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How to Tell Good Inspiration from Bad

Yes. You.
Yes. You.

The other day, I was fielding questions about my upcoming novel when the topic of inspiration came up.

How do you know when you’re inspired by a really good idea?

And more important, how do you tell a good inspiration from a bad one?

I had to think long and hard about the answer to that. Because it’s not what you think.

It’s not an intellectual answer. You can’t tell these things with your brain.

It’s in your gut. Your heart. It’s that little voice in the back of your mind that’s telling you what you’re too obstinate or too afraid to admit.

Here’s the best metaphor I can think of.

You know that feeling you get when you hear just the right song on the radio, and you crank up the volume, and suddenly the world gets brighter?

Maybe it’s a song from high school. Maybe it’s a song connected to a certain person, or a pivotal time in your life.

It hits you straight in the gut. It grabs you on an emotional level, and it won’t let go.

It just feels so right.

That’s how you know.

Because feelings like that don’t come around often. And when they do, you need to trust them.

But you do have to be careful. Sometimes, you can actually get hooked on a bad idea, it’s true.

But on some level, you know when that’s happening. You know it’s a bad idea, you know it’s not quite right, and you silence that part in order to keep going.

That’s what you have to watch out for.

But when you get an idea that resonates with you, that comes from a positive place, an idea that you love so hard that it chokes you up – those are the ideas worth pursuing to the end.

Whether it’s a new career choice, a new romance, or (like in my case) a new book.

Is it a good idea? You already know the answer.

The truth is inside you. You just have to learn to trust it.

And then you need the bravery to go after it with everything you’ve got. Because that’s what makes life worth living.

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