Where is my inspiration?

To be creative, to be innovative, a person needs inspiration. We call it the fire in the head, with reference to Yeats. For much of my adult life, it’s been a given – a head full of ideas and a heart full of a passion for creating. What happens if it isn’t there, or if it goes away?

When finding the words for a blog post, or a simple email takes considerable effort.

Last summer, I decided to change tack and try to sort out more of my general body and mental health issues rather than worrying about where my inspiration had gone. My theory was that fixing those things might well solve the awen issue anyway. I can’t say it has. I take more time off, rest more, I’ve tried to increase the amount of stuff I’m exposed to that could inspire me, but the fire in my head is just old, cold ashes.

A few observations on life for this blog is the best, and often the only writing I do in a day. I’m not often motivated to get out an instrument, or to learn new music. I’ve written a couple of poems in the last six months. Nothing comes. Nothing sparks. Nothing flows.

I know if I was talking to anyone else about this, I would tell them that inspiration is something we’re all entitled to, and so is creativity. I’d tell them that their creativity mattered, and was wanted and needed.

Part of the trouble is that I know that fiction and poetry are the least helpful things I can do with my time. There are so many creative people struggling right now, because the creative industries are an exploitative mess. The world has more writers than it needs, by factors of a lot. It needs more reviewers and book bloggers and readers and people who support the idea of creative culture. Doing that has become my day job, and I do it well.

Being a creative person can make you the centre of attention, make you feel important, and valued. That’s attractive, and it’s part of why so many people want to write books and so forth. Giving up on the idea that my vision (now absent) my creativity (now lacking) is important is part of the process I’m in. I think what I can make as a creative person is less useful, less needed than what I can do by spending my time and energy on blogs and social media supporting other writers and creative people.

How do I justify giving time over to writing, when I could be helping other people? And that’s without opening the can of worms that is activism and the need to change and fix so many things in the world. Fiction is the least useful thing I can do right now. I think it’s this awareness, beyond all else, that has cost me my creative inspiration. Nothing has come into my head that seemed big enough, powerful enough, intense enough, passionate enough to be more important than any of the other things I could do with my time.

Maybe, if I push the other way, I can make it more feasible for other creative people to create. I do believe that has worth, and the more I can do there, the more worth it will have.

Last autumn I thought long and hard about rededicating to the bard path, but am increasingly thinking that what I need to do is dedicate myself to other people’s bardistry instead.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

22 responses to “Where is my inspiration?

  • Ryan C.

    I know the feeling, I’ve not done any writing at all lately, even my blog has gone into hibernation. But I hope you find your awen again. I don’t think the world has more writers than it needs, and I think every writer can offer a unique perspective. I’d also say that perhaps in a time when the world seems bleak, fiction and writing may not be the least useful thing you can do, but may be the most useful, shining a new light on the world and showing it not just as it is but as it could be. I, at least, find your writing inspirational.

    • Nimue Brown

      I am deeply touched by this, and aware that loss of faith in my work is part of what’s going on here. I really don’t know what to do with that. It’s a wall I crash into every time I get enough momentum to even try…

  • Elisa

    I need not these things! I was created as a Creator! I Create. I Express. I AM! 🙂 Everything is creation, even destruction, tis up to me how I perceive it and what I might do about it, if anything at all. Do I tend to have personal preferences, ideas, and perceptions about how I, goddess of all (lol) would organize them? YES and then someone says This Too Shall Pass! The ‘good’ the ‘bad’ and all in between passes. Float on the water Nimue Brown! 😉

    • Nimue Brown

      Thank you for this. I don’t know if it will – it’s been an increasing problem for years. I think for now I need to dig in and find out why this is happening, which is not going to be pleasant, but may prove useful. I see the passion in your words, and I remember having that, from there to here was a process I didn’t see until it was too late, from here to there is a mystery, at the moment.

