Every creative individual speaks of inspiration. We may define it in different ways, but we all seek it and welcome it when it comes. Most definitions of inspiration tell us that it is something or someone that causes us to feel excitement and a desire to do something, usually something creative. It is sometimes described as a deep-rooted passion and motivation. You’ll note that there are two parts to these descriptions: an initial feeling and a resulting desire. Something moves us. Something acts upon us and causes us to re-act.
For me, my understanding of inspiration is deepened by my knowledge of Spanish and the use of the word inspirar — which means not only to inspire in the creative sense, but to breathe in.
That’s how inspiration comes, I think. We don’t just see it, or hear it, we experience it. We breathe it in and allow it to fill us completely.
Inspiration is also the first step in the creative process. Even before we get ideas in our heads, long before we make any decisions about what we will draw, paint, sing, play, or write, we need inspiration.
Sadly, many creative individuals think that inspiration is something that happens of its own accord. It either comes or it doesn’t, and I’ve known a lot of aspiring writers who’ve waited day after day for some inspiration to strike.
One of my favorite “funnies” is this little quip:
I’ve known a lot of people who have this attitude, so in truth, this “funny” isn’t so funny at all.
I’m hoping that everyone reading this blog understands that inspiration isn’t something we wait for. It’s something we go out and find, something we make, something that is actually everywhere around us if we’re willing to look for it.
Inspiration can come from many sources, and that fact brings me back to the real topic of this post. It’s not about what inspiration is. It’s about where it is.
It truly can be anywhere and everywhere, but most of us have special places where we feel most inspired.
For me, it’s out in the woods, hiking over trails, breathing in the fresh air, and feeling the earth beneath my feet. I can also find inspiration when I’m near rivers, lakes, or gentle, babbling brooks. Sometimes just stepping outside and seeing the morning skies fills me with inspiration. Yes, I’m definitely inspired by nature, and maybe that’s why I love landscape painting so much.
Going places, doing things, having new experiences… all can be sources of inspiration. Listening to music can be very inspiring. Reading, watching movies, chatting with a friend, all have the potential to inspire.
Another — surprising — way of inviting inspiration is by clearing our mind a bit, focusing our attention fully on simple, mundane, routine tasks. I used to do a lot of ironing because inspiration invariably came. Same with washing dishes. Taking long walks has always inspired me. Meditation, too, can inspire.
Earlier this morning I spent a little time reading about Dutch mythology. I read about the fairies who came to the earth and became trees. I read about Donar’s Oak and the witte wieven who dwell in the forests.
All of these things inspired me. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll be painting any of these scenes or using them as narrative in my art. Inspiration for me isn’t a specific idea — the ideas will come later — but a burst of creative energy and excitement that wants to find expression through my art.
I like to fill myself up every day with inspiration — by going out into nature, by reading, by listening to classical music, by writing down thoughts and feelings. I try to grab hold of anything and everything that interests me, swallow it all up, and let it gather force with all the other bits and pieces I’ve collected until it becomes pure creative fire.
I’ve always considered myself very fortunate in that I know what inspires me. I know where and how to find it.
What about you? What inspires you?