Why Inspiration Is For Amateurs

As bloggers, vloggers, social media influencers and online content creators, we are constantly searching for the next big, fun and potentially profitable idea. I’ve always said that overcoming writer’s block isn’t really a valid excuse, because writer’s block is the default status and not the exception. You need to be consistent and you need to deliver quality, time and time again.

Something that I hear a lot from beginning bloggers and other people who want to post content on the Internet is that they’re just waiting until inspiration strikes. They’re waiting until they feel inspired to create something truly unique, valuable and hopefully popular too. And so they wait. And they wait. And they learn and they read and they watch. But they don’t create, because they’re not feeling inspired. And that’s how they get stuck in a rut as amateurs.

Revered American painter and photographer Chuck Close is best known for his massive scale, photorealistic portraits. He once said this about inspiration:

Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.

It may sound utterly cliche, but simply showing up is the hardest part. And it’s not just about showing up once or twice, now and then. It’s about deciding that you’ll show up every day and put in the work, even when you don’t really feel like it, because you have faith that it’ll all pay off in the end.

Simply waiting around for inspiration will get you nowhere. True, the work that you put out — whether it’s a blog post, a YouTube video, an e-book, or even an Instagram post — might not be the greatest and you’ll probably create some utter garbage along the way. At the same time, all it takes is one home run (or even a simple base hit) to get you back on the board. You miss all the shots you don’t take, so you may as well take as many shots as you can.

We all have to start somewhere, so don’t worry if you can’t quite measure up to the pros just yet. Have faith that you’ll get there and the simple act of showing up, consistently and diligently, with the same effort and passion on the 10th day or the 100th day as you do on the first day is how you’ll move that needle forward.

Chuck Close continues:

The belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great [idea].

When I look back at some of the blogging I did in my earlier days over a decade ago, I cringe. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t all that great, but it was good enough to “kick open other doors” for my freelance career. That’s how I came to cover massive tech events like CES in Las Vegas and how I came to become a regular writer here on John Chow dot Com.

Just showing up and putting my work “out there” consistently and reliably was enough to get noticed and that’s how I’m able to eke out my humble professional existence today as a freelance writer. There really is no replacement for putting in the time, regardless of how much “inspiration” or “talent” you have driving it all.

The belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you [did] today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.

On some level, success is predicated on a little bit of stubbornness. Call it tenacity or perseverance if you want to be a little more positive about it, but the truth is that you do need to be stubborn to succeed. You need to stick with something even when it doesn’t really look like it’s working. Just keep putting in the hours and work to improve what you do.

Don’t wait for inspiration to come knocking on your door. Instead, you’ve got to kick down that door yourself. It just takes time.