Inspiration is an interesting phenomenon. Sometimes you’re struck with a sudden burst of energy and it infuses everything you do and write, creating amazing pieces of work that bring you immense pride. Other times, the mere thought of picking up your pen makes you want to curl up in a blanket burrito and hide.
So, how do you find inspiration, and more importantly, how do you hold onto it once you’ve got it?
Let me start by saying that inspiration is a subjective and fluid experience; what inspires me may not inspire you, and what has inspired you one time may do nothing on another occasion.
Now, the real question is, what causes it? For me, it’s going for walks in nature, looking through photos on Instagram, and falling in love. It’s in the books I read, the flowers I smell, and the meals I cook. It comes from living mindfully, and picking up on small cues in daily life. It also comes from negative experiences such as mental health issues and breakups.
But what is life without both the ups and downs? I’m a firm believer that we need both if we’re going to live a meaningful life. And, if we only had positive experiences, our excitement levels would slowly come back to baseline, and inspiration would slow.
Does Lightning Strike Twice?
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “lightning never strikes the same place twice”. Is this true with inspiration? Will the same things that have inspired you before inspire you again?
I personally think that yes, the same source of inspiration can work several times. Think about a recent experience you had. For the sake of this post, let’s say you’ve been in love with a person for six months. Those six months spent with that person, as well as their qualities and quirks, are going to provide you with countless occasions that you can draw on for inspiration.
Now let’s do another example, perhaps a photo from your childhood. That photo may bring up all sorts of thoughts and memories that you’d forgotten about (or even repressed), which are all going to supply you with different angles that will prompt you to write numerous stories or poems. In the past, I’ve written four different poems, all based on the same photo!
To answer my second question, you don’t really need to “hold on” to inspiration once you’ve found it. I don’t think you can hold on to inspiration, that’s the nature of it.
As terrifying as that thought is for artists, writers, and photographers, especially those who make a living using their creative abilities, there’s an upside to inspiration: it’s going to smack you in the face again in no time.
Finding inspiration is easy; it’s in the food you eat, the people you talk with, and the photos you look at. The hard part is picking up on it and applying to your writing (or art, or photography). But, with some intentional awareness of what’s going on around you, you’ll soon be overflowing with ideas.
“If you’re waiting for the perfect moment, you’ll never write a thing because it will never arrive. I have no routine. I have no foolproof anything. There’s nothing foolproof.”