“Okay, inspiration. GO!”
I used to try this every day and it never worked. I would sit around waiting for something to inspire me and if I was lucky, I’d get a brief 10 minutes of creativity only to slump back into the laborious process of doing nothing. When you have deadlines to meet and self-imposed standards to adhere to, sitting around and doing nothing actually becomes incredibly stressful.
Sometimes I would be watching television and thinking about all the things I should be doing, but not actually doing them. Life was passing me by but there was no motivation to do anything. I didn’t feel ‘inspired’ to do the things I wanted and needed to do. As a result, I felt bad about not doing them. At some point, I realised you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration. You’ve got to go out there and find it because trust me, it’s there.
I am a singer/guitarist and I often write songs. Consequently, I frequently run out of ideas. Sometimes inspiration just hits you and bam, you’ve got a song in 10 minutes. Other times, it’s a process of finding inspiration yourself. One song started off being about penguins just because I was thinking about them. That song eventually evolved into an emotional number about this couple and how a lot of people love. Isn’t it weird to imagine a meaningful song being borne out of penguins? (I’m sure that’s how The Beatles got started…)
So where can you get inspiration from? In short: everywhere. Want to write a blog but don’t have anything to write about? Think about the things you like and get inspired to write about them. Maybe you like drinking coffee – review some coffee shops. Maybe you like make-up, so why not experiment with that and post the results. Maybe you love music, why not go to a gig, take some photos and write about your experience? Perhaps you don’t like anything: tell us why, because that’s pretty darn interesting, you lovely cynic.
It’s not all about blogs though. Want to learn how to play an instrument? You can, given how easy it is now we have YouTube tutorials – Regina Spektor used to practice on tables. Want to write a story? Take your own story and tell it to other people. Alternatively, take a classic story and retell it in your own words. Can’t write? Podcast. Again, look online. The internet is your friend, use it. Has “the blanket of betterness” got you feeling down? Seeing your friend’s success can make you feel lousy but it shouldn’t; let their success inspire you. If they can do it then why can’t you? Trying will be better for you than this pity party for one you’ve been holding.
In all honesty, this is such a first world problem. When I was feeling a bit useless, I just wanted to shout at myself “STOP BEING LAZY! You are so lucky to be in this position, just get on with it.” I know that for anyone stuck in a rut, this approach is absolutely useless. To quote Stephen Chbosky from his book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.”
Instead of just waiting around for something to inspire you, do something out of the ordinary. It could be something that you need to do or something you never usually get round to doing. If you’re not happy with the results, try an alternative method next time, or write about how bloody awful it was.
I truly believe you can find inspiration in anything you want to and I sincerely hope that you do.