:: inspiration ::

August 28, 2009
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Where does inspiration come from?

As an artist, we rely on this invisible muse to swoop in and drive our creative process. I saw a speech that Elizabeth Gilbert gave on nurturing creativity. As a brief aside, I absolutely love her way of speaking and writing, she I find absolutely inspiring. I digress.

She  speaks to the seeming fragility of the creative person, siting the many tortured, fallen artists a long the way, “undone by their gifts” most of whom have collapsed at their own hand. She talks about this universally accepted notion that artistry leads to anguish. How did this become linked? Apparently years and years ago gifted artists attributed their creative bounty to a separate entity: the genius. The creative genius was not an internal voice, it was something to give thanks and praise to, absolving us when the creativity did not flow freely, letting us off the hook when there was a brick wall and insulating us from intense criticism. It wasn’t me…it was my ‘genius’. Some where along the way we swallowed this genius and took credit for its successes and wallowed in its failures. She suggests to protect the fragile artist, we need to get back to that…to be able to say “well, sorry Blank, I know you expected something spectacular and innovative, but my Genius failed to show up at work today”. Slacker Genius.

As someone who is expected by career choice to be creative every single day, the pressure can certainly wear on you. People are always saying how they don’t know how we do it…everyone has their own strengths I suppose? Personally I often wonder how people do finance or accounting all day. But where do these ideas come from? Sometimes I have no idea where the ideas come from, and let me just say–they aren’t all winners. Sometimes that page is so blank it can be paralyzing. It is easy to let yourself slip into that dark, idea-less abyss. A cavern that seems to have no out in sight. But the most rewarding solutions come after the darkest hour as it were. How do you get passed it?

Creativity begets creativity. It is like a muscle. The more you work it the stronger it gets. I find the ideas come faster when I am at my busiest. But it is amazing where the inspiration can come from. Your entire personal universe is available for inspiration if you are open to it. If you notice it. If you let it in. I am about to get hippieish…but I am inspired by small things: bunches of peonies, storm clouds, gas station candy displays, random songs on the radio–it is everywhere. And everyone is creative in their own way. For some people being creative is a less obvious exercise, but creative all the same.

I am going to have to reread this the next time my Genius is on holiday.