Following on from this post of a while ago, here's Philip Pullman on the subject of inspiration:
" 'Where do you get your ideas from?' [people] ask, and I say, 'I don't know where they come from, but I know where they come to: they come to my desk and if I'm not there, they go away again.' [...] The capacity to sit and be bored and frustrated for very long stretches of time is essential, but nowhere near as glamorous as the inspiration idea, and people don't like to hear about that so much.
Let me try and describe briefly what it's like to feel inspired in the way that I think people mean when they talk about inspiration. [...] It feels like discovery, not invention. It feels as if the story I'm writing already exists, in some Platonic way, and that I'm privileged from time to time to gain access to it. The curtain twitches aside for a while; the moon comes out from behind a cloud, and illuminates a landscape that was previously invisible; something like that.
Something happens, and there's a moment or so of clarity in which I see all kinds of possibilities and connections and patterns and correspondences that I never suspected were there in the great clumsy bundle of darkness and confusion that is the story I'm trying to write. [...] I see a perfection of form that makes it worth continuing to struggle with the intractable material I have to shape it out of.
It doesn't last very long, this feeling of inspiration, or whatever we want to call it, but it doesn't really have to; all you need to do is see the possibilities, and that cheers you up, and you go back to work with a will.
[...] And it's always accompanied by a sense that there's more where that came from - that somewhere there's an inexhaustible source of strength, truth, meaning, encouragement, blessedness. It feels like being blessed. Something has come from somewhere else to refresh and strengthen me. And it's not given parsimoniously; I'm not offered just a drop or two, and told that that's all I can have because they're running short, and other people need it too, and I have to make it last, and I can't expect any more in this financial year. There's never that implication; there's always enough. And that feeling is a great source of hope and strength. [...]"
From the essay 'Poco a Poco', Daemon Voices