Inspiration is for amateurs

An Austin Kleon interview led me to this Brain Pickings post with this from painter Chuck Close:

“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.” -Chuck Close

I’m still trying to learn this. Too often I’m waiting for the right mood, for an idea to grab me before getting busy making something.

I need to “just show up and get to work” every day and maybe working will lead to me grabbing an idea rather than the other way around. And if I do nothing but bad work, it’s better than no work. And bad work just might lead to something that’s kind of good. You can’t get to great without starting somewhere. Starting is the essential thing.

I keep coming back to Gretchen Rubin‘s starkly simple reminder from the potent little book on work habits, Manage Your Day-to-Day:


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