How To Be Inspired (And Other Tips For Creatives)

Flickr / Ben K Adams
Flickr / Ben K Adams

Getting into a normal routine was challenging at first. The rustling of keys as I walk through the door after a day of cubicle work, the spattering of garlic infused oil on the stovetop when I’m making dinner and the quiet calmness I feel when I lay my head down on my pillow. My alarm going off and the noisy tracks of the train that lines the soundtrack of my morning commute. These are things that make up a life, a life I was so desperate to maintain and hold down. After 2 decades of trying to learn how to live and survive with a brain and heart that won’t stop, I think I’ve finally figured it out. I can stop panting, slow down and take in some of the nuances of a world that I forgot existed.

Great writers and painters and expressionists, worshippers of art and beauty and tragedy and everything in between call on their inspirations, their muses, in mundane moments like I’ve described. Something that happens on their way to work or in the middle of a dinner party with their friends. Laughing or even having sex with a lover. The idea hits them like a bolt of lightning or a hot flash, rising in their belly, undeniable and inexcusable. They often describe themselves leaving, abandoning or stopping in the middle of what they’re doing to take notice, to jot down, to answer this call.

I can’t put myself in a category or a Hemmingway or a Plath or a Fitzgerald but I find myself looking for inspiration everywhere. I break out in cold sweats and my heart starts to race profusely as the thought of being completely void of it or something to write for and I have no idea where it will come from. Will I be walking in the park one day and have a sudden urge to reach for a pen and paper? Maybe I’m romanticizing it too much but I’m a writer at heart, it’s what I do, my imagination is livid and out of control. I’m not really sure how to moisten the lips of my creative dry spell, I feel lost and out of whack.

Going through heartache has kept my mind racing in one direction, forcing all of my body and soul to nurse that one very bloody and stubborn wound that refuses to boil down. The pain is numbing my senses and I feel like I have nothing left to give, I’m all dried up and have nothing to show for it. History has taught me that self deprecation is kind of a pre-requisite when you choose something artistic to use as a release valve; ironic now that I think about it.

How I figure I will need to battle this horrible case of writer’s block:

1. Continue the routine: relish the mundane moments that make up life because only these memories will serve me at my most weakest.

2. Gratitude: always a great go-to when all else fails. When friends are busy, family seems too far and the noise of the TV gets too loud.

3. Write anyway: consistency is beautiful. It’s a full on slug fest that probably consists of really bad descriptions of what I had to eat that day. Jesus.

4. Not all criticism is good: not everyone knows how to interpret my work. I know that now after whore-ing it out to anyone with eyes and half a brain. So when I receive unsolicited opinions that I’m pretty sure I didn’t ask for, I know that I need to reel it in, keep it to the critical few and drown out the rest.

5. Make lists: like this one or a grocery list or a list of things to do for that day. i find putting things in chronological order or sorting items according to some sort of criteria helps organize my thoughts.

6. Read more: there is a bigger world out there and is being analyzed and interpreted and broken down and spit back out by some pretty gifted artists so I try to drink it in like a sponge and soak in the prose, punctuation, grammar, content, illustration and imagery that anyone who’s putting a pen to a paper or a key stroke to a document can teach me.

This is a list in progress, like me. And I don’t really do all of these things but I try things because God knows I need to. Being committed to creating something that is an extension of myself has been so challenging and heart wrenching and painful and I don’t know if I’m removed enough from it yet to even see the benefit of my toiling.

But I know that if I want to do something, make a mark on the world as I see it, I must do nothing but keep going forward no matter what. TC mark

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