By John Altamirano
There is a sweet and subtle dance we all do with creativity. It moves in waves through even the most ordinary things. Infinite possibilities are on display in the palm of our hands and can be altered dramatically with a casual swipe. Suddenly, we have seen enough. Time stands still and a flash of inspiration goes off in our minds shouting, “ I can do that!”
In the beginning, the budding artist captains a great big clipper ship of dreams, guided by the melodic whisper of promises assuring their success. The siren song of creativity calls us, so we wave goodbye to the shores of mediocrity to brave a sea of inspired shopping sprees. After all, greatness is not cheap. On our way, storms of fantastic visions show us the fame and fortune we are virtually guaranteed. But before we can reveal even a bit of our genius to the world our vessel slams into the rocks. Time to abandon ship on our deserted island. With nothing but time on our hands we meticulously carve out the perfect work space and…and – now what?
Seafaring metaphors aside, once we have chosen a medium and installed our creative space, we must face the blank canvas or page. With all the hard work we do just to keep the lights on, the additional time required to formulate and realize creative ideas can be hard to find. Most elusive in this process is inspiration. Sources are limitless, so we need to temper our expectations. Most of what we see in art and entertainment is made by hundreds of people on big budgets over a long time. These high profile works cannot provide realistic inspiration for someone trying to paint a portrait of their puppy or edit an article on gardening. So let’s explore the nature of inspiration and ways of harnessing it to jump start stalled creativity.
While I am still maturing as an artist and person I sometimes have trouble moving beyond revering inspiration as supernatural. I have found that inspiration is the sudden solution to a creative problem I have been working on for a long time. The trouble with inspiration, however, is its unreliability. After the thrill of imagining all the possibilities for creation, I learned to practice some adulting to progress. Routine and restraint have become my best allies. One very valuable routine I have is the keeping of a journal. An honest and unfiltered record of even my most desperate yearning for a creative spark has yielded satisfying results and showed me that sometimes I am my own best coach. I have learned to edit myself, seek focus, and stop comparing myself to established writers.
Our journey from concept to realization of any creative project can range in difficulty from effortless to agonizing. With patience and persistence, I have learned to cultivate a spirit of gratitude when it comes to the miracle of creation. I wish you the best as an artist. Keep believing in yourself, stay proactive and you will find your joy.