|Muse of Music|
I’m a big advocate of not forcing inspiration. When creativity is forced the outcome is usually terrible or unfinished.
But, sometimes, inspiration has to be forced. The deeper you wander into any professional arena, be it writing, illustration, music, acting, whatever, the more you run up against other people and their deadlines. So, whether or not you like it, you have to find ways to nudge Inspiration along.
Here, in no particular order, is how I court the muse:
1. Stay open
Simply be aware of your surroundings, of what that crazy dude a couple tables over is saying to his dog, of how the laundry stacks up when you don’t do it, of how the moon looks like it follows you when you are driving. Just be open! If you do this, you will more easily recognize Inspiration when she quietly creeps in at 3am in the morning. (“And just where have you been?”)
2. Don’t get frustrated
This goes along with number one. I’m going to use this very blog post as an example. All week I was mad at myself, irritated that I hadn’t thought of anything to write about today. I wondered why on Earth I thought I could keep a blog going. Then on Thursday night I stopped being mad because I really needed to think of something, anything. I had a goal, dangit. So, I shook off the negative feelings and let myself be open and I realized with a start that Inspiration was there the whole time, sitting on my couch and filing her perfect nails, just waiting for me to take notice. (Sorry, I like personification).
3. Do things that usually inspire you
You alone know what these things are. Wear your lucky socks, dance a jig, go into a trance OR do some of the more traditional things I’ve heard most people list like: listen to music, see a movie, read a book, visit a museum. Try ‘em all if you have to…just don’t wear your stinky, lucky socks around me.
4. Get out of your own way
This tip is in direct conflict with the tip above. But it works so here it is. Get out of the norm. Take a walk on the wild side. Try something new. You may find something interesting/surprising that you couldn’t have in your usual haunts.
5. Stay home and think
Don’t be afraid to explore in the deepest darkest corners of your mind. This is something I learned since getting involved with the bomb-tastic (Yeah, I said bomb-tastic, what?) children’s macabre lit ezine, Underneath the Juniper Tree. I had to sit up late one night with most of the lights off after the fam had gone to bed and dig around in my OWN fears for a solid hour before an idea hit me for a chilling short story. So get a sitter, rent a room, drive out to the middle of nowhere, I don’t care, just find a place without distractions and get lost in the stranger areas of your imagination.
6. Fake it till you make it
What is the most common advice for writers? Yep, “Write, write, write!” This isn’t only to help you practice and become better, I think it also helps invite inspiration. When I run into writer’s block my first instinct is to get away from my writing, throw my netbook, stomp around the house, grind my teeth, glare at myself in the mirror.... Then after a couple days I sit back down and stare at the blank screen. I hear, “Write, write, write. Just WRITE!” echoing in my brain and I rest my fingers on the keys. I start typing. I don’t force inspiration, I just allow myself to get some words out until some of them start to make sense. Every single time I do this, within a half hour, inspiration strikes and that writer’s block is nothing more than pebble in my rearview mirror.
7. Forget about the money
I know this is sounds strange but allow me to explain: don’t rely on how big your paycheck will be when you finish to help you get something done. I’m going to go out on a limb and reveal a truth that I think might permeate throughout the entire creative community. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. MONEY ISN’T AN INSPIRATION. Motivation, sure. But inspiration? Nope. Why? Because inspiration comes from somewhere inside. Remember why you are doing this in the first place. Because you love it, right? Right? Thinking about the money will probably only remind you of your deadline and stress you out. Just sayin'.
8. Surround yourself with creative and inspiring people
Not only are (most) creatives incredibly supportive but, generally, every word out of their mouths is something interesting/funny/epic/thought provoking…. Because when writers or artists have to speak (i.e. have to stop thinking about whatever they are currently working on) they make it count, probably because they are just used to telling themselves to make every word count…or maybe so they can just get back to creating as quickly as possible. Where do you find creative people? Here’s a mini list: Blogs, local critique groups, online critique groups, school,twitter, facebook, DeviantArt. Feel free add some more in the comments. ;)
9. Keep your faith
Okay, so I know not everyone is religious but plenty of us are, so, at the risk of offending some, I’m just going to say it. Talent is God given. Humbly ask him for help in achieving something and he is sure to listen. Like any loving father, he wants us to succeed both spiritually and temporally.
10.Don’t give up
I think this is the number one rule so of course I saved it for last. Remember that you are not alone. The best of writers and artist come across lulls in inspiration so know that you are in good company and don’t let Inspiration get away by giving up on her. If you employ her regularly she will stick around and will probably be a lot quicker to arrive when you call.