Amretasgraphics challenged me to muse on inspiration and getting inspired for the summer 2011 issue of Amretasgraphics Blogzine.
Inspiration is elusive. I have found that if I wait for inspiration, the creative impulse gets up and goes somewhere else. It is only by doing something, anything art-related on a regular basis that the Muse comes and sits with me.
When I doodle every day, even for just 5 minutes, then visual ideas begin to swirl. When I write, even for just 10 minutes every day, then ideas for my blog and articles begin to surface. I don’t need a special place (although it’s nice and I do have my little painting space with a dreamboard and a plant nearby) but I do need consistent time.
I used to think that schedules were confining, but now I embrace them. They give me structure and that’s just what I need to be creative. I walk for a half hour first thing in the morning and enjoy all the ideas that start bubbling as I move my body. I write for at least 15 minutes after breakfast and sometimes it’s wonderful, but most of the time it isn’t. However, it opens my mind and makes other writing I do during the day flow more easily. And I doodle in a journal for 5 minutes before I go to bed. Since I started following this schedule (which is pretty flexible), I’ve been more creative and felt more free. When I really need to get something done, using a timer helps me get it done. It sounds counter-intuitive, but for me, being on the clock makes things happen. I can do anything for half an hour….and usually that half hour is amazingly productive, when I force myself to focus on nothing else for half an hour.
I like to work on several projects at once and bounce between them. Somehow, taking a break from writing to draw or cook in stages helps give my brain a little mini-break and when I return to the original project, things flow again. On good days I go from an hour on the computer to an hour of painting to a half hour of reading to more writing, then painting, then cooking…and it all feels like a wonderful circle of creative productivity.
Among my must-haves is music. Although I don’t need a special place for most of my creative work, I do have a favorite CD which helps me focus on whatever I’m doing: Theta Transport by Tommy Brunjes. Most trance/electronic music works for me, but I’m really enjoying Theta Transport right now. I also have relaxation cd of ocean waves that I find very effective in helping me concentrate as well.
There are times when I want to do something, but can’t pull an idea out of my head. That’s when I go to the Inspiration folder on my computer – it’s a virtual scrapbox of images, links, quotes, and ebooks. There is always something in there that sparks an idea and gets things rolling. And I am constantly on the lookout for something new to put in my folder– even the hunt for inspiring things is an inspiration!
Drawing Zentangles is a wonderful way to get back to creativity. You divide your paper into sections (called “tangles”) and then you choose from a palette of repetitive designs, and then you fill each section with a design. And when you are done, you have something amazing. I got inspired by the book, Zentangle Basics by Susan McNeill, and love to use Indian bridal henna fill patterns in my tangles.
When all else fails and I’m really feeling mired in creative despair, I take a class. Classes get me off my butt and somewhere else (even if it’s just a new screen on the computer). They introduce new ideas, new perspectives, new techniques and connect me with new people – very inspiring! The last class I took was the Take Back Your Creativity e-course. It really helped get back on track and back into the creativity habit.
Ultimately, creativity is, for me, a habit. When things feel stuck I just have to keep practicing. When fog descends on my brain as it does from time to time, I just need to keep doodling every day even if I’m only copying designs. I need to keep writing every day even if it is just writing to-do lists. I need to just keep doing something, ANYTHING…and then the wheels eventually start to turn, the engine runs smoothly and ideas spin again.