Inspiration involves both vision and industry.
Because I dabble in several artistic fields (with varying degrees of proficiency), I frequently run across articles on how to beat creative block or find inspiration. Although the audiences of these articles vary according to creative medium, the content often overlaps. The tips usually fall into one of two categories: 1) vision (how to see/hear differently) or 2) industry (how to work differently).
Key to overcoming my own struggles with “lack of inspiration” has been figuring out in which of these two categories my particular problem lies. Sometimes I think I need to work harder when in reality, I need to step back and define what I’m working to accomplish (vision problem). Other times, I think I need more ideas when in reality, I need to start working to refine the ones I have (industry problem).
The difference can be explained in terms of trimming a bush. If I trim but never step back to see the overall shape, I’ll likely end up with something grossly misshapen. Alternatively, if I just stand back trying to envision what the bush should look like, the bush will never change. At some point I need to start trimming.
While anyone who has attempted anything artistic grapples with both sides of creative block at some point, I think many of us are prone to one particular side based on personality, education, etc. Knowing our own tendencies is a major step towards overcoming a “lack of inspiration.”
September 21, 2010 No Comments
I spent several hours driving up and across lovely Washington state this past weekend. Unless there’s inclement weather or a traffic jam, driving is typically refreshing for me. Washington’s changing scenery never ceases to amaze me — particularly now, when the leaves are turning color.
I also appreciate the distraction-free time that long drives provide. Though I do enjoy listening to music, podcasts, or books on tape, I try to spend part of each drive in silence to refine the tangled trains of thought typically cluttering my mind. This past weekend, my thoughts centered on maintaining wonder / inspiration as an artist — which I’ll post here over the next few days.
Inspiration is a process, not a single moment in time.
When I think of the word “inspiration,” the first image that springs to mind is a lightbulb coming on over someone’s head. For myself, discouragement from “lack of inspiration” has often stemmed from an over-romanticized view of what inspiration really is. True inspiration doesn’t stop with an idea. It only starts there.
Furthermore, inspiration isn’t recognized unless there is an actual product or result. We don’t speak of someone being inspired unless they have produced something. We call people who have great ideas but no product dreamers.
Of course ideas are necessary. But I think if you were to talk to most successful, productive artists — no matter what their medium — they’d tell you that often their ideas were shaped over time, and that their ideas were clarified — sometimes very slowly — as a result of consistent work. Furthermore, some of the ideas that at first seemed “inspired” turned out to be…well, not quite.
In a nutshell: inspiration isn’t measured by the number of ideas received, but by the quality of the ideas communicated.
September 20, 2010 No Comments