I knew I was going to be writing an article on how to find inspiration. I’m a creative person, an artist, writer, musician – this would be a breeze right? I thought that only until I grabbed my oversized coffee mug and sat down by my sleek MacBook with a lavender protective case (because all creative people need coffee mugs and Apple products in pursuit of hipster artistry) and… well… no words came out. None. Oh the irony of having no inspiration when discussing inspiration! So I did what every self-sufficient Millennial would do: I googled it. “How does (fill in the blank artist) find inspiration?” This turned out to be disadvantageous. Apparently everyone seems to find his or her inspiration through way too varied and even contradictory practices. I was lost.
I turned to the artistic people in my life. I’m surrounded by some seriously creative creators. They must know how to find inspiration, right? But they all had different methods and no one way to describe how they are inspired. Some ran, some drove, some stared at walls for hours. But to bottle up inspiration in one easy-to-grasp method – they couldn’t help me there.
So I conjured up this deep, philosophical theory based on the idea that there is no one way to describe or feel inspiration just like there is no one way to describe or feel love. I proceeded to share my revelation with my boyfriend, an oil painter and true artist. As I quickly stumbled over all of the words flowing out of my mouth at alarming speeds, I believed he was staring back at me because he was… well… you know… listening? Which boosted my confidence. I thought to myself, “This talented and successful artist is buying my interpretation of inspiration – I’m the shit!” He was looking so intently at my face, I just knew I had hit the mark on supreme intelligence and insight. “They’ll probably ask me for a book deal after I write this article,” I thought. Then he spoke up:
“I love the way that hat sits on your head. I want to paint it. Don’t move. I’m taking a picture.”
And that’s it folks! That’s inspiration. It’s when a talented artist is supposed to be listening to his girlfriend talk, but instead can only see the hat upon her head – the way it tilts and frames her face and the strand of hair that falls at just the right place.
The truth is inspiration can’t be bottled up. So I can’t sell it to you for three small payments of $19.99. I can’t teach it to you in eight pithy points. Inspiration finds us somewhere between magic and working our asses off. Somewhere between wild experiences and bored monotony. Somewhere between hiding in frustration and showing up in bravery.
Inspiration comes to me sometimes when I travel. But then sometimes not. Inspiration comes to me sometimes when I’ve been sitting at a laptop for hours plugging away – searching thesauruses, researching heavy material, and writing line after line after line. But then sometimes it brings nothing. Sometimes laughing to Amy Poehler, or listening the “Acoustic Afternoon” playlist on Spotify, or kissing my boyfriend does the inspiration trick. But sometimes they don’t work. (Except kissing, kissing always works).
So instead, here’s my real article:
“How to Kinda Find Inspiration Sometimes, But Maybe Not” by Taylor DuVall
Find some creative pursuit that you like. It can be conventional like piano or drawing. Or maybe you like creating algorithms. To each her own. But it must be something that makes you light up like stars or fireworks. At least sometimes. Then practice that thing. Get better at it. Sometimes you will feel inspired when you work at it. Sometimes you won’t. But still work at it.
Try different things to see if they inspire you. Try running so fast you could almost lift off the ground then try walking as slow as a turtle. One of those activities is bound to bring up something. Or travel to Timbuktu and then spend an afternoon in your own closet. See which one works better. Read a lot, watch a lot, hear a lot – always observe every dripping drop of life around you. Then just work at it. While you’re working, sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and stare at the ceiling if you like. Try lots of things – creative people can get away with trying just about anything including weird outfits (just as long as they also carry oversized mugs and use Apple products).
But mostly remember: do creative things because you love doing them. Not because you are entitled to inspiration when you want to have it, but because we are human beings and we were made to create. And it’s awesome.