From where does your inspiration arise? Perhaps you’ve got a muse, something or someone who inspires you, with perhaps great descriptions filled with details, dialogue that could have been heard through the paper-thin walls of a Chinese restaurant, plot that is a cross between Mission Impossible (pick any version) and Steel Magnolias, or characters as diverse as Lenny from Of Mice and Men to Darth Vader of Star Wars. Maybe everywhere you look you see the potential for some object or piece of information that is taken in through one of the senses to be used in a story or poem, song or recipe, sketched on a tablet, or filled in with bright, cheerful colors. Or maybe you’re like most creative people, and at some point, no matter where you look or what you hear, nothing comes to you. Your mind is blank. A Chevy Nova parked crookedly in a driveway where the trash can has been knocked over and the sagging porch hangs low over steps in desperate need of repair and paint . . . brings absolutely nothing to your muse. Is She sleeping? you wonder. Perhaps She’s cashed in Her frequent flier miles and has taken off to Aruba, pirates be damned!
What do you do when it seems as if the spark of creativity is nowhere to be found, and despite your best intentions to bring it back, it remains, stubbornly, aloof and silent? Even professional writers, poets, chefs, painters, sculptors, and photographers slip into a place where things seem to have dried up. If there is any amount of perseverance, they try something new, different, something to get the waterfall of ideas once again cascading over the edge and out their medium to share with the world. To have success, artists of all types realize that their inspiration must be fed, refilled, redefined, pampered, encouraged, coerced, bargained, stroked, loved, coddled, stretched, refueled, rested, poked, and massaged. The question is, how?
Classes. Enrolling in a creative writing (painting, dancing, cooking, photography, sculpting, jewelry) course (with or without credit), online or in person, offers the artist a new approach by way of practice exercises and feedback by someone outside their immediate circle. It is quite possible that the activities could spark the next project, or a connection could be made with the instructor or a classmate to collaborate, to be referred to another artist, or to be introduced to a whole different medium.
Workshops. Similar to classes, workshops give the artist a one-day opportunity to stretch their creativity or brush up on skills that may have gotten a little stagnant from disuse, or depleted from overuse. Still, acquaintances could be made and avenues in the arts, explored.
Books. Not just books, because in the Information Age this includes videos, blogs, podcasts, radio shows, webinars, teleseminars, pdf downloads, CD’s, DVD’s, ezines, and probably some others that I don’t even know about! There is always someone sharing their expertise, ideas, suggestions, and projects. And being inspired by another creative being is what community is all about.
Environment. I’ve mentioned it several times, have given myriad examples in this blog. Look outside your window, walk to your mailbox, sit at a table in the local diner or coffee shop, and lay on the grass and watch the clouds float by (When was the last time you did this? When you were 8?). A color, an object, your pet, the temperature, the leaf blower or garbage truck, fresh brewed coffee or the moldy cheese in the fridge. Everywhere around you there is inspiration available for you to serve up to your muse. Take a look, a sniff, a touch, a listen, a taste, and see what images float through you. Don’t dally! Grab a pen and paper or brush or charcoal or fry pan and get to work! There are masterpieces to be created!
Leave a comment as to where you find your inspiration. And if you still can’t seem to locate that spark, check out the archives of this blog. Each post offers at least one suggestion. Even if none of them appeal to you, try one or two anyway. It could be that the ego, the critic, is dissatisfied with everything, and not allowing you to hear the soft, whispery voice of that which allows you to create, to touch joy. www.myjoyenterprises.com is my web site where I have short stories, poems, and the first few chapters of my novels for you to read. I’ve also recently added some Tips. Check out the Books & Writings page, and see if something doesn’t speak to you. But you have to get quiet, and you have to listen.