Sparks

I’ve worked in the arts for over 10 years now, having slowly made my way up from lowly barman through just about every job in theatre and on into film, television and web video.

I’m a writer and a creator – I love to tell stories of all kinds, to make videos people want to watch, to write posts people want to read.

I’ve also worked with a huge number of immensely talented people, from writers and directors to business people and facilitators.

If I’ve learned one thing through all the time I’ve spent with them, it’s that you can’t force inspiration. You can, however, give your muse fertile ground in which to assist your creative quest.

Here’s five ways to give yourself the best chance of inspiring yourself and others.

Be passionate

Passion drives everything creative people do. There is nothing so hollow as work created sans passion.

Try going back through my archives and note the times when I tried to make this blog more like someone else’s. I went through a period of trying to be a productivity guru, trying to be a zen master, trying to emulate Seth Godin, Leo Babauta and other bloggers I looked up to.

None of those posts reads authentically. None of them contains any passion. I was writing what I felt I ought to write in order to have a gazillion people reading my blog.

It was only when I realised that my passion (and ability) lay in helping others realise their second chance that I found the right level to pitch my posts. Communicating my theory that second chances aren’t just about coming back from near-death, but making a change and living the life you want became my entire focus.

Passion should drive all creative endeavours, but beyond that, it should also drive us all in our daily lives.

Find your right time

I’m terrible at keeping routines, but I generally start my day by sitting down and writing for an hour, whether it’s blog posts, sections of a book or proposals for projects I’m working on.

We are all struck by inspiration at different times. We all know the stories of people coming up with bestsellers in the shower or their next million-dollar business while walking the dog; that’s just their time.

The biggest lesson we can learn from any successful creatives is that we are all unique in our approach and patterns. If you do your most creative work after 9pm at night, that’s when you should sit down to do it.

If you’ve only ever created anything of consequence at 5am, set your alarm early in the morning, get up and start creating.

Be open to life

The aforementioned Leo Babauta wrote on his blog a short while ago about being open to life and the joys is can bring.

As a creator, I’d go one step further. Almost all of our art comes from our experiences in life. From paintings to books to films, the artists, authors and auteurs are universally influenced by what they have experienced.

Being open to new things, new people, new opportunities is one of the greatest ways to encourage and nurture inspiration that there is. Making our brains think and process new things drives the creative engine and encourages our muse into the warm, comforting environs of an active mind, willing her to grace us with her touch.

Never ignore the spark

If you’re inspired at any point in your day, take action on it.

Always, always, always carry some form of notebook, whether it’s a super-expensive, lush moleskine or a 27p Tesco value reporter’s notebook, Evernote or just an email to yourself, never be without something in which to capture the inspiration when it strikes.

I woke up this morning with a fantastic name for the new business I’m currently working on creating with my wife, but I didn’t have anything nearby to write it down on and by the time I’d got up, got dressed and headed downstairs to make my morning tea, I’d forgotten it entirely. I don’t have the slightest clue what it was.

If you’re struck by the spark of inspiration, write it down, sketch it out, capture it any way you can. Every wasted opportunity is an idea that may never return.

Be grateful

Our minds – and especially our creative brains – are wonderful, remarkable things.

As artists, creatives or innovative business people, we are bombarded by thoughts, ideas and actions each and every day.

For all of this, we should be grateful.

We should be grateful for the ability to think straight, to put our ideas onto paper (whether physical or digital) in some way or another. We should be grateful to have been inspired by whatever person or thing has done so.

Above all, we should remember those who don’t enjoy the freedom of mind that we do, those who can’t create in the way we can, in whatever way or medium we choose.

You can’t force inspiration, but you can encourage, nurture and take advantage of it when it comes.

Picture credit: PhotoGraham.

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