Inspiration, Where the Hell is it?

One of the main ways I began to see myself as not only an artist but also a creative person was finding other creative types. I found many of these people by joining HitRecord, an online collaborative art community. If you enjoy art, I highly suggest joining: it’s an amazing community and full of so much stuff to play or work on.

It was there that I began to write more, explore photography, and dabble in video editing. Hanging out with artists meant we talked a lot about making art, and inevitably our own processes for creating pieces.

Some people really struggle to create. For one writer, there’s nothing more agonizing as our poem a day challenge for the month of April. While for me? That’s one of my favorite months. I could write 2-3 poems a day and work a full day at my job. Naturally the same question kept coming up:

“How do you produce so much?”

I hated when this question came up. Instead of feeling proud, I felt uncomfortable. Should writing be harder? If it was so easy, was I not really being creative? Maybe my work wasn’t that good?

hiding

The answer of course is both yes…and no.

Inspiration is NOT the final product

You can be inspired by a million things, and still create something terrible. Or, you can struggle to put anything on the page, but come out with a wonderful piece of prose. Inspiration is only the beginning of creativity. It’s the snippet of conversation you overhear that inspires a short story. Perhaps it’s the old chair at a garage sale that you can refurbish. Inspiration, is seeing the potential for something more.

Inspiration doesn’t promise an end product. When I first started to write, I had inspiration, but not experience. I won’t lie to you: I wrote some awful stuff. Some of it I still love.

Inspiration offers opportunity, not quality.

But, inspiration is critical to developing quality. Why? It ensures you show up and practice your craft. Inspiration led me to take more photographs, and write more poetry. By showing up, I gave myself room for trial and error, opportunities to try new techniques. Each piece made me better, bit by bit. Without inspiration, I wouldn’t have shown up.

Inspiration is a mindset

It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing: there are a few times I’ll never write well or feel creative:

  • When I am hungry (screw dialogue, I want french fries!)
  • After 11 pm
  • Anytime I have incredibly bad cramps or a headache

delicious

These moments share one thing: I’m not in the right head space. Hunger, fatigue, and pain mean I’m more focused on myself than being open. I’m blocked from engaging with the world. That’s a good thing: Without sleep I’d become a whiny brat.

The trick is learning how to get yourself in the head space for inspiration to find you. That’s right: find you. It means getting into the space to allow, to receive, not push. In the crazy world we live in, getting to a place to let go and let things happen can be hard. But I have a few tricks to help you get there:

7  Jedi mind tricks to find inspiration

Everyone needs something a bit different to get into the right head space. I can’t say if any of these will work for you, but here’s what I and some of my fellow artists have found:

  1. Go for a walk

Put on a pair of comfy shoes. Rock some awesome sunglasses and get out of your house. Sometimes you just need to disconnect from technology and your normal routine. Enjoy the natural world, let yourself wander. You never know what you’ll find.

  1. Laughing meditation

It sounds crazy, but laughing is a great way of clearing out stress and letting yourself relax (crucial for your creative brain).

Trying out this meditation for just a few minutes can lighten the mood and help you get inspired.

  1. Listen to music you love

Graphic designer, Seabear, likes to drive around listening to Bon Iver and Sigur Ros. Sure, driving in traffic can be stressful, but open road and great tunes can give you space to relax and unwind.

Right now I’m obsessed with Anais Mitchell. Sometimes just listening to her music with my eyes closed can lead me to create some awesome stuff (at least when I’m not driving!)

Is there any artists you love? Give yourself 30 minutes to close your eyes and enjoy the music.

  1. Get comfy

My friend, Crochet Master Kate (as I like to call her), is all about the setup of her space. Or as she puts it, “I need the physical space around me to be “right”…usually have to clean the room I’m going to be in, get just the right delicious beverage, and set up all my tools/materials in just the right way. I need to be in the right clothing as well.”

For me: comfy sweatshirt, warm cup of tea, and enough space to pace in my room.

  1. Turn off the lights

A few people mentioned to me that they like the dark, especially when creating music. “It grounds me” Threeo said, “helps me be more in the moment.”

My guess on how it works? The dark cuts out visual distraction and allows these talented musicians to focus on making awesome music.

  1. Align with the mood you want to create

Tamika, another writer, is all about getting into the mood she wants to create. She explains, “If I’m writing something of a darker bent, anything I read/watch for pleasure will match.”

I’ve definitely seen this happen to me: Authors I read or movies I watch will start to show up in how I write or the stories I try to tell.

One way to harness this for your own work: try to surround yourself consciously. Want to make a gothic costume? Start watching some of the old classic horror films like Dracula or Frankenstein.

Another way to go about this is surrounding yourself with the work of people you look up to. Whether it’s quotes from heroes in your field or analyzing their work, you may not be the next Einstein, but you can learn a lot by immersing yourself in his work.

  1. Spend some time alone

Boy at the window

 Johnny, a talented animator and musician (as well as awesome host), will spend time alone. “If I feel a spark of inspiration, I have to immediately shut off otherwise it’ll just evaporate. I usually just stare out the window, for a good 10 minutes or so, shaping the idea,” Johnny says. “Just totally shut off and leave yourself alone with your ideas on a roof during a storm, it’s wonderful.”

These are just some of the ways to find inspiration and chase after it. If there’s anything these tricks have in common, it is permission. Permission to see what piques your interest. Permission to chase an idea, without being certain of its value. Permission to disconnect from expectations and do something completely and utterly for yourself.

Today, I hope you give yourself permission to create and see where inspiration takes you.

How do you find inspiration? Share your tricks in the comments below!

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