Inspiration & Creativity: A Blessing or a Curse?
I recently finished Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic. This is not a book review, I simply want to share how this book impacted me as a creative. First and foremost, I was slapped in the face with riveting thought and out of the box concepts that shook me to my core. (I'm not being dramatic, I really did "hmmm" and "oooh" a lot while reading this book). One concept in particular disturbed me: "If inspiration is allowed to unexpectedly enter you it is also allowed to unexpectedly exit you” (Gilbert, 2015, p.48). As I read that line I recall all the moments of inspiration that I didn't take advantage of because I was too busy or too lazy. All the times I did not make room for creativity. Consequently, losing the inspired thought or at least the fire that kept the momentum of that thought going. Only a few days ago, I was inspired to write about the affects of crippling indecision. This thought came in the midst of that very emotion, but I thought “ehh I’ll write about it later tonight.” Here’s what ended up in the notes of my iPhone that evening…
At this current moment I am on the brink of inspiration and simply trying too hard
Thought provoking ideas once filled my head
Just a few hours ago
Hence I’m writing this instead
I have nothing clever to say, nothing deep or profound
It’s really not okay, but I’m rolling with it anyhow
I grow weary of these moments
Creative thought, do you find it fun to tease me?
Seduce my depth then leave me
Brain in a fuzz and stomach uneasy
This is one of those moments where you had something really important to say and forgot
Feel my pain?
How I disdain these moments
Hellooooo inner poet?
I reserved this time for you
And it’s past midnight
Trying to bring back the inspiration from late afternoon
I should’ve dropped everything and accepted the invitation when you wanted me to
Now I’m forcing the creative juice
And the blame is not on you.
The struggle to flow in my thoughts from earlier that day lasted for a good while before I decided it just wasn't the right moment to write about them. In these frustrating predicaments when it feels like my ideas resemble a thin tangled chain, almost impossible to loosen the knots, I heavily consider picking up my laptop and watching a series on Netflix. Save creative expression for another time. Catching myself in this bad habit, I had to remind myself that I already made a commitment to creativity. So I decided to keep my word and remain present, regardless of if I felt the supernatural ebb and flow of creativity take over my right hand (or in this case, two thumbs). I let go of the stale inspiration and turned my frustration into art. Though not one of my most snap-worthy pieces. I had to renew my thinking. There is no defeat or failure when it comes to art. Only character building, adventure and growth.
In moments such as these, you have to make a decision to keep your vow to creativity OR let frustration take over, convinced that creativity is out to make you suffer. Don't continue on your journey with creativity resembling a hex much more than it resembles a blessing. Elizabeth Gilbert warns (or in my case 'reminds') the artist that everything he/she creates will not come easy. Sometimes we have to work for it. Find the beauty in creative discipline and be light-hearted about it. At times you won't put out your best work. Good job for at least having the courage to release it. Perhaps no one will read your blog post or retweet photos of your paintings. That’s okay. Those are the moments we remember that “in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience” (Gilbert, 2015, p.72). Creativity heals us and gets us through the tough moments no one else knows about. It allows us to vent, reflect and release. It saves the creator before it ever has the chance to encourage someone else.
Creativity is not a thing of mere gift or talent. Creativity takes true perseverance, dedication and partnership/flexibility with inspiration. It does not guarantee instant gratification and quite frankly, for some of us, it does not pay the bills. So whatever you do in the creative realm, make sure you love it enough to go through the up’s and down’s with it. Make sure you are unwavering in the notion that creativity, indeed, loves you back. Perception is completely up to you.