Inspiration isn’t What I Thought It Was

What inspiration means to meThe inspired writer, the inspired dancer, the inspired artist. The only time I’ve witnessed any kind of artist being inspired is in Hollywood scenes. You know what I’m talking about, so I don’t need to describe them. But, as I’ve mentioned before, inspiration has led me astray. I actually thought I needed to be inspired in order to write.

But now I understand what inspiration is. To me, at least. It is a high. It is an “Oh! Wow! That’s an awesome idea!” It is a rush of energy that makes cars on German autobahns seem like turtles. It gives me the energy to dance my ass off to great 80s music (albeit, I’m cleaning the house at that time, but it’s still inspiration). When I used to teach, it gave me loads of ideas for exercises so I could break away from the text. And when I’d write, it gave me entire short stories (they were simplistic, but I could write 5,000 words in one or two sittings).

What I didn’t understand was that it was actually a way for my brain to turn off the internal editor, commune with this high energy (you can decide where it comes from), and get a ton of ideas out so you can sift through them for the right idea to work with.

Kind of like getting a ton of job applications and having to choose the top three to five applicants for more serious consideration. Maybe ask your ideas questions.

“Tell me about the time when you solved a problem no one else could fix,” you could ask.

“Well, I was created as a traveling step so dancers could traverse the stage in a more creative way than plain running.”

“I see. And by what means did you measure your success?”

“Lots of dancers used me, and I eventually got a name. I’m a jazz run.”

You could put your top three to five ideas to a test.

“So, confused and guilt-ridden Mom, please complete this craft with your child.”

“Um, okay, but I’m not really sure what you want me to do. This child is three, so she’s much too young for Elmer’s glue, but she may have inherent abilities that I don’t know about yet. Has she been tested for anything that might affect her ability to hold the glue bottle? I wouldn’t want to ask her to do more than she’s capable of, but then, I suppose raising the bar a bit would help her develop her fine motor skills more quickly. I was wonder-”

“That’s okay, thank you.”

Moments of inspiration push past our own inhibitions to get those ideas out. When you find yourself in an inspirational high, and your kids aren’t complaining that supper still isn’t on the table, maybe let it take hold of you for a few moments. Write/record/draw/dance everything that’s coming through. Let yourself get excited. Once the moment passes, sift through your ideas. You may find something useful. If you don’t, then dig a little: your moment of inspiration was probably meant to put you on a path to deeper truths about your art.

5 thoughts on “Inspiration isn’t What I Thought It Was

  1. Interesting, I sometimes have moments when I’m lacking inspiration, staring at a blank sheet of paper, or word document: ‘thinking what am I going to write about?’. Perhaps taking the time to just let my imagination do it’s own thing without being too critical of myself might help with that.

    • Totally. You might want to check out Daphne Gray-Grant. She’s an editor-turned-writer-but-still-an-editor and has some great advice along those lines. Mind mapping is her thing, and when I do discipline myself to do it, it does work. Good luck with letting your imagination come through!

  2. Pingback: Squeezing Creativity Into Your Life: A Few Tips | You are Creative

  3. Pingback: Writing From Your Past | You are Creative

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