According to the Cambridge English dictionary, inspiration is a sudden good idea. Of course that doesn’t mean that inspiration springs from nowhere. One of the greatest inspiration facts is that while it is indeed a sudden good idea, generally it comes as part of a process. Now I’m talking as an artist, however I believe that it works pretty much the same way no matter what.
Have you ever been working on something and had the thought, “I wonder what would happen if I…”. That, my friends is inspiration. Nothing more, nothing less. The secret is to recognize it when it occurs.
But the larger question is, how does one inspire it? What is the criteria that brings that new idea, that brilliant, fully developed idea to mind in the first place?
Is there a secret to the process?
As a working artist, I believe there is. And I am here to share it with you. But you don’t have to believe me. There are hundreds of books out there about inspiration. Have a read.
Don’t wait for inspiration – Go after it.
Inspiration is often the solution to a problem that you have been working to solve. Many times that inspiration comes, not as you are working on the problem itself, but as you are doing something totally unrelated.
Somehow, releasing your mind from actively thinking about a solution and changing gears is often how the brain makes an unusual connection to help you take that road less traveled.
Our brains are marvelous tools that work in sometimes mysterious ways, and many times releasing it from directly dealing with coming up with an active solution, frees it to make connections that are creative and better than forcing a plan of action.
I think it is part inspiration and part intuition. You just need to figure out what works for you, pay attention to the things that come to mind and if you are lucky you can come up with a formula with which you can start the inspirational process.
Again and again.
Sometimes you love what your brain comes up with, and sometimes not so much.
For instance, I was working on a series that was rather flat, uninspiring and I thought, really boring. Generally when that happens, Instead of forcing it, I will put it down on my work table and walk away to do something else for a while.
Which is what I did in this instance. As I was washing dishes (the chores still must get done at some point) I looked at the sink strainer and realized that it was the right size, had the right configuration and could very well be used to bust through the boring series and make it a WOW.
Long story short, it turned out to be one of my more successful series. Sometimes a trip to the kitchen to rifle through the drawers can be a boon to my creativity.
Work every day – You will thank yourself.
The biggest of the inspiration facts for me is that, for the most part, inspiration doesn’t hit me if I’m not involved in a project. I have learned over the years that I don’t always have to be doing inspiring work, I just have to work. I try to either write or be actively involved with whatever art process I’m currently interested in everyday.
Good ideas come to me far more easily the more I work. My brain becomes more nimble and processes left field ideas more quickly when it is engaged.
That doesn’t mean that I am always inspired. There are many series that I do that are put aside after they are finished because there is something missing that I haven’t figured out yet.
It’s amazing how differently I will see my work after not looking at it for a while. Many times the missing piece comes to me after having taken a break from the project. Inspiration? Or simply solving a problem. To me they are much the same.
Have a dedicated area to work in – No matter how small.
Whether it is the kitchen table or a bench in the garage, having a place that you can work, and leave a piece that is in progress, is priceless. It gives you the opportunity to walk past, look at the work, and make decisions about it.
Not having to dig out the materials needed from a bin or box in order to work is such a gift. I think that is allows the creative flow that many times leads to inspiration.
Studies’ suggest that messy people are the most creative, however I’m not sure that is always true. I know that as I am working out an issue I am having, many times my hands seem to work independently, organizing and arranging things on my work table, by their own volition. Sometimes when I come back to the here and now, I am surprised by how neat my work surface until I realize that my hands have been busy without my permission.
If at first you don’t succeed, start over, and over, and over.
Back to the studies’ thing, it is said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. To do it really well. To know enough about it to begin to break the rules. And that, my friends is when the magic starts to happen.
It is difficult to be creative and allow inspiration to hit when you are busy following the rules. Of course that is my opinion, however I will fight to the death to defend that opinion. But then I am not a rule follower and never have been.
I learn them of course. I learn them so that I can break them, because every time someone says, “Oh, you can’t do it that way”, my first reaction is, “why not?”. And I do it that way just to find out why it isn’t supposed to be done like that. Of course, I have landed myself in some sticky situations, but I will never change, nor would I want to.
I kind of like the messes I get into, and some of them lead me to my next inspiration.
I am aware of the fact that not everyone veers from the rules as easily as I do. But part of the fun of creating is figuring out a new or different way to do the same old thing.
So the next time you think, “I wonder what would happen if I…”, run with it. Let inspiration be your guide.
Inspiration facts, or myths?
You are in charge, you make the decision. Is there such a thing is inspiration?
Is it the same thing as creativity? If not, how is it different?
Do you have a strategy for encouraging inspiration?
Do you listen once it has struck? Or does it seem to, I don’t know, to be too far-fetched, too much trouble?
Inspiration and creativity are never too much trouble. But sometimes fulfilling your vision can be challenging.
But then, everything worth doing is worth fighting for, even if you are only fighting with yourself.
Please let me know what you think.