Whatever your field, you’re likely to need creative inspiration from time to time. I certainly do. And lately, battered by a bout of my own verbal vapidity, I wondered what might crank up my creativity and land me back in the land of productive imagination. My usual tricks for refilling the well — walking, contemplating a work of art, immersing myself in an exquisite passage in a favorite novel — just weren’t cutting it.
So… Now what?
I adore verbs for their power, their precision, their finesse. They serve as the impetus for a proverbial kick in the derrière when inspiration is lagging behind desire, or when fatigue trumps will.
I thought of a few of my favorite verbs, not necessarily the fanciest or most esoteric among them, but those that motor me forward through tough times or sluggish periods — my steadiest, sturdiest cohorts in creative companionship — dream, believe, dare.
I asked myself, “Do I still dream? Do I still have the desire and capacity to dream?”
I asked myself, “Can I believe in my dreams? Can I believe in my ability to continue pursuing them? And if the answer to these questions is no, what does life look like? Is that really the life I want to lead?”
I asked myself, “Do I dare to fail? And if I fail, do I dare to pick myself up again and keep trying?”
Ordering Up Inspiration
I also sought insights and inspiration courtesy of quotes on creativity. I may consider them a temporary “fix,” yet using Brainy Quotes as my quick-and-easy source, I found food for thought.
This, from performance artist Marina Abramovic, essentially tells us that “ego” poses an obstacle to actually doing the work. In other words, “if you start believing in your greatness,” she tells us, that is “the death of your creativity.”
Hmmm. Ego? Thinking too much of myself? That isn’t and never has been an issue for me, but I have observed it in others, though honestly, most of the artists I have known personally have suffered from an excess of the opposite tendency — never feeling quite good enough or deserving of the accolades they receive.
Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma has these words that I find very compelling:
Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate then you’re more willing to take risks.
Survival in a Noisy, Distracting, Difficult World
Note that Yo-Yo Ma cites passion as one great force that unleashes creativity. It is certainly not the only force, and I am reminded of an adage I learned long ago:
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Pressing needs encourage us to push beyond our usual boundaries, to ask new and often painful questions, and to pursue solutions others may not consider — however far-fetched they may seem to naysayers. This is frequently a matter of survival.
Might I add: Those who are willing to pursue the unknown require a high tolerance for both risk-taking and failure.
And what about the pure love of discovery? Seeking and creating as their own purpose and reward? Whether reaching for the stars, literally, or staring through a microscope, or living out a love of travel — doesn’t the drive for new experiences expand our understanding, engender additional questions, and thus ignite innovation and positive change?
Change as Instigator
Speaking of innovation, enjoy this quote on change, innovation, and creativity from someone I hadn’t heard of, 19th-century clergyman William Pollard.
Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.
There’s no question that all change is not for the better. However, can’t we reasonably assume that change, wanted or unwanted, forces some of us to be more creative than we might otherwise be? That change is both instigator and outcome of creative problem-solving?
However much we chafe at the challenges inherent in change, aren’t they vital to learning and advancement?
Can aphorisms and perspectives like some of above truly help refill the creative well?
For me, I have always preferred to take a step back, and ask why. I believe in asking why, in getting to core issues that are causing specific behaviors. So why does my enthusiasm feel weak? Why am I in such need of creative inspiration?
Tedium, which is not the same as boredom, comes to mind. I recognize tedious aspects of my current lifestyle. I also note that overwhelming change is not something I want these days, having embarked on exactly that a little over a year ago. And to be honest, I’m still dealing with it, and know that more significant changes lie ahead.
I am also aware that my little world is insufficiently populated, a factor in my “creative spirit” feeling undernourished. But the only person who can change this situation is me.
How I manage it? TBD.
So where do you turn when you are feeling creatively flat?
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