell Dick’s Drive In to families? As I stare at the paper, its whiteness swimming larger and larger in my eyes, all I can think of are bad sexual innuendos. No—not even innuendos—just hit-you-over-the-head-bad jokes about male anatomy.

I put the paper away and pull up a blank document. I type “INSPIRATION” at the top. I draw a blank and go to Google, the God of my universe. I get a million and one hits in a fraction of a second. I scroll through hundreds. There is a formula: start with a metaphor about sports or the outdoors, add in a nod to failure, a splash of self actualization, and end with a dash of “here and now” talk.

Inspiration, whether for an ad no one will read or a way to solve that pesky bouldering problem, is finicky. It comes and goes as it pleases. And yet, anyone with an ounce of creativity knows, you must act anyways.

I think, despite the droning on of all the similar quotes I read, that the formula is true. When I need a shot of inspiration to jump-start a flopping failure of an idea (or lack thereof), I draw my attention to something concrete, acknowledge my failure, and then move on into the present moment.

Because, while revelation may be days away, there is still work to do. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but rarely do I feel the need to leave the warmth of my own bed to hit the trail. And rarer still do I feel the desire to grasp a piece of paper and write a perfect solution to a problem. And yet, as a creative and an adventurer, I do, whether or not inspiration is taking the lead.


What do you do when inspiration is no where to be found?