You know that feeling, right?
When you are struck by an incredible idea. When characters just stroll into your head, fully formed. When you sit down and the words just flow.
Do you really know that feeling? Because I don’t think I do.
I think that there is this perception that ‘creative’ people (I loosely include myself in this group) are habitually and inexplicably inspired. The arty gods send down a glorious concept from the heavens, it penetrates your coffee-numbed skull and suddenly, you’re possessed. Bam. Casual masterpiece.
But in the meantime, don’t expect anything earth-shattering. The creative brain is a mysterious thing and it can’t be pushed or prodded into delivering on command. If you expect it do do this, you’re really disrespecting our wondrous god-given artistic gifts.
Waiting for you next big idea is a fabulous excuse. While clothing your ‘process’ in an impressive air of mystique, it explains why you never seem to do anything. It also makes you feel special. People who question your unproductive ways are the villains . . . plain, boring, talentless people. It gives you an excuse to complain about how misunderstood you are and how society is squeezing all the spark from your creative soul.
But here’s the thing . . . most people don’t have time to wait for your next artistic awakening. And you probably don’t either. Mainly because, for most people at least, it’s not coming. Sorry.
Waiting for inspiration is a pretentious kind of laziness. It’s an easy trap to fall into, because starting something new requires so much energy. But ultimately it is not a productive way to work. I’m learning that coming up with good ideas is often about borrowing from other people, learning from the best. It’s also about trying not to judge the product before it’s all done – cutting the perfectionist down before it strikes and reduces you to a quivering pile of frustration and despair.
Maybe inspiration does visit some people . . . I guess I wouldn’t know. But I do know that for most mere mortals, creative enterprise involves hard work and forcing yourself to find ideas, rather than expecting them to dance into your mind from the depths of your subconscious. Ahhh hard work. Woe is me. Maybe I should just go back to watching TV.