I used to think that I had to wait for the creative inspiration to write something. I wanted to be one of those who had a brilliant flash of insight that was so soul-stirring that she had to write it. When I was growing up, I read the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling was (and still is) my idol. I remember reading an article that said that she first got the idea of Harry Potter in a flash while on a train from Manchester to London. I’m pretty sure that’s where my romantic notion of being inspired to write came from. I never considered the hundreds of thousands of words Rowling must’ve written before Harry Potter happened.
My current belief is that creative inspiration is nurtured. You don’t wait for the muse. You meet it halfway. You make a pact with it. You say that you will put in the effort to write regularly – whatever the frequency may be – and keep your word. You trust that the muse – the inspiration, creativity, and material – will present itself. And it always does.
Ever since I decided to become a writer, I promised myself that I would write every day. Right now, I’m writing one blog post a day and will be keeping that up until the end of April. Come May, I plan to continue to write daily – but I plan to dedicate three days of the week to writing blog posts and the rest of the days to work on other kinds of writing such as guest posts, lead magnets, books, etc. I also want to experiment with dedicating full days to writing to see the output and examine the results. I’m bound to glean some interesting insights.
It’s this consistency of writing every day that keeps my creative juices simmering. It actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; the more you write, the more you prove to yourself that inspiration doesn’t need to strike you every time and the easier it gets to just write. You can tap into that creative flow at any point in time. It’s like a river that’s always flowing. You gotta get yourself to the bank and drink from the flowing water. I like that metaphor also because it alludes to the inexhaustible nature of creativity and inspiration. It’s ever-present and always there for the taking. If you don’t believe me, tell yourself that you’ll write (or create anything you want to create such as a song or an app or whatever) every day for a month. Pick a time of the day. Tell yourself that you will do it no matter what and watch what happens. Somehow, you’ll find the necessary inspiration to do it.
My process (at the moment)
I’ve found that sunset hours work great for me. Something about watching the vast expanse of the sky change from golden to orange and pink puts me in the right zone for writing. Sure, some days are better and some days are worse, but having a specific time every day to write makes all the difference. Usually, I get ideas just minutes before 5 pm. I don’t worry too much about what I’m going to write about; as soon as I get a topic, I grab and run with it. Ideas are everywhere. Today, for eg., someone asked about creative inspiration in an online private community that I’m a part of. I shared my process there which got me thinking that it might be a good idea to share it publicly on my blog too, as I suspect it will be useful to a broader audience.
I write from 5-7 pm sitting on the porch, watching the glorious sunset play out in front of my eyes. In addition to that, I tend to listen to the same type of music on YouTube in the background. Usually, it’s mellow instrumental music with nature sounds from one or two channels that I like a lot. The time, place, and environment trigger creativity in me. This is my creativity ritual. My muse does indeed show up when I keep up my end of the bargain. The specificity of it ensures consistency. Have you noticed that about all habits? It’s easier to enforce habits when you make them specific. This applies to something as broad and intangible as creative inspiration too.
So when you think about weaving creative inspiration in your own life, think about the specific ways you’ll invite it in. A friend told me recently that the smell of coffee first thing in the morning helps him ‘get into the creative space’. What’s it for you? Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Listening to a song that inspires creativity in you that you can play on loop
- Allocating a specific part of the house just for writing
- Choosing a specific time of day for the activity such as first thing in the morning, sunset hours, or before going to bed at night.
- Lighting your favourite incense stick
- Meditating for 15 minutes before you begin writing
- Visiting a particular cafe just for creative activities
- Reading inspirational material to get ‘into the zone’ before you begin the activity
- Doing some mundane activities such as doing the dishes that let your mind churn ideas before you sit down to do your creative work
- Going on a long walk
These are just to get you started; make your own list of creativity triggers. Once you’ve created the list, make a creativity ritual with a combination of the ideas. The more specific the ritual, the more effective it will be. For eg., in my case, I combine a specific time of day + place + music. At the moment, given the lock-down across cities in the world owing to Covid-19, a bunch of us get together online to work together. It’s a sort of a virtual cafe. That adds to my ‘environment’ for writing as well. All of these combined put me in the flow state that’s just right for being creatively inspired.
Don’t wait to be creatively inspired. Invite it in through consistency. Create your creativity ritual and watch inspiration flow when you want it to.