on inner critics and inspiration

 This week I happened upon a quote which said,

'You don't have to wait to speak until you have something profound to say. People connect to humanness, not expertness.' Dr Jenn Hardy

So here I am, not waiting until I have anything particularly profound to say, but diligently writing a little bit here, a little bit there, because words whirl and swirl around me, and sometimes I want to pen them down to make sense of them.

I realised that if I want to write, I have to learn how to get a little better at silencing my inner critic. Their voice is incredibly loud and I have grown very accustomed to succumbing to the thoughts that this inner critic shares with me of my writing being useless, boring, a waste of people's time to read, all of that kind of negativity. So, in my pursuit of working out how, exactly, to keep that critic in check, I started re-reading a few books which had been helpful to me in the past: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (a book all about resistance, what it looks like and how to overcome it) and Big Magic by Liz Gilbert (a book about creative living beyond fear). Re-reading Big Magic reminded me of how inspiration works, and how inspiration requires an openness on our part to receive whatever it might be that inspiration will bring our way. Now, I appreciate that to some of you, this is all going to sound a little odd, but that is ok. Inspiration is a little odd and intriguing at times.

'Most of all, be ready. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiousity. Ask questions. Sniff around,.Remain open. Trust in the miraculous truth that new and marvellous ideas are looking for human collaborators every single day. Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping towards us, constantly trying to get our attention. Let them know you're available. And for heaven's sake, try not to miss the next one.' Liz Gilbert, Big Magic.

Here is the interesting part. I realised that I had probably not been very receptive to inspiration, particularly as I had been letting the voice of my inner critic sing loudly for a long time. So, as I set off on a bike ride at dusk the other night, I had a little chat with inspiration to let it know that I would be cycling, moving faster than my normal ambling speed (in line with my sixteenth month old), so if it wanted to pay me a visit on my cycle, I was very welcoming and receptive. Well. Inspiration did not seem to be galloping towards me as I rode around in the beautiful Spring time evening warmth with the thick scent of pollen and barbeque's hanging heavy in the air.

Instead, inspiration decided to greet me in the very small hours of the night last night. We like to play musical beds in our family. When I say, 'like', it is perhaps most definitely hyperbole. Our children like to keep company through the night, and often that means switching beds here, there and everywhere. Last night, my youngest was particularly keen on keeping company with me. After I had nursed him back to sleep for the umpteenth time, congratulated myself on managing to stay awake until he was asleep again so that I could return to the comfort of my own lovely bed, my husband and I crossed paths on the landing outside our bedroom. He informed me that our eldest was in our bed on the way up to the loft to settle our middle child back to sleep. It was in that moment immediately after our 2am hallway exchange (I actually have no idea what time it was - I stopped looking at the clock in the middle of the night a good long time ago) that inspiration decided to greet me. As I lay in bed, sinking back into slumber under the wonderful weight of my duvet, a poem arrived, almost fully formed. Seriously? That is the worst time for inspiration to arrive. I really value my sleep and so I stubbornly ignored inspiration (although I did repeat the words a few times mentally in the hope that when I was more lucid, my short term memory would kick in and help me out). Not so, my friends, not so. That poem vanished.

So to conclude, I am still learning how to collaborate with inspiration, and maybe next time, I need to talk a little more politely and remind inspiration that I already have three children breaking my sleep, so I would be extremely grateful if inspiration could pay me a visit another time. I would be delighted to collaborate with inspiration, just not at 2am.