Inspiration is Perishable — Don’t Let it Escape!

When That Moment Of Inspiration Arrives, Run With It – Now!

When I presented Rework for the May First Friday Book Synopsis, I described the book as a “daily devotional for business readers.”  If you are not aware, there are many magazines, and books, written with daily “devotional thoughts” for believers in all faiths.  They are usually written to be read one page a day, and each thought “stands alone.”  This genre best describes the style of Rework – not for the content, but for the format.  Each chapter is short (never over a couple of pages; many, only one page).  And though there are some over-arching themes, many of the chapters are true stand-alone chapters.  And each one gets you thinking…

Here’s one theme:  The authors argue that work should not consume your life.  Quit work at 5:00; don’t work weekends; “Forgoing sleep is a bad idea.”

But there is an exception to this “rule.”  And that is when you are overtaken by some great burst of inspiration.  Here’s their quote:

Ideas are immortal.  Inspiration is perishable.  If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now.  Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator…  If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

In this short chapter, they argue that when you fall under the spell of a moment of inspiration, do whatever it takes to turn that into action before it “perishes.”  Pull an all-nighter; work through the weekend, grab it before it leaves you.

Here’s a well known historical example.  Arguably the greatest piece of music ever written is Handel’s Messiah. (with apologies to the Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”).  Do you know how he wrote it?  In one burst of inspiration.  And, in this case, it may have been truly the epitome of “inspiration.”  Though accounts vary (he locked himself in his room; he wrote it in a garden), it is commonly believed that he did not deviate from his task until it was finished.  He spent 24 days straight on the piece, and did not leave his work area even to eat (food was delivered to him).  Legend has it that he wrote the Hallelujah Chorus, the climax of the work, on his knees, and as he finished it, he handed the music pages to his assistant and said, with tears running down his face, “I thought I saw the face of God.”

Here’s what the Rework guys say.  If you have a burst of inspiration, recognize that it is “perishable.”  (great word!)  So, in such a moment, drop everything else, and do-it-now!


REWORK by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals

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