How to Find Inspiration for Your Creative Work…
I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that whenever someone finishes a creative project and they’re being interviewed about it, that person always gets asked the cliche question of: where did you get your inspiration? And most times the creator doesn’t offer up too much of an answer. Or at least an answer than you can replicate. For example if I tell you that the inspiration for my first fiction book came from my childhood spent in Slovakia then it’s not something you can suddenly go and do, right? Which begs the question, how can you find inspiration for your creative work? Well, that’s exactly what this lesson tackles! And I pull references and inspiration from people such as Steven Pressfield, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and the book called YouTube Secrets. After watching, if there’s anything other techniques you use, please let me know. I’d love to read them. Thanks for tuning in.
SELECTED LINKS FROM EPISODE:
-YouTube Secrets Book: https://www.amazon.com/YouTube-Secrets-Ultimate-Following-Influencer-ebook/dp/B07GL48G7L
-Neil Gaiman Interview with Tim Ferriss: https://tim.blog/2019/03/28/neil-gaiman/
-How to Get Out of a Creative Rut Lesson: https://philsvitek.com/how-to-get-out-of-a-creative-rut/
-Master Mental Fortitude Non-Fiction Book: http://mastermentalfortitude.com
-Not Twice T-Shirt Campaign: http://nottwice.org
-A Very LA Birthday Short Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9SHJaepE0c
-Adorama Affiliate Link: https://www.adorama.com/?utm_source=rflaid914115
Available Platforms to Watch/Listen to Show:
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I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that whenever someone finishes a creative project and they’re being interviewed about it, that person always gets asked the cliche question of: where did you get your inspiration? And most times the creator doesn’t offer up too much of an answer. Or at least an answer that you can replicate. For example if I tell you that the inspiration for my first fiction book came from my childhood spent in Slovakia then it’s not something you can suddenly go and do, right? Which begs the question, how can you find inspiration for your creative work? Let’s find out, shall we?
First off, inspiration to me is like luck. You can’t create it. It comes when it comes. However, there’s a great quote I read from a book called YouTube Secrets that goes, “The harder you work, the luckier you become.” I agree, as does Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art and many other creatives such as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and so on. Each of us has a unique way of stating the same thing though.
But what does it boil down to?
It means that in order for inspiration to hit you, you have to put in the work. Stephen King writes every day. No matter what. Some days he’s productive. Other days he’s not so productive. And many creatives who jump into an endeavor will begin in the latter camp. Even if you feel like you’ve been hit with inspiration and you’re working away for hours non stop, chances are it’s riddled with cliches because your inspiration is less like inspiration and more like a compulsion to mimic a piece of work that moved you. But if you set up a schedule and dedicate time each day towards your craft, you will be rewarded. In time, your mind will follow your actions and it’ll say “this is the time when I’m supposed to come up with stuff”. And it will. But like all things, it takes practice and training.
Too many artists starting off wrongly believe inspiration is the key to it all. It’s not. The “secret sauce”, a phrase I hate, by the way, is the work. That’s why the quote of “the harder you work, the luckier you become” is true.
You have to condition yourself to be inspired. You have to set up the parameters for inspiration to enter. As Steven Pressfield puts it, the muse that you’re waiting for is observing you to see if you’re putting in the effort. If the muse sees that you’re lazy, it won’t come to you.
Make no mistake, being a creative is hard work. Lifestyles of actors and YouTubers and such have been glamorized for the public’s eye, but there’s a lot of work that goes in that the public never sees. I know this firsthand.
So step number one to finding inspiration is create a routine. And yes, I used the word create to make it seem more fun, because it should be. It’s providing a structure for your passions!
Once you have a routine, stick to it and make rules. Like I said, Stephen King writes every day. No matter what. Neil Gaiman does too but in addition to that, he also has a rule that when he’s writing, he can either write or do nothing. That’s it. He can stare into space but he can’t check his phone. He can write but he can’t listen to music. I like this because it gives him permission to not have to be productive but at the same time, he’s forcing himself to always return to writing. Or as he puts it, “eventually the act of writing seems less boring that nothing.” That’s me paraphrasing by the way. For more on his writing process, listen to Neil Gaiman on The Tim Ferriss Show. I’ve put the link into the description so you can check it out.
So, step one — create a routine. Step two — set up rules within that routine.
Here’s where we get to the nebulous part of it, because inspiration can come from anywhere. But I find it’s always best to ask yourself what matters to you, as in the message you want to convey. Or better yet, what drew you to this creative pursuit. In this case, when I say creative pursuit, I mean the general act, not a specific project. So for me, the question would be, what drew me to write a book? In these questions lies the essence of your passion. It is the literal why of your creative pursuit and should be a guiding light henceforth for that project or longer if applicable.
For me, the fiction book I’m working on came from my desire to tell an honest story about Slovakia, a place most Americans have no idea about. That was the seed and a case of drawing inspiration from experience.
Maybe for you, you want to do something more abstracted from reality, like fantasy or futuristic sci-fi.
See, when you ask yourself these questions and inspiration latches onto you, it is your job from here on out to follow the thread. This is where the act of work comes in yet again. Continue asking further questions of yourself. What characters do you see? What are they doing? What do they stand for?
Many people equate creativity to self-exploration. And I find that to be correct. When you’re hit with creative thoughts, it allows you a window into yourself. You must explore that space. That’s what it means to find your inspiration. Inspiration is the nugget that spawns an entire adventure that you must unravel and at times solve. The more focus and time you put in, the more you will be rewarded.
Another key part to finding inspiration is taking in other people’s work, whether that be movies, books, paintings and so one. You cannot be creative if you aren’t inspired by others. The more works of art you see, the more empathy you’ll have, you’ll have a greater understanding of the craft and techniques. The benefits are immense. And also, just on a basic level, why create something if you don’t love other people’s rendition of a similar thing?
Is there anything else? Not really. I find too many people over complicate things. The process is simple: create a routine, make rules within that routine and then question and follow every creative thread. Lastly, consume other people’s work.
It’s simple, but no matter which way you slice it or dice it, it’s work. Work that you must do. But if you’re truly an artist, that should be fun. You’re learning about yourself and creative something unique for the world. What could be more fun than that?
That’s it for this lesson. But I’d love to hear from you if you have any other tips or methods to spark inspiration in your life. Write them in the comment section. That way I can learn and so can others. Also, please feel free to click over to any of the numerous lessons I’ve created just for you. I have so many you can check out along with other free resources. All you have to do is go to my website at philsvitek.com. And if you prefer to learn by reading, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be coming out with a book that not only teaches my principles but also provides exercises so you can put these ideas into action. Go to mastermentalfortitude.com for more info. Lastly, a huge thank you to the people that helped make this episode financially possible. If you too would like to support this show, you can either head on over to my Patreon or sport some merch from my store. Links are down below as well. Or you can just tell a friend about this show and we can build a great community of like-minded creatives. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to tune in. I’m @PhilSvitek on social media and I’ll see you next time.