“Inspiration” is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language in the following way:
“1. a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
b. The condition of being so stimulated.
2. An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired.
4. The quality of inspiring or exalting: a painting full of inspiration.
5. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind. ..”
So where do we go or what do we do to tap into this “well of creativity”… this “inspiration”? Oh, we can all point to moments when the thrill of something we saw, perhaps on a majestic mountainside or something we heard, in a hall of great music, sparked a flow of creativity. That experience caused us to delve into our chosen creative endeavor – writing, drawing, painting, filmmaking, quilting, house-building, music-making – whatever it may be with renewed enthusiasm. The avenues of creative expression are varied and broad and it never ceases to amaze me how people conceive such extraordinary things!
So, how do they do it?
We “get” those mountain peak moments, but a level of creative endeavor that produces enough of those inspiring moments to nurture other creative spirits must come from a deeper well than the occasional outbursts of motivation.
How does the beginner muster the emotional energy and confidence to embark on a creative endeavor, or how do those seasoned individuals in the creative fields drum up enough stimulation time after time after time to persevere?
I speak not as an expert, but as a follower sojourner walking the road through the creative fields. From this point of view I would put forth the unlikely and perhaps scary word called discipline.
Discipline? You say…what an uninspiring word!
Not so! The Olympic athlete, the talented violin virtuoso and the successful novelist do not arrive at their lofty destinations by a continual string of inspirational moments but rather by a determination to keep going, to keep trying, to start again, perhaps failing many times along the way – but learning a little more for each effort. They persist and that takes an enormous amount of discipline.
And so inspiration, for all its head-in-the-cloud moments often comes down to putting one foot in front of the other, casting one’s eye on the goal and summoning the courage to start again.
We may think it is the achievement of other we are admiring in their wildly creative endeavors, but at the core of the matter it is more likely that we are admiring the ability to keep on going and not losing heart.
And as for the ability to not lose heart, I would personally point to the fifth dictionary definition and recognize that help from above. For it is not merely a matter of the “mind,” but rather of the “mind AND soul” that that allows one to tap into that truly inexhaustible well of creativity.