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Keep inspiration nearby
My laptop sits atop a large desk calendar. Color-coded dates peek out from the edges as I work, and it comforts me to know there's order there, especially on days when my mind feels more chaotic than calm. Behind each month's page, three pages rest, places where I can make notes for future pitches, ideas for my latest fiction projects and anything that comes to mind while I'm working.
I love my little workspace. I love my calendar. And on days when that love falters, I run my fingers over the words printed along the side of every single page: "I write only because/There is a voice within me/That will not be still." (Sylvia Plath) Her words remind me why writing is carved into my heart, why taking away my computer or my deadlines wouldn't stop the words from needing to be loosened from somewhere within me.
Writers talk inspiration
An informal survey of writers, bloggers and photographers affirmed that sometimes creativity stalls — and creative people look to others for a little inspirational boost. Favorite quotes ranged from the familiar to the obscure, with sources from fellow writers to philosophers and activists. Some let quotations work from within — changing their attitude and perspective — while others look for encouragement that they're on the right creative path.
Finding strength in words
Some days — some years — seem to conspire against you. On days when sheer will is the only thing getting you through the day without bursting into tears, it can help to have a mantra to keep you feeling strong.
For a year, Mandy Dawson kept Gandhi's words taped to her bathroom mirror: "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
Elaine Alguire knows she must create her own happiness, and Jim Rohn reminds her, "Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present."
Albert Einstein said brilliant things about science and learning, but Alison Lee prefers his perspective on the wonder one can find each day. She loves the quote: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
Define yourself on your own terms
When juggling life roles like a jester with too many balls in the air, trying to pigeonhole yourself into a particular definition or set of rules can frustrate instead of clarify. These writers know it's more important to live fully and take risks than it is to follow a set formula for success.
-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Kristin Shaw finds inspiration in quotes about strong women. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich reminds her, "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
Abraham Lincoln's simple advice gets Kerstin Auer to work just a little bit harder: "Whatever you are, be a good one."
Push back at impossible
Creative people often find themselves teetering between the need to create and the doubt that what they're creating has merit. When faced with self-doubt, words can be a powerful catalyst to keep chasing your dreams.
Jennifer P. Williams looks to the iconic Audrey Hepburn when faced with obstacles standing in the way of her goals. Hepburn said, "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!"
Muhammad Ali always welcomes a challenge, and Kirsten Piccini bolsters herself with his words: "Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare."
Cameron D. Garriepy knows her goals are lofty, and she isn't shying away from the hard work it will take to reach those goals. She finds power in Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three: "Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart."
Writers supporting writers
When in doubt, writers can look to other writers for direction. Who better to use words to inspire, encourage and dare creativity to blossom?
If Roxanne Piskel feels writer's block creeping into her head, she goes back to her favorite phrase. Beth Revis said, "My inspiration tends to come from two words. The two most important words to a writer: What if?"
Bloggers present their words to the internet, and those words have the potential to make others uncomfortable. Katie Sluiter keeps an Anne Lamott quote taped inside her journal. Lamott said, "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."
Elizabeth Yon looks to the no-nonsense Stephen King when she needs a little extra motivation. In On Writing, King says, "Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work."
In case the question ever arises about the importance of creativity in our lives, Kameko Murakami turns to Ray Bradbury's explanation in Zen in the Art of Writing. Bradbury says, "We have our Arts so that we won't die of Truth."