A blank sheet of paper… a blank screen… a blank canvas… your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fill it. And, of course, you so chose. That’s why you are sitting there staring at it, feeling as if the only thing likely to self-destruct is the agent.

There are days like that. Sometimes it is the motivation that has been cut from under your feet by events beyond your control … events large or petty… and the fact that they can affect you so much says more, perhaps, about yourself than about the event. Sometimes the desire to begin, or to achieve… or to have finished… is itself so strong that it floods the surface of the mind and the flood barriers go up, shutting out the flow of inspiration.

A ticking clock, a knowledge of other obligations curtailing time seems to shrink it and before you have begun it will be time to stop. Or confidence suddenly takes a holiday and self-doubt takes advantage to rear up like a jack-in-a-box, mocking your dreams and flights of fancy.

Sometimes there is just you and the starkly virginal page in a world where nothing, not even thought, seems to exist. The moment may be brief, but it feels as if it stretches into eternity.

Then suddenly  there is a mark on the paper, a word on the screen, a line on the canvas… and that is all it takes.

I remember when I was very small and my grandfather, a talented artist, showing me how to draw a squiggle in one fluid movement and make it into a picture. I even remember what he drew… a teapot and a dog. It was early education for an imagination that was to be well fed with a diet of myth and legend, poem and music… and all the fairytales and books it could listen to or read. I was uncommonly lucky in that, with both my grandfather and my mother writing stories I suppose no other child heard… and imagination was allowed to grow in whatever way it chose, linking dance to landscape and griffins to gargoyles.

Books were never out of bounds, if I could read the words I could read the book. Not that I understood all of them. I remember moving the stuffed alligator… I was probably about eight… and pulling D.H.Lawrence from the shelf after hearing my mother and Eileen, her friend, talking about it. Couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Well… I wouldn’t, not then. I could read the words but brought no experience to knowledge, so understanding was beyond me.

There were other books…odd books… ones my teachers raised eyebrows at. Looking back they were truly an odd collection ranging from Rampa to Blavatsky, Crowley to Fortune via Graves, Regardie, Budge and Khayyam. Without even mentioning the Frazer or Lytton or the various mythologies. I devoured them, mostly without any depth of understanding… but the seeds were sown. The love affair with the written word was born very early.

A quick mental calculation… there must be around 50 million words on my bookshelves. That’s a lot of blank pages that have been filled. A lot of poised quills, pens and fingers. A lot of staring into space seeking the inspiration of where to begin.

And all of them share something in common. They begin with a word.

Obvious really.

That’s where inspiration begins… by making a start. A squiggle on a page. Until you make that first mark, take that first step into action, nothing is real. As soon as you do, you have begun. You’ve made it real. Happening. No longer a nebulous dream… a living thing that embraces life and blossoms.

Does it matter whether it is sensible or foolish in the eyes of others?  Does it matter if what you create is profound or absurd? Beautifully crafted or a first wobbling foray into creativity? I don’t think so. It is, I think, the act of self-expression, the affirmation of uniqueness, the sharing of a personal vision of life that counts the most.

Nor is it confined to the creativity of the arts. We are our own creations and can take up the pen to write in the book of our own lives with equal inspiration. All we need to begin is that squiggle.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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72 Responses to Inspiration

  1. Loved it! You are so lucky ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. S Francis says:

    Squiggle it just a little bit! Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. barbtaub says:

    One of my favorite stories about conquering the blank canvas is that of Winston Churchill, who took up painting in his 40s, while his career was at an all-time low. He later said that, “Without painting I could not live”. But what I really love is the story of his first painting (as recounted in The Weekly Standard:

    “Having acquired easel and colors, he describes his first timid steps in front of the canvas: “The palette gleamed with beads of color. Fair and white rose the canvas, the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto.” But noting that the sky was pale blue, he proceeded gingerly to load a “very small brush” with blue paint and, then, “with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean on the affronted snow-white shield. It was a challenge, a deliberate challenge; but so subdued, so halting, indeed so cataleptic, that it deserved no response.”

    At this point, the wife of his neighbor, the painter Sir John Lavery, arrives in his driveway in her car. She sees his hesitation, resolutely grabs a large brush and inflicts “several large fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvass.” And lo,

    No evil fate avenged the jaunty violence. The canvass grinned in helplessness before me. The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvass since. ” —

    Liked by 5 people

  4. jenanita01 says:

    I am pretty sure that the only thing we have to fear, is hesitation…

    Liked by 4 people

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  6. A blank sheet of paper… a blank screen… a blank canvas… your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fill it.
    Sounds like my software-writing methodology, back when I worked for a living.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I still do…But I’m still faced with filling in the blanks 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • You have my sympathy.
        I recall writing a system that (among many other jobs) had to take projected demand for a wide range of food products from more than fifty countries, and translate it into a purchasing schedule for individual ingredients, many with different harvest periods and lead times. Writing the analytic narrative and designing the data structures were probably the hardest part.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Erik says:

          Yes, though a writer of prose, poetry and music, I’m also a graphic and web designer. And there’s always that first line of code to write when you know you have a 25-page site to create from scratch!

          Liked by 3 people

  7. Bernadette says:

    Sue, a marvelous essay on creativity. I so like the reminder that we are our own creations. Something to meditate upon today. Whey don’t you post this at the Senior Salon today?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ah…starting off with a squiggle…you were indeed lucky to have your grandfather’s direction !!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Erik says:

    I love this, Sue, and read it twice (though that may not be the last of it).

    You know this line is a keeper for me: “We are our own creations and can take up the pen to write in the book of our own lives with equal inspiration.”

    I’m really enjoying getting the glimpse into the “making of Sue” in flashback lately. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Widdershins says:

    That painting … 😀 … fire and calm at the same time. Genius! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Rae Longest says:

    well written…well done!


  12. Nice post! Speaks to a lot of levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the fact that your imagination was encouraged as a child as there are no limits to where it will take you! 🙂


  14. Bernadette says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this at the Salon Sue.


  15. smallandsavvy says:

    What a wonderful post. Thank you for putting the struggles with inspiration into perspective. I, for one, struggle with this kind of thing almost daily but now, I think I’m feeling liking going and putting pen to paper. 😀


  16. Jay Starks says:

    Very Inspirational. ☺️☺️🌎


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  18. I am Aranab says:

    Well said. Inspiration comes when you take that first step.


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