“Inspiration is for Amateurs..”  Why Action is the Key to Inspiration and Productivity

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

-Chuck Close

I’ve loved this quote since the day I originally heard it, but I never knew there was more context to the quote until recently!

In the full text, Chuck Close brilliantly elucidates why action is the most fundamental piece in the act of creating and why inspiration can take the back seat initially.

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”

-Chuck Close

The idea Chuck has put forth here is that inspiration is a natural by-product of action, not a prerequisite.

It’s an idea that continues to glare at me in the face these days.


To continue supporting Chuck’s theory, I have to make an embarrassing admission. There are a lot of great books in the personal development genre, but there’s about 10 times as many that are horrible. When the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” came out and was received with raving reviews, I had immense hesitation. The title seemed so ‘click-baity’ and I arrogantly thought that anyone who had to imply the use of the F word in their title couldn’t possibly have anything to teach me.

After a handful of people, friends and clients alike, recommended it to me, I finally decided to dive in. I have an Audible membership and if you’re unsatisfied with a listen, their return policy is pretty amazing and they’ll let you return it without question, so I figured I didn’t have much to lose.

Long story short, I was wrong.

There were probably 5-10 really big ideas in this book that were all woven together quite nicely. Anyways, the reason I bring it up is because Mark Manson, the author, peels apart the complexity of taking action as it pertains to inspiration beautifully.

He states that the process of inspiration can in fact breed action, but that it’s not the most effective or efficient way to let the process unravel. The inspiration and action system can be hi-jacked.

The mainstream perception of the process is as follows:

Inspiration --> Motivation --> Action --> Inspiration --> Motivation --> Action …ad infinitum

What we fail to see though is that if we start the process in a different stage, we can be much more effective.

Action --> Inspiration --> Motivation --> Action --> Inspiration --> Motivation --> Action

Same process, different starting block.

You see, by taking action, we actually create the inspiration needed to continue taking action and propel ourselves towards a better outcome.

Mark Manson and Chuck Close both clearly articulate the same idea here. Namely, that by disciplining ourselves to get up and take action, we’ll find the inspiration we need to take more fruitful action in a shorter time frame.


When I was a kid, I’m sure my parents thought I had a bright future ahead of me with a flourishing career in procrastination. They've told me it seemed that I could almost invent tasks out of thin air to get out of doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing.

Flash forward to my college years and I was good at getting things done, but it was always at the last minute and barely by the hair of my chin.

Finally, after years of procrastination later, I implemented ONE REALLY BIG IDEA that totally transformed my life.

I made the first thing I do every single day (after my morning routine) something productive.

Before I check news, Instagram, emails, texts, etc., I make sure I take care of my own business.

It looks like this:

  • Wake up

  • Shower

  • Breakfast

  • Meditate


  • Option to check on the world now.

Only after I do something meaningful for my own business do I allow myself the potential to become sidetracked by the million things the world deems necessary for my eyes.

Because we live in such a hyper connected world, we assume that our eyes must react to something the minute someone sends it to us.

That’s not true though.

If you start your day with Facebook or News, you’re already activating your brain in ways that are polarized to productivity.

It can be hard to regain the attention of the brain once the amygdala has been fired off by the horrendous headlines and gruesome photos that perpetuate fear and cause a mental absorption.

By all means, stay in touch with the world and your networks, but please take care of what you say matters to you first.

Wake up and take action. You’ll be amazed at what follows.


I’ve created two super helpful resources that are 100% FREE if you find that you want some assistance in this area. Both can be found by clicking the link below for the website.

1. The first will pop up after a few seconds on the site (I know, sorry about that, but it’s a really awesome resource and it’s 100% FREE so I feel like it’s a fair deal). It’s called the Habit Builder, and I designed it to help create momentum in the tasks that are important to you by visually tracking your progress over a few weeks.

2. The second is a worksheet called “Gaining Clarity” and is a series of open ended questions that encourage you to think deeply about what the most appealing version of your life looks like and helps you create a ROADMAP for thinking through the steps to achieve that end.


  • There’s no time like the present (or the morning) to TAKE ACTION.

  • Inspiration is waiting on the other side of Action.

  • Resources to help you are available for free

  • Habit Builder (wait for the pop up)

  • Gaining Clarity (Scroll down on the home page)

With gratitude,

Dennis McGinley

STRIVENT - Founder, Performance & Adventure Coach

#inspiration #work #takingaction #getshitdone #productivity #worksheets