      • Elisa

        maudlin thinking for me is stinkin thinkin, it tells me life and i go nowhere until i fix the ‘problem’ (i make up problems if I can’t find any)
        Living in Today, and today only can seem like a harder thing to do than to keep trying to find out why. Instead I can accept Today as it is and Live anyway, despite, fill in the blank and I get Joy. Everything that I think I Have, feelings options, external stuff, is like the element of air. My inner flame, even down to the last tiny glowing spark at some places in life is MY job. If I have doubt, I can check on it, ‘pray’ on it. The how I feel it, notice it WILL change, everything changes. When I choose to see this change as losing something, I tend to suffer. The Stinkin thinker say s SEEEEE i TOLD you you would LOSE, ect. I just give the thinker a small piece of cake and tell it I am going to do …..now instead. I let it come along if it wishes to do so, but, it’s not allowed to speak. All of life changes just like that water. So I suggest changing the view, don’t decide if it is good/bad, think outside the binary 🙂 I wish you well!

      • Nimue Brown

        I think I can see where you’re coming from. Where I’m coming from is 20 years of writing, in an industry that is destroying people. Comics artists dying young in America, in abject poverty. 95% of authors can’t make enough to live on yet the publishing industry in the UK is worth £1.5 billion a year. Watching lovely, brilliant, creative people battle their own despair, and wanting to help them because they deserve so much better. Watching people who you’d think would be financially secure as creatives struggle to make ends meet and never able to take a break. That kind of thing. it’s not self indulgent melancholy, it’s a deep grief born of being witness to huge, real, ongoing problems that are hurting a lot of people I care about. my own wavering flame seems like a small consideration in that wider context.

  • Kevan Manwaring

    Always believe you have something of worth, of value to offer – not in a self-aggrandising way, just … ‘this is my truth, what is yours?’ or ‘I’ve noticed this beautiful/profound/unusual/funny thing and I wanted to articulate it and share it’. A self-reflexive life is all part of being a fully conscious human being alive on this planet at this time – and we need as many of those as possible! Empathy comes from using the imagination – a ‘spiritual organ’, as Coleridge puts it, that will atrophy if not used. Reflecting upon the human condition – and fiction in particular can excel like no other form in depicting the actuality of existence and human consciousness – is an essential part of being alive, processing the universe, gleaning wisdom from our shared experience, and, in doing so, offering help, inspiration and sometimes simply pure escapism for others. But saying all that – it’s also good to bear in mind that ‘you need the fallow to have the fertile’. Enjoying others’ awen can renitrate your imagination. We should all support one others’ creativity. Inspire and be inspired.

  • Linda Davis

    Thank you for sharing this with us Nimue. It’s an experience many of us struggle with, in our individual ways. I thought it had gone for me too, then after many years, the odd poem has started popping up. This has happened without me trying or anything, and yes I know discipline is a part of creating, but sometimes I think we just need to accept that we’re in a fallow season (even though it hurts like hell!) and let the awen blow where it will, possibly in somebody elses direction. What you are doing now is tremendously helpful to lots of us, but don’t give up hope that inspiration will come to you again. The taking care of yourself that you rightly embraced last year was maybe lke preparing the ground for future growth? Take heart from the Spring 🌱💚
    Blessings x

    • Nimue Brown

      thank you Linda. I’ll keep with the blog – every time I’ve hit a serious low in the past people have asked me to keep the blog going, and so I do, I’m usually able to find something for content. I’m really seeing this time how much broader an issue this is than just me, so I’m going to try and make better sense of it.

  • vehemenceandemergence

    Two things:”Part of the trouble is that I know that fiction and poetry are the least helpful things I can do with my time.” I disagree! Self-expression is the most important thing you can do with your time because when you create it means that you are in an open and receptive place and that is when we make the most difference. And it doesn’t have to be something that changes the lives of others, the best work is the work that teaches us about ourselves. I have written poems and forgotten bout them and come back to them and when I find them again I realize that there were messages for me, from me, right there the whole time!
    and you said “Fiction is the least useful thing I can do right now. I think it’s this awareness, beyond all else, that has cost me my creative inspiration.” Inspiration is not the only tool for creativity. Inspiration is like happiness, a temporary state of elation that cannot be relied upon. When you say
    “Nothing has come into my head that seemed big enough, powerful enough, intense enough, passionate enough to be more important than any of the other things I could do with my time.” it sounds like you are putting too much pressure on yourself. Write everything down! Record it, leave messages for your future self and maybe your future self will be inspired by what you once thought was not good enough!
    You got this! Keep being authentic and expressing yourself and the power, the intensity, and passion will find you!

