by David B. Bohl
Creative people are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” or “Where do you get your inspiration?”
What people usually mean by these questions is, “How can I find my own inspiration?”
The surprising thing about inspiration is that it rarely comes when you’re sitting on the beach waiting for an idea to strike from the heavens.
Most creative people get inspired by sitting down and working on a project.
Let’s take a writer. She has an idea for a book, and knows she wants to write about a young artist who loses her sight in a car accident.
Our writer does not sit down in her comfortable recliner and just “think” about her story. She instead sits down at her desk and starts writing the story, or at least writing about the character.
She may start writing a character sketch, or make up a story involving the character to learn more about her.
As she works, she becomes “inspired” and makes notes for later in the story, as she really begins to understand what she is writing and get moving on the story.
The next day, when she comes back to write, she again may not feel inspired at first, but she has the work from the previous day to start with, and the inspiration comes.
The real story behind finding inspiration is that inspiration comes when you devote energy to something. Inspiration is not usually a sudden stirring in your brain that you just have to jump up and work with.
It’s more like a stream of water that originates from a hand pump. You must prime the pump, and then pump for a while, and then the water begins to flow. Just standing in front of the pump doesn’t produce water, but many people spend a lot of time looking at the pump wondering how it works.
To get inspired, the best thing you can do is just start working. You may find that your early steps are not what you eventually want, and you may have “wasted” work, but it’s not wasted if it gets you to your eventual destination, which is an inspired final product.
Inspiration is not nearly as hard to find, or as hard to keep flowing, as people often believe it is, but the difficulty with inspiration is that it does not always flow immediately, and many people are too impatient to keep moving through the beginning work to reach the inspiration.
It is sometimes hard to find inspiration. Sometimes we work for much longer than we expect, and just can’t get the energy flowing right. Sometimes we need to walk away and come back. But inspiration is far more consistent than most people realize.
This week, as you look for inspiration in your life, remember:
- Get started with your work, and the inspiration will come. Spend at least 30 minutes getting inspired before you give up.
- Watch what inspires you. Notice the things that really bring inspiration pouring forth.
- Try to leave your desk each day with a little fuel, in the form of notes, waiting for the next day.