I just got done with my mastermind meeting that takes place every other week and I was reminded of a key concept that I had forgotten in the recent years.
Inspiration is Perishable.
As I write this, I find myself having to create this entire post “right now” and not later because, well, I’m inspired to write about it at this moment. Currently, right now, I’m realizing that my inspiration to write this post is perishable. The concept and idea of inspiration is perishable was solidified from the writings in the book ReWork by Jason Friend and DHH. Its a great read, check it out.
Peak Inspiration has a Short Shelf Life
The concept of “inspiration is perishable” is simple and very easy to understand. Just as fruit in the basket on your kitchen counter has a shelf life, so does your inspiration. Unfortunately inspiration for a developer, designer, writer, engineer, entrepreneur, musician, videographer or anyone creative is very brief compared to even the short shelf life of a banana. You have to take advantage of inspiration when it hits and just ride the flow that it provides. Once its gone, its gone – it rarely (if ever) comes back in the same form. Right now, is right now and it will never happen again – take advantage of it.
Inspiration sometimes peaks for an hour. Sometimes it peaks and holds at that level of intensity for 4 hours. But it rarely lasts a full day. Exploding an utilizing that peak inspiration can be exhausting and draining but the results of what you can create during that peak inspiratory time block are usually spectacular. The best things I’ve ever created have been during peak inspiration. This includes my best selling Android Development book, my top blog posts and some of the best product features and code I’ve created or designed. All created during peak inspiration.
Its important to note that I’m not talking about the evergreen inspiration that some of us possess to become a successful or to complete a marathon project that has a lofty goal. Examples of lofty long term evergreen inspiring goals would include:
- Launching a new SAAS product
- Creating a new full length audio album
- Training for a 26 mile marathon race
- Producing a hit indie movie
The type of inspiration I’m referring to is the inspiration to create a portion of content in a short of amount of time when that inspiration is at its peak. The content could be a one of the following:
- A blog post
- A new feature for your product
- A design for your app/client/etc
- A new cool design in Photoshop
- A new track for a new song (think guitar track or drum beat, etc)
Usually you’ll find these these bursts of inspiration are very short.
So how do you know when this type of inspiration is going to hit?
Peaks of inspiration do not come with a warning or any precursors – they just hit you like an avalanche of emotion that overwhelms all of your available thought processes. You’ll know when it hits. Its the feeling you get when you feel so passionate about something that you immediately feel the need to create something because of it. This happens a lot in many creative types such as musicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, designers, etc.
If you’re a musician, you’ve had it hit at random times. You hear a tune, you get off the phone with someone, you see something in person that affects you – feel a certain way – then it hits … and it hits hard. You get inspired. You pick up the keyboard or guitar (or whatever you play) and you just start magically making something phenomenal with minimal effort. This, is the inspiration I’m talking about.
If you’re a tech/engineering/design type of person you’ve had this happen when you’ve realized you know how to solve a problem and you feel the overwhelming feel to drop everything you’re doing to go implement what you’re thinking about. You cant get it out of your head, it makes sense, its “flowing” and the thought consumes you. You’re excited about it beyond comprehension. This, is the inspiration I’m talking about.
Sure, you can escape and deflect your peak inspiration if you want – but you shouldn’t. Peak inspiration is where the magic can (and usually does) happen. Don’t ignore it. Your inspiration will perish. Don’t say “Wow, this is a great idea/etc, I’ll do this later”. Chances are, you wont. At that point you’ve let your inspiration perish. Take advantage of it and ride the wave of inspiration, you’ll be surprised at what you create and share with the world.
Remember, inspiration is perishable – take advantage of it while you can.
A side note about inspiration and “The Madness” …
Understanding the idea of peak inspiration is easy, but relating it can be hard at times. Thankfully Jason Roberts and Justin Vincent coined the term “The Madness” on their podcast, TechZing. “The Madness” is a form peak inspiration. Its when you’re so inspired that you can’t get the thought out of your head and you have to work on it. You become consumed and work at a blistering pace and produce amazing things in fractions of time that it would normally take you. This is called “The Madness”. You become overly consumed with your work through your inspiration and it consumes you. If you’ve fallen into this realm of peak inspiration and you’ve taken advantage of it and come out the other side amazed at the items you’ve created then you’ve had a case of “The Madness”.