Desperation Fuel

I believe that desperation can be exactly the fuel our creativity is hungry for.

That seems like a crazy statement, but don’t worry – I’m about to explain 😉

As some of you know, since I just finished grad school three weeks ago I’m currently not working. Now, I haven’t been unemployed since age sixteen, and I’ve never left a job without my name on the line somewhere else, so let’s just say these last few weeks have been a whole lot of applications and eating my feelings. However, I’m discovering the impact this state has on my writing is surprisingly positive.

At least sometimes, need fuels results. The muse, inspiration, whatever you like to call it that is so hard to come by and so wonderful when it’s present, that inspiration thrives on high stakes. When things look the messiest, when you’re the least certain of where you’re going and what’s happening, sometimes that’s when the answers become the clearest and the words flow most smoothly.

If you’re currently floundering a little bit in other parts of your life, or even in your writing, you can use that to inspire yourself. Find some places to submit your stories and use those deadlines to build a sense of immediate need. Create your own deadlines and tell someone you would hate to fail in front of, and use that to drive your output. Urgency and desperation, a sense that your writing is all you have right now or that it is needed immediately, can sometimes make you shut down, but it can also force you to put hands on keyboard and bring worlds to life in a way nothing else can.

The beautiful thing about writing is that it’s a constant. No matter how high your self doubt and the number of times you face rejection, the only one who can remove the permission to write from you is yourself. It’s one of the only professions in the world where you and you are alone are the sole dictator of opportunity, your own ultimate boss. Your success or failure really does rest on you, because everyone else, while incredibly valuable and important, are just teammates with you and partners in trying to reach the goal of published work. But you are the one who can breathe life into that work and bring it into being.

You might be feeling a different kind of desperation right now, the kind that makes everything I’m saying seem silly. Maybe you’re desperate over your 200th rejection, or a chapter that just won’t come out right no matter how many times you rewrite it, or the fact that you simply have no words and you can’t imagine ever feeling like you have something to say again. But friends, even that can be the desperation you need. At the end of everything, if you only had a few more words, what would you most want to say? How do you describe the feelings weighing you down? Who is the one character that won’t leave you alone?

Desperation gets a bad rap, and true, it can make people do some really stupid things. But it also is a sort of fire, and as we know, fire refines things. How has desperation fueled your creativity and brought about something good in your writing?


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