Inspiration strikes and magic happens. That inspiration takes you on a journey, a journey that ends with the crafting of a masterpiece. Inspiration is the drug, creativity is the rush.
To push the drug analogy a little further than I should, It is entirely possible to be your own dealer. You can supply your own inspiration, you don’t have to wait for it to strike.
You may be forgiven for thinking that what I am about to tell you is nonsense, after all, inspiration is a mystical force of the universe, right?
We live in a culture that loves to measure and analyse things. Unfortunately, inspiration is overlooked. Some of the greatest works of art ever created have come from people who had little in the way of talent or ability outside of their moments of inspiration. Well, that’s how it can seem.
The reality is that those works of art had an extra layer of excitement, enthusiasm, and passion applied to them because of how inspired the artist felt in the moment. That inspiration took a perfectly good piece of art and turned it into something truly exceptional.
Before we get into how to inspire ourselves, we need to talk about what inspiration really is.
Inspiration is the trigger for an emotional event. Contrary to popular belief, inspiration is not always positive. In fact, some of the greatest works of art have been inspired by pain and hardship.
There is an element of beauty to any painful experience. It is hard to articulate exactly why that is so. Pain is one of the greatest drivers of personal transformation and as human beings, we greatly value those transformations. We tend to describe it as growth or evolution.
Even the most joyous aspects of human life involve an element of pain. If you think about love, the single most sought after state of being humanity knows of, there is a painful side to it. We often describe love as a sacrifice; any and all sacrifice is painful.
Some of the greatest and most moving stories, poems, songs, works of art, have been created as an expression of a person's pain. Pain is required to even recognise the joy. We cannot live without it.
Inspiration isn’t all pain though, the moments of true love and joy inspire us just as much, it’s just that the painful moments tend to have the greatest and most long-lasting impact on us as individuals.
There is great power to be found in emotional extremes. Either great pain or overwhelming joy, the result is the same; inspiration pushing you towards action.
It is a common misconception that there is such a thing as a creative person. Everyone is creative, it is part of who we are as human beings. The only real difference is that those who get labelled as creatives tend to actively and regularly utilise those skills. We recognise those almost instinctive skills and practice them, that's it.
Creativity, when it surfaces, is just an expression of how an individual is feeling. Not on a simplistic, “I’m happy” or “I’m sad” kind of level, on a much deeper and more detailed, yet abstract level. Something that transcends the capacity of words to accurately describe and articulate. That’s why we have art in its limitless form.
For as long as there have been human beings, there has been artistic expression. We can look back on our history and feel how our ancestors were feeling, just like future generations will be able to do with us.
Artistic expression comes in many forms but as a writer your preferred expression is stories. The same is true if you are a poet, a musician, a painter, and so on. Our feelings tell a story so our art follows suit. If you feel something (which you do, the only way not to is if you are dead), you have an artist within.
Creativity is a skilful expression of human emotion therefore, everyone is creative; not everyone recognises and practices it.
As I have already mentioned, inspiration is just an emotional trigger. It can be studied and replicated. Inspiration starts with something that grabs your attention and speaks to your imagination, then follows a moment of clarity where new connections are made, and finally motivation to action.
I know many will say that it has to be spontaneous but in my experience, that is not quite true. I have found that there are common themes to moments of inspiration. Specifically, common themes to the things that seem to be able to speak directly to your imagination. These things can be identified and replicated.
Inspiration sparks an emotional response in you, that emotional response is usually quite intense and can even be overwhelming. The emotional journey you go on takes you back to a specific memory or experience, which in turn feeds into the already intense emotions involved in the process of inspiration. It all happens so quickly that you are most likely unaware of the journey you have just been taken on.
If you can recreate that trigger it will help you to pinpoint exactly what that moment you went back to was. Understanding the journey will help when trying to recreate the trigger.
When you need to be inspired to be able to write it can present itself as a problem. It doesn’t have to, though, and the technique I am about to share with you will help massively. Using the sensory box technique will enable you to gain the inspiration you seek, in the moments that you need it most.
Think about the last time you felt inspired, what were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with? Why were you there? What could you see? What could you hear? What were you touching? What could you smell?
Whatever the answers to those questions are, you now have a place to start looking for what truly inspires you.
When that wave of inspiration hits you are taken on an emotional journey to a memory or experience that you have had, then you snap back to the here and now. When that happens close your eyes, take a deep breath, and really experience the moment. Don’t let it slip by you. Where, or rather when, does this experience take you back to? Actively think about it.
Now you need to think about everything that you emotionally associate with that particular memory or experience. What are those things? Sights, sounds, smells, and so on. Collect as many objects as you can that have those same properties and put them in a box.
That box I just mentioned, we (I) call that a sensory box.
When you are getting ready to start writing, take out your sensory box and start exploring the items in the box. While you do this you need to cast your mind back to that place you went when you went on your inspiration driven journey into your memories and experiences. Allow yourself to relive those moments while you touch, smell, hear, and so on.
The most important part of this is allowing yourself to let go, emotionally speaking. Let your feelings do the talking. Let yourself be swept away by the moment, that's where inspiration lives. The moment of clarity will pull you out when it is good and ready, followed by motivation to action.
Doing this can be an emotionally intense process so you must take proper care of yourself if you decide to do it regularly. With that being said, I find it quite liberating to embrace the wave of emotion that engulfs you when you explore the sensory box.
Having and exploring a sensory box gives you the tools that you need to trigger a specific emotional response. That emotional response is responsible for inspiration.
There is a video on the 5-Minute Focus YouTube channel in which I talk about sensory boxes and how they can help you as a writer, not only to get inspired but to create better art. In this particular video, I also share with you something that I have in one of my sensory boxes. It is deeply personal to me.
You can watch that right here:
Written By Mike on 18.05.2021