“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” – Saul Bellow on Inspiration
Inspiration, in my experience, seems to strike when you are not expecting it. That’s all very nice, and well, and good. But do you ever find that those moments when you need inspiration when you are staring at a blank screen and a deadline, are often absent of that lightning bolt of imagination? I do.
A teacher once told me that inspiration, unfortunately, does not generally come floating in through the window. One has to learn how to cultivate it. Here are some thoughts on how…
1. Broadly, What Are You Inspired By?
Some find inspiration in films, whereas for somebody else watching films might be a total waste of their time. What, in particular, gives you that feeling in your chest? To find inspiration when you really need it, you must first work out where it is that you, personally, need to look. Perhaps you find inspiration when…
…Reading a great book
…Listening to your favourite album
…Staring at the sky or taking in a view
…Doodling on in notepad
For me, this is the most important step. The beginning is hard. The hardest. When all you have is nothing but a blank page in front of you and a blank space in your head, inspiration can seem very far off. However, if you just trust yourself and remove the fear of ‘not getting it right the first time’ you will find that whatever do, say, write or design, to begin with will, at the very least, be part of the inspiration for your big idea. When your work is finished, that first idea may not be part of it… but it will have been the first step in the journey. If you don’t begin, you can’t finish. So begin!
3. The Pressure of Originality
Sometimes we feel pressure to come up with a wholly original idea. This is really hard because there is pretty much no such thing as an original idea. I have certainly been put off trying simply because I can’t think of something new. However, everything we create is a result of things we have seen and experienced. There is no shame in at least starting from a place of familiarity.
Many successful creatives steal; they use an old idea as a foundation on which to build something new. Once you remove the originality barrier from your process, inspiration becomes much easier to find.
4. Don’t Let It Get Away!
Don’t let moments of clarity, momentum or spontaneity pass you by. If a bright idea strikes you in the middle of the night or whilst out on a run, make sure to get it on paper as soon as you can, before the clarity of it and your enthusiasm for it leaves you. I have lost the enthusiasm for many excellent ideas, just because I haven’t made a note of them in good enough time.
5. Use Other People
I am often in a room where many people are writing at once. This is great for sparking inspiration for a few reasons. First of all, saying your ideas out loud is a great way to gauge reaction; is that idea as funny, clever, brilliant, useful or helpful as you thought? It is also useful because somebody might have thought in reaction to one of your offers that serves as the next piece in the puzzle… a piece you would not have thought of on your own. So, I recommend that you bounce off other people when at all possible.
By Chris Thomson
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