Inspiration originates from a burning desire to create something, and, in turn, the act of creating something begins with the need to express yourself. If you’re a writer, perhaps there’s a subject you want to write about or a story you’re yearning to tell. Much of my own inspiration comes from my lived experiences as well as from reading the words of other writers I admire. I know when I’m inspired because, after I read others’ works, all I want to do is sit down and write myself.
Other ways to garner inspiration can include being in nature — perhaps by sitting in a park or taking a walk. Nature has a magical way of nurturing our spiritual and creative selves. Also, according to Jay Dufrechou in his book Moving Through Grief: Reconnecting with Nature, nature can encourage psychological healing and growth. For example, wilderness therapy is considered invaluable for women, young people, and those who’ve survived both physical and psychological abuse. Needless to say, what inspires you, who inspires you, and how you get inspired depends on your mood and on the particular day.
Whether you’re a fledging, an emerging, or a seasoned or published writer, and no matter if your medium is poetry or prose, you need to constantly nurture your creativity and find ways to remain inspired. For some people, this is an easy task, while others must feed their muses on a daily basis. These forms of inspiration can be real or imaginary people who inspire you and help you create.
Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who has done extensive research on the subject, defines creativity as any act, idea, or product that has the ability to transform an existing domain or situation. A creative person is someone whose thoughts or actions do much the same thing. Creativity, of course, does not only apply to writers, but to any individual who feels a need to create, such as artists, dancers, musicians, and the like.
For creative and artistic individuals, it is not uncommon to feel inspiration and flow one day, and then wake up the next morning to find that the inspiration just isn’t flowing. Just about every creative person has experienced this phenomenon, and it’s perfectly normal. The exciting part is that you never know when inspiration will strike, so it’s a good idea to be prepared by keeping a notebook or sketchpad with you.
When you’re in the flow of your work, you won’t feel time slip away; rather, you may go into a sort of trancelike, blissful state. Those who have experienced it say that it’s a high like no other. However, even when you achieve this wonderful state, there will be times when you feel stuck and the creativity just doesn’t flow easily. If you’re a writer, you might want to try author Marcel Proust’s approach, which involves engaging in stream-of-consciousness writing to release unconscious ideas and fresh ideas from your mind. This type of writing might feel as if you’re simply “dumping on the page.” You never know where the dumping will lead, and if it never leads anywhere, that’s okay, too!
Another way to become inspired is to keep company with those who inspire you through their actions and conversation. Most often, these people exude positive, creative, and nourishing energy. Author Ray Bradbury said that there are many different ways to nourish the muse, and one ritual he advocated was reading poetry every day. He said that poetry “flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition.”
You can also become inspired by sitting in cafés and restaurants and becoming engaged in the fine art of people-watching. Eavesdropping on what others are talking about can nourish your creativity and give you inspiration. French fiction writer Honoré de Balzac was often seen sitting in Parisian cafés for hours, watching people and writing.
In his book The Muses Among Us, Kim Stafford writes:
I don’t begin, the writing does. I don’t try. I yield. I have written in trees, on planes, by flashlight, during symphonies, by the light of a movie screen, while driving (I’ve lately sworn off this), during faculty meetings, and while making dinner. Every shirt must have a pocket and every pocket a notebook and a pen. Once the muse bites, it’s delicious anywhere. For the act of writing begins before you consciously know if you have time. Your hands do it.
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Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com