How can I find ideas when I have no inspiration to write a paper?
For some students, writing comes easily; for others, it is just the opposite. I have found myself in both categories. When the ideas flow, papers and essays get done quickly. The problem starts when the ideas do not flow, and you begin staring at the blank paper or at the computer screen in front of you for a long time. Then, you get up and get yourself something to eat. Then, you come back to the paper or computer, and still no ideas. This can go on and on for hours until you are tempted to give up. The pressure is there, and panic settles in: Where did all the ideas go? What am I going to do?
I have found that whenever this happens, I have a feeling of "lack." I have noticed that everyone feels this way at some point in life, although in different ways. Some feel that they "lack" being loved, some "lack" money, and many people all over the world lack food and/or justice. When I am stuck on a paper, I feel I "lack" inspiration.
However, the Bible shows many examples where God proves that He always takes care of His creation, and never leaves His children (you and me) in difficult situations. There is a story that has helped me understand that even if we feel we are in great need, we already have an answer to our need -- right where we are. The story is about a poor and desperate widow who was feeling "lack." She told the prophet Elisha that her husband had died and she had so many debts that the creditors were going to take her two sons into slavery, which was the custom at the time. Elisha answered her cry for help by asking: "What hast thou in the house?" (II Kings 4:2). He was not looking at what she was missing, but at what she already had. The widow said that all she had was a pot of oil. Not much, really. That's when the prophet told her to go home, borrow as many pots as she could from neighbors, and fill them all with the oil from her own pot. When the widow obeyed, she found that the oil kept coming out from her own pot. She had enough oil to sell in order to pay all her debts and keep her sons.
We can apply this story to our personal situations. When we have no ideas for our essays and fear getting a zero, we can think about the way the prophet Elisha approached the situation of "lack." He points to the fact that solutions come from the inside, from "in the house" (II Kings 4:2). Creativity is inside all of us! A tiny, little idea appears. It's a start, and then little by little the inspiration keeps flowing. When we understand that God is the source for creativity, we find that we already have everything we need. As we read in Ecclesiastes: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it" (3:14).