Inspiration Only Gets You So Far

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Austin is such an amazing town for writers. Independent book stores, author events, poetry readings, book festivals, literary archives, professional organizations, classes, workshops, meet-ups, indie presses, conferences—we have it all. I gushed about some of my favorite local literary highlights in this post, and I stand by everything I said.

I have friends in other parts of the state/country/globe that don’t live on such fertile writing ground, and I feel a little sorry for them. They can’t even imagine the number of opportunities I have for networking, listening, and learning. There’s just so much inspiration here!

This summer alone, I participated in a writing conference and an online workshop, attended a panel discussion and an author interview, led a write-away day at The Writing Barn and met up with various writer friends to drink coffee, share ideas, and bond over this strange and wonderful writing life. All of it was excellent.

But… (Yeah, there’s a but.)

This may sound a bit blasphemous, but I’m actually starting to envy those writers who DON’T live in a thriving writing community because, well, I bet they get a lot of work done.

The thing is, inspiration only gets you so far. Eventually, you have to actually sit down and WRITE. Otherwise, all those techniques you learned and exercises you practiced and great advice you heard and connections you made don’t matter. You have to put the inspiration to use or it doesn’t mean anything. The writing is the key.


I recently went back to work full time-ish. (I’m a substitute teacher, so my job is pretty flexible, meaning random and confusing and literally all over the place, but I’m trying to book a job every day because I like having money to buy things.) All of a sudden, my available hours have shrunk and my available hours that I am awake and running on at least 70% brain power have shrunk even more.

This weekend, I looked at my calendar for the month and—man, oh, man—it is full of so many amazing things! Volunteering for one writing organization and monthly meetings with two more. Two book launches at my favorite local book store and one poetry reading followed by an open mic. An author interview, and a meet-up with writer friends, and a panel discussion, and a poetry festival, and one event that even has free wine. Yes! Yes! Yes! Wait… Noooooo! When am I supposed to write???

I sat down, put my head in my hands, and wished I lived out in the country or possibly in a city of illiterates. I found myself envying those friends who don’t live in thriving literary communities.

Which is silly. Utterly and completely silly. Because, obviously I don’t have to go to all these things. There is literally ONE event on my calendar that I have to go to because I’m assisting at it. The rest? I can just say no. Remember that, kids of the eighties? JUST SAY NO.

But it’s not that easy, because I WANT to go. The book launches are both for friends of mine, and of course I want to celebrate their amazing successes. The poetry festival is always so much fun and all my poet friends will be there. The author interview is with someone really interesting who I’ve been wanting to meet. And free wine? Come on!

Sadly, though, I can’t attend everything. I will have to pick and choose. I will have to say no. I will have to live vicariously through others when it comes to some of these events because I am a writer, so what I have to do is write. There’s no point bottling up all that inspiration if I don’t make time to let it out.

So here I sit, erasing some events from my calendar. I’ll miss you, friends! But if you don’t see me at a meeting or a workshop or a festival in the coming weeks, don’t fret. If I’m not there, it means I’m writing. And that’s a good thing.

Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, The Ghostly Tales of Burlington, and The Ghostly Tales of Dallas in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

7 thoughts on “Inspiration Only Gets You So Far

  1. Carrie, you poooor thing! Not a bad problem to have 😊 i don’t have access to all those events and still don’t have enough hours in the day to get around to all of my creative projects. I’ve found that I rarely get to give them all a little time each day. Instead I usually have to focus most of my energy on one that is more immediate. I have been trying to finish a blog post this weekend but I’ve been working on writing all the song notes, credits and thank yous for my cd package because I’m meeting with the graphic designer tomorrow in Chapel Hill.

    1. Good luck on your CD package! That sounds like fun work. 🙂 I’ve started devoting 10 minutes a day to writing NO MATTER WHAT and it’s working well, as that 10 minutes usually turns into much longer.

  2. I like your 10 minutes a day writing plan! It’s a doable baby step, which, as you point out, will likely lead to more. I need to do something – – anything! – – to get myself back in gear. Glen’s been out of town for 5 days, and I have accomplished… nothing.

  3. I’ve actually wondered this before, when you talk about all the stuff you go to. Like, “When does she find time to write?” I love that you’re so active and inspired, though. I guess a little balance is in order for all of us.

    Bonus points for the best use of “literally” I’ve heard in a long time. And you said, “I’m trying to book a job every day because I like having money to buy things,” but I’m pretty sure you meant to buy BOOKS, right? Must’ve been a typo.. 😉

  4. I can attest to the fact that though I don’t live in a thriving writing community….I still don’t get a lot of work done. Heh. 🙂 We must carve the time for this elusive visitor, the Muse. Right now, I’m struggling to choose between blogging or working on my novel. Or organizing all my old writing. Or watching Stranger Things…Anyway, I’m proud of you for taking a step back and seeing how thin you were stretching yourself. Don’t deprive the world of more stories like “The Other House” and “Tear Drops and Watermelon Seeds”. ❤

    1. Based on the email I just got, it looks like you chose to blog ABOUT Stranger Things! Excellent use of multi-tasking. 🙂 I can’t wait to read it. And yes, we must carve time. Also, “carve” time made me think of carving pumpkins, so now I’m picturing my writing time as the eyes and nose and toothy smile of a jack-o-lantern. =)

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