Looking for the Light

Posted by Colleen Newquist on 30th Jan 2024

Looking for the Light

Waiting for inspiration is like waiting for a Midwest winter to end.

But while we must wait out the weather, we can always kindle the creative flame. If you’re seeking inspiration, read, observe, learn, explore, and most importantly, just do it, whatever “it” is. Want to be a writer? Write. Want to be an artist? Draw. Paint. Dance. Want a more exciting home? Buy a gallon of paint and go for it. So what if you end up hating the color? You can always paint over it.

Action makes things happen.

Putting pen to paper, no matter how awful the prose that comes out, stirs the pot—it gets the gears going, fosters the creative habit, and puts you in the position of being primed when genius thoughts burst through. If you wait for a spark of inspiration, the right moment, the perfect conditions, you’ll be squandering your precious time. The light is always there if you look for it.

I remember slogging through a particularly tough winter some years ago when, after a string of dreary gray days, the sun came out. A thick layer of snow blanketed the ground and the thermometer was stuck at 28 degrees, but when I ventured outdoors, I discovered that at the southeast corner of our house, where the back entryway and wall met to form a sheltering triangle, the sun dazzled, creating a microclimate of comparative warmth. I bundled up in my down coat and hat, pulled out a lawn chair, poured a cup of coffee, and sat in the sunshine, feeling the warmth of its rays on my face. I was ecstatic.

It's not always easy to practice what I preach. But that winter morning, in my balmy corner of the world, I was reminded of the best way to live: In the moment, with my  face turned toward the sun.

Colleen Newquist writes, doodles, plays outside, and cooks in Three Oaks, Michigan. To read more of her musings in Stop and Smell the Butter, visit colleennewquist.com