Every single person who writes, dances, sings, or sculpts or draws or creates in some fashion has a word or 50 to say about inspiration as it relates to their work, their personal process and rituals to create what it is that they create.
There’s a lot of curiosity about what it is that makes people want to create and where they get their inspiration for what they create. And people who create often have much to say about this notion of inspiration — the experience of it, where it’s found or taken from, and how inspiration and being inspired matters in the grand scheme of creating.
Some of people say, “everything inspires me.” Others say, “I am inspired on a long walk with the dog or sitting at the cafe.”
Some people point to inspiration through looking at art, listening to music, meditation, sitting in a crowd or watching kids, birds, beasts; looking out at the ocean, lake, river, pond, puddle, rain, sunsets, sunrises, watching clouds and listening to and feeling thunder and lightning. And some say, the feel of a fabric or the quality of light, or history. Others say, “I just go out in the world and when I come back, I start to work it and discover what inspired me.”
As helpful as it might be to find out what inspires, it is also perhaps just as instructive to hear about managing and navigating the flip side, when inspiration is hard to conjure.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the words around inspiration are words we associate with discovery, journey, magic, finding, opening and faith. Inspiration is, if nothing else, a mysterious feeling leading to an action which often leads to a creation of something. It’s also not exactly universal and it is not exactly always used for good.
People ask me how I come up with things I write about, what inspires me. That an easy complicated answer.
First, I’m of the writering tribe that finds inspiration anywhere and everywhere.
Second, I am also of the writering tribe that researches. I am interested in things, things like what make us tick, things like creativity, and human behaviour and expression. I dig deep into brain and mind science and ponder what that research is saying about creativity and mental states and mental models (read: beliefs, because for most humans, believing is seeing and not the other way ’round). Everyone can have creative, inspired moments. Not everyone is creative all the time. So learning inspires me. ALL of my friends run for cover when I start a sentence with, “Did you know???
Third, I’m of the non-fiction writering tribe. While ALL of the rules of good writing still apply, it takes work to be inspired enough by the facts to turn out a piece interesting enough for people to read it and get it. And sometimes, the most interesting facts I find have nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m writing about. And that means hard work ahead. That is less inspiring, actually.
If you watch and see and if you listen and learn and do not judge, you know that truth is stranger than any fiction on any planet 121 per cent of the time. And as I think about it, for me at least, it isn’t about finding or discovering inspiration, it’s what to do with all of this rich, wonderful stuff in the world that’s out there to write about. Becasue truly, just about everything can be inspiring.
So what do I do with all that inspiration? There’s one and only one thing that works: Go. Write. Now.