Wrestling With the Inspiration to Write


Sometimes, I dream and when I wake I remember. Immediately upon waking I used to jot those down those things I dreamed lest I forget them until I realized the ones worth keeping and turning into stories tend to be the ones I remembered despite whatever the reality of the waking world throws at me. The best dreams, the ones that make the best stories of all, are those I dream many times, and sometimes while I’m still awake.

The problem with dreams and dreamers is that neither are accepted as part of the adult world, yet it is the dreams of dreamers that bring change to the mundane world around us. As I see it, there are a couple of wrong assumptions out there that are the source of the confusion. They are truisms that aren’t really true, at least not as they are traditionally applied. Both have their origins well before their or even the prior century. One is British and the other is American.


The British one comes from Kipling’s famous poem, about dreaming and not making dreams your master. Not being controlled by one’s dreams will make you grown-up. There is a lot of truth in this one that conceals the lie – which is always the flaw in accepted truths. It is not about dreaming or even choosing which dreams you will follow. What is intended to be taken front he poem is that we choose to be adult and in doing so we set aside our childlike innocence and belief in dreams. Although this is absolutely true if one wants to behave as a responsible adult, it also conveys why responsibility hinders one’s creativity, distancing us from our dreams and inspiration. Pursuing practicality, very often, is the reason we do not realize our creative potential. We listen to others and their conventional wisdom in lieu of what we know, deep inside of us, that is our true destination.

The second conventional wisdom is a saying taught to us in school: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The saying originated in the 18th century, in colonial America and maybe other places as well. It is attributed to a school teacher in the early 19th Century who wrote it into a lesson plan that was widely used. His intentions were good, challenging students to no give up in the process of learning. It’s  the fundamental concept is flawed. You see, telling someone to try establishing trial as good enough for a goal and that even in the face of failure, trying remains good enough. That is why people give the excuse, “But I tried” for each instance of failure.  It’s crazy to try and continue to try because doing something the wrong way will never lead to success. The seemingly harmless saying to engage students to never give up sews the very seeds of accepting effort as good enough in lieu of success.


A classic demonstration of this fallacy of trying is challenging someone to try to do something simple. They will, invariably, fail to try by actually doing. You see, as adults  we skip over the word specific instruction to merely ‘try’ in that challenge because we hear the  stated goal. Fro example, drop your keys on the floor and then challenge someone to try picking them up for you. When they hand your keys back to you, they have failed to try by succeeding in doing. Success comes when you fail to try anymore and simply decide to do things.

Believing these misleading truisms defeats the process of acquiring natural inspiration. The artist inside every child dies a little bit each time he or she deviates away from their dreams. Whenever challenged to adopt something of the adult world, distance is created between the child and the innocent belief in infinite possibilities. The few who emerge from the process of maturation with the creative connection in tact have been allowed to dream and pursue inspiration in all its various forms. The connection, though strained by the challenges of conforming to what adults call reality, has not be severed. Those who choose to suppress their creative impulses are rarely satisfied with their lives. The substitute other things, acquiring material evidence of success by society’s definitions. But in the background of their routine lives there is a longing to return to childhood, finding a way back to the idyllic simplicity of waking up each morning with he only objective being to enjoy everything about life.


Writers, like other artistic types, can reconnect with the inner child. They can draw inspiration from those parts of the world that practical, adult-minded people overlook.  Whole most people  do not have the time to appreciate the value of life and living it to be happy, those who can connect to the childlike dreamer inside can be happy in the process of expressing his or her creativity. While everyone else suffers in various degrees of misery, someone who pursues life as the adventure it is intended will find fulfillment.

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