Cycling into work one Wednesday morning, a taxi pulled out in front of me, knocked me off my bike and broke my shoulder. Not exactly the start to the New Year I had been planning. And so, instead of writing this piece about inspiration, I am dictating it into my iPhone. Thank God for technology.
But the incident did put me in mind of one of my personal heroes, Stephen King. King was struck by a car several years ago and, besides nearly dying one of the things he found most frustrating was his inability to write. This must’ve been particularly frustrating for the famous horror author because his drive and desire to write borders on obsessive.
You might think that someone with Stephen King’s success and wealth would take a somewhat laid-back approach to his writing. That he would fit it in around cocktail parties, expensive holidays, and waxing his jet. Well you would be wrong. Stephen King writes every day. And he does this because he knows more than anyone that if you want inspiration to strike, you have to be available for it.
This is what the man himself says about inspiration: “there is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative-fairy dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he is on duty), but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”
I find Stephen King’s attitude to inspiration hugely inspiring. We do what we do because we love it. And If we want to produce humanly relevant communications that rise above the cacophony of noise and information that bombards us every day … then we need to roll up our sleeves and work bloody hard at it.
And you can’t argue with the man that brought us The Shining.
-Andy Jones, creative director, Woolley Pau gyro