The Road to Inspiration
I was walking down the street of Tel Aviv, on my way to dinner with my parents, when it suddenly struck me; the ending for my Sci fi novel, The Lost Puzzler. The strange thing was that I wasn’t even thinking about the novel at the time. To be honest, I haven’t written a word for over a year, mainly because the possible endings I came up with did not really work (but also because of other professional projects, my private life, lack of self-confidence and outright laziness.)
Yet here it was, an idea, a good idea, delivered straight into my consciousness when I least expected it. A true moment of ‘inspiration’.
The effect it had on me was dramatic. I began jumping up and down from excitement shouting ‘yea!’ as people were carefully giving me a wide berth, some even crossing the street, hastily walking away from the crazy person. I did not care, somehow, I made it to my parents and quickly wrote down several lines depicting the ending.
For the life of me, I do not know why I thought of the ending for the novel I have been working on and off for years right there and then. Inspiration is a fickle thing. It can appear when you’re least expecting it, or while dreaming, or taking a walk. The inspiration moment could be a monumental, life changing idea to just a clever piece of dialogue. You simply never know…
The other problem with inspiration is that it is fickle. As quickly as an idea comes to mind it can also dissipate into a fog. I tell you, nothing feels worst than knowing you had a great idea or a joke or a line, and not remembering what it was.
The famous Ludwig Von Beethoven used to walk everywhere with a sketchbook, just in case he would think of a tune or a harmonic sequence. Actually, most creative people I know, from stand-up comedian to authors to song writers, always carry something they could doodle on.
That said, we can make ourselves open to inspiration or, on the opposite, close ourselves to it. So here is my so-called-method to be open for inspiration.
· Work on your craft – Yea, that’s it. You can’t wait for the blessed with inspiration when you are on a deadline, and you shouldn’t! many times, I began writing a chapter thinking it would go one way and it veered another way, and there was no way I could have gone that road in my mind alone. Writing, or composing, or painting, is a craft and a skill, use it (or lose it).
· Find quite moments – I go on a run at nights, I drive without the radio on, I take (too) long hot showers. When my mind is not distracted by my surroundings it begins looking for stimulation, and that stimulation is thinking about stories. I know this works because when I was living in Ireland and doing stand-up comedy, the same method got me to think of jokes and lines, while now I think of stories and characters. It really does not matter what your art is, if you are of aa creative mind, you need to give it space to function in.
· Stay away from screens – I am an avid gamer, but when I am writing, I avoid playing computer games because despite any activity you might need to do in a game, you are a passive actor in someone else’s world. Don’t get me wrong, this is a lot of fun and I love doing it, but that means I will not think of anything else. I do take some “time off” creating but I know the price of it.
· Keep a notebook at all times (or write or record ideas on your phone).
· Be in a creative state of mind – stand up comedians start their days going over the news, trying to find an occurrence that would inspire a joke or a story. Keep your eyes and ears open, watch people, walk the streets like an urban photographer, always ready to take a mental snapshot.
What are your ways of attracting inspiration into your creations?