What is inspiration? Well, the dictionary says it’s “The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something […] creative.” It also says that creativity is “the state or quality of being creative.”
I find those definitions a bit dull, really. Inaccurate.
There are many people who have talked about creativity, as well as the ups and downs of being a creative individual. I could wax lyrical about how Walt Whitman said you should let inspiration “throb [in the] flood of the moment… without worrying,” and how The Huffington Post says inspiration will make you happier and healthier, and that walking will actually boost your positivity and brain activity.
I could. But I won’t. Because telling you about how walking can positively influence the brain will make no difference unless you actually go out, walk, and feel it for yourself.
Joe Bunting of The Write Practice says that you can combine your schedule with the spontaneity of inspiration to fuel your creativity. While I agree with his points, there is a huge difference between creativity and inspiration. I could look up tips on the Internet for “X easy steps” to achieving your artistic goals, but that won’t help you much—before undergoing any creative endeavours, you should learn how to use your well of inspiration first!
“There is a huge difference between creativity and inspiration.”
When you feel even an inkling of inspiration, don’t dismiss it; if you nourish your creativity, it’ll nourish you right back. Don’t fear failing. Don’t worry about all the work it’ll take to create something. Don’t compare your work to the work of others. I know it’s easy to do those things, but they’re the very reasons you aren’t creative.
They’re why you feel uninspired.
So instead of doing those things, you should…
Why is creativity important to you? What inspires you? Where would you like your inspiration to take you? Were you once more creative than you are know? When did things change? Who do you love, admire, and aspire to be? Once you’ve answered those questions—like, put a pen to paper and physically written down the answers—you should ask yourself how you feel about your responses. You may learn more about yourself than you thought possible, and your newfound knowledge could give you a better perspective on yourself and your own creativity. When that happens, you’ll probably be far more averse to neglecting your creativity.
“Don’t fear failing. Don’t worry about all the work it’ll take to create something. Don’t compare your work to the work of others. [Those things are] why you feel uninspired.”
Be (Really) Introspective
Write down your strongest feelings and explain them. Identify your emotions and dig to the source of them. Address negative emotions, too, and pour them out on a page with words, drawings, or whatever else—liken your anger to fire, your sadness to a deep lake, your disappointment to climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and realizing you can’t see a thing past the clouds. You can use introspection to not only unleash your creativity, but to enhance your general health! According to an article in Psychology today, “introspection can be a process of healthy self-reflection, examination, and exploration, which is good for your well-being and your brain.”
“Search, dig, explore. You’ll eventually create.”
Write things beyond what you’d be comfortable with saying out loud. Learn what you love about yourself, what your favourite colour really is, or why you love a particular band. Search, dig, explore. You’ll eventually create.
Observe the World
When you look at things in the world—dusk and dawn, children and adults, diamonds and coal—make comparisons. Examine ideas that are very different (or very similar) and blend them together to create something new. Your ideas don’t even have to make sense. All you’re doing is discovering your own take on the world.
Learn to love colour. Think about the textures, feelings, memories, objects, places, and smells that you associate with certain colours. Use all your senses to take in every bit of beauty in your surroundings, like the scent of jasmine or the trickling sound of a nearby river. The world around you is very much alive, and you have to realize that. Otherwise, you won’t be able to convince yourself (or your audience) that your artwork is alive.
At the end of the day, you should never fear the pursuit of things that will improve you. Artists are often their own worst critics, but creating and analyzing are fundamentally different things; during the creative process, criticism has no place. Don’t for a second think that your work is bad when you’re still fixing it as you go. As a creator, you’re continuously learning. So instead of shying away from projects, treat them as opportunities to improve. No amount of articles (including this one!) or wise pieces of advice can truly influence your creativity unless you act on them.
Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work, says: “I write to write—not to necessarily get published or praised. I write because I have to. And as I do the work, something mystical happens: I get inspired.” Goins reinforces the point that if you feel it is your job to create—your vocation, in fact—then you must tend to the sparks of your ideas as they hit. Do the work you were called to do—not doing it would simply lead to further stagnation and lack of inspiration.
“[If] it is your job to create—your vocation, in fact—then you must tend to the sparks of your ideas as they hit.”
Through all this, I may have forgotten to mention that the dictionary has a second definition of creativity: “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, and relationships; […] originality, progressiveness, or imagination.”
That sounds more like it, huh?
Get out there and transcend ideas. Break the rules. Find new patterns. Make new relationships. I promise that it will all be worth it, and your lack of inspiration will feel like a passing dream that you’ll never have to revisit.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.