Here, when I say inspiration, I’m talking about the mythical, romantic notion of what inspiration is. In this mythical world, inspiration usually is random, coincidental, and unexpected. It seemingly comes from nowhere. When people decide to look for inspiration, their gaze is indiscriminate, taking in everything and nothing in particular, with no frame of reference, hoping something will jump out at them.
The problem with living in this world is that when inspiration is lacking, nothing is produced.
It’s nice to receive a jolt of inspiration, which does happen from time to time. But in order to be consistent, we must actively generate our own leads and let these become our inspiration. If we use prompts to help us–such as using music to paint by or visual art to spur a piece of writing—it’s ok to use them consciously, purposefully, and without shame.
Sometimes thoughts come to me spontaneously and I just have to sit down and write them out. But more often than not, I first have make a conscious decision to write and then have a clear objective in mind, such as a particular topic–love loss, being a woman, the nature of creativity, anger, joy.
Sometimes the form of writing is my starting point (a blog post, a story, a poem, etc). Very often, when I write poetry, the type of poem I write—such as haiku or free verse, or whether or not it will rhyme–influences the subject matter. Sometimes the subject matter influences the form.
I have also used writing prompts and have been surprised at how individualized the resulting poems have turned out to be. What I have learned is that regardless of the origin, I can’t help but bring something unique to my work that no one else could. Creativity comes from within, not from without.
The biggest inspiration we have is whoever we are as individuals. We don’t have to look far for that kind of inspiration because it never leaves us.