    • Nimue Brown

      Thank you for this – I’ve realised as part of what’s come back around this blog that I’m not in an open and receptive place, that’s part of it, and I think i know why, having talked to other creative souls whoa re struggling to create. Inspiration has not been a temporary state for me for most of my life, it’s been key to my thinking and being – odd as that may seem. it’s a considerable loss for me, a loss of self, which is why I’ve taken it so badly.

      • vehemenceandemergence

        I’m sorry to hear that! Perhaps you can store it away in memories, places or things? I feel intense inspiration when I read poetry and there is one particular line from William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell that gets me charged up and I have honestly written my best poetry after reading it. I totally understand how your’re feeling, a friend of mine once wrote a line in a poem that has always resonated with me when I feel disconnected from my inspiration and creativity: “Where did I put my god?” I hope you find the place where you left it!

      • Nimue Brown

        thank you for that. I’ve been offered a ‘bardic intervention’ which I’ve said yes to, there may be ways forward…

      • vehemenceandemergence

        I have to know what a bardic intervention is!?

      • Nimue Brown

        As yet, all is mystery!

  • Aurora J Stone

    This is a powerful statement, Nimue. I have been through desert times, literally and figuratively. They were hellish. But I always felt the pull to create, to write, to be,which for me is all bound up together is inescapable. I find your works here are creative — you drop your thought deep into the well and draw up words that resonate, have meaning profound and often uncomfortable. You urge me to think. I don’t always agree, and I don’t share your wider issues, but I have my own and reading your expressions of how you approach the challenges you face gives me courage, shows there is always hope. Where there is hope there is the space for creativity.

    When you review you engage with the work you are commenting on from the perspective of a creative person. I think you need to follow you heart. Perhaps your heart really rests more with music, song, words linked to sound very viscerally and directly. I cannot say. Perhaps writing a blog everyday saps your energy, Maybe it is time to not analyse yourself so much and let yourself be. I have found that looking hard for something usually means I don’t find it.

    Whatever path you take, you are supported here by your followers who want what makes you feel you are contributing where you believe you can do so in the most productive and fulfilling way. Blessings.

  • lornasmithers

    ‘Part of the trouble is that I know that fiction and poetry are the least helpful things I can do with my time. There are so many creative people struggling right now, because the creative industries are an exploitative mess. The world has more writers than it needs, by factors of a lot. It needs more reviewers and book bloggers and readers and people who support the idea of creative culture. Doing that has become my day job, and I do it well…

    Giving up on the idea that my vision (now absent) my creativity (now lacking) is important is part of the process I’m in. I think what I can make as a creative person is less useful, less needed than what I can do by spending my time and energy on blogs and social media supporting other writers and creative people…

    Last autumn I thought long and hard about rededicating to the bard path, but am increasingly thinking that what I need to do is dedicate myself to other people’s bardistry instead.’

    It’s interesting, but slightly troubling to hear this. I really really enjoy your poetry and loved ‘When We Are Vanished’. Personally I’d rather read your poetry and fiction than plugs for other people’s books (not that I don’t appreciate those too – particularly as you’ve helped me out loads!).

    I’ve been through similar thoughts about the mess the creative industry is in and the fact only a few people respond to or buy my work. But I know I couldn’t give it up as poetry, storytelling, writing, sharing research etc. is my vocation as an awenydd. Without it I’d face a kind of spiritual death.

    I commend your generosity in supporting others, but can’t help feeling we (ie. your audience) and possibly you (although I can’t judge not being you!) would lose something if you gave up your own bardic/inspirational path.

  • lornasmithers

    I’m sure if this will be any help but I’ve been finding a lot of my inspiration on The Dark Mountain website recently. This is one of many recent posts about the powers we’re up against and why bringing our stories into the world is important – http://dark-mountain.net/blog/the-mythos-we-live-by-uncolonising-our-imagination/

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