Where do you find inspiration? What causes one moment to pass completely unnoticed and another to trigger a flurry of activity?
Truth be told, I don’t think inspiration comes from outside but rather from within. The exact same moment viewed at different times by the exact same individual may result in completely different responses depending on the openness of the individual to inspiration.
When you are open to inspiration, you witness and experience life through a completely different lens, one that sees connections and patterns between events and objects that do not necessarily exist in the forms themselves.
The priests sitting in the bar become a foil for the man trying to pick up women. The dog urinating on a building becomes the unwitting initiator of the death of 275 people in an office tower. The crows on the telephone lines become dark angels surveilling the land, awaiting the arrival of a malevolent spirit.
The irony of inspiration coming from within, however, is that it is something you cannot really will into existence. You can easily sit for hours with pen poised over paper, awaiting inspiration’s wafting arrival, only to realize that days have gone by without result. And trying to force your way through artistic constipation only seems to worsen the situation as you strain against the blockage by forcing invisible connections. Rarely, if ever, will inspiration make itself known to you in this way.
All you can really do is till the soil in which inspiration will implant itself and hopefully germinate. Rather than clear away all distraction, you may find it better to envelope yourself in distraction. By allowing the mental and spiritual noise to flow over, under and through you, you remove the hard edges of the real world and let the boundaries criss-cross in chaotic flux, searching for new patterns that your mind’s eye can mark.
It may also be helpful to engage your mind in someone else’s art, whether of the same medium as yours or no, but remembering to also give your mind permission to wander.
There is no exam at the end of the novel you’re reading. No request to reproduce the painting you are viewing. No critical essay to argue once the concerto has ceased.
So let yourself go and let yourself respond—consciously and viscerally—to the art. Let a word, image or note ricochet through your mind until it attaches itself to an earlier thought or feeling. Don’t try to define or even understand the clusters that form but rather observe them until the need to create takes hold.
Inspiration is about the initial amount of discovery, not the final product. An ephemeral spirit, inspiration is likely to dissipate at your first attempt to put a leash on it. You cannot present inspiration with a road map and expect it to clear the path ahead. Rather, you must follow inspiration as it meanders, bearing witness to the miracles it triggers.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere and anywhere, when you are ready to let it be seen.