The Myth of Creative Inspiration
"Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones." — Bruce Garrabrandt.
You find yourself creatively inspired while on a run and are excited to write down all of your unique ideas once you make it back home. You then sit down, pull out your notebook and find that the inspiration is gone.
Welcome to inspiration's fickle nature. It isn't waiting on you.
Myths Passed Down
The Greeks believed in the Muses, companions of the god Apollo, who would descend to earth to whisper creative ideas into humanity's ears. This would, in turn, allow for people to be capable of creating beautiful masterpieces and works of art. The belief in this "divine inspiration" has continued into the present day, give or take a few gods.
The myths of the chosen few who can sit down and harness their God-given talents and use inspiration to create effortless masterpieces have been told for generations.
This myth is a lie.
Inspiration will appear, disappear, and seem to hide away when we're trying our hardest to find it. Or if you're like me, it'll appear in the middle of a run and seemingly vanish when I arrive home. It doesn't seem to be as reliable as we thought.
After losing most of my inspiration during COVID-19, I learned that my reliance on waiting to be inspired actively harms my creative process. There had to be something more reliable to place my trust in. That's where practice and lowered judgment come into play.
Set aside time to practice your craft daily (even when you don't want to)
Stephen King makes time to write at least 2,000 words a day. Maya Angelou would rent a hotel room and write between 6:30 AM to 2 PM every day. Good artwork is not produced out of some ethereal realm or divine inspiration for these artists; it comes through process and repetition.
Consistent patterns and routines allow for mastery over time. Compare Stephen King's work ethic to that of George R. R. Martin, who has yet to release the final book of his acclaimed Game of Thrones series after ten years. The only way to produce good work is to permit yourself to practice your craft every day.
Realize that you are the worst person to critique your work
Look up artists that hated their work, and you'll find an endless list of people like Billy Joel, Franz Kafka, Radiohead, and Claude Monet. Why do we hold these people up as leaders in their respective mediums while simultaneously they failed to see their greatness? Weren't they divinely inspired or spoken to by the Muses? No.
We are the worst judges of our work's quality.
Hating one's work can be a useful tool in the short term, as it can motivate you to master advanced skills of your craft and quickly move onto your next project. However, it can stop you in your tracks and keep you from creating in the first place. Amateurs wait about to feel positive about their work. Real growth and excellence develop through sitting down and getting it done even when you don't want to.
Inspiration is something that you should use and welcome whenever it happens to knock at your door. In the meantime, sit down, make a schedule, create your artwork, and repeat. Motivation and inspiration are fickle. Let your work speak for itself.