Writer’s block ends now. It never really existed in the first place. You gave it life and made it real. Stop doing that.
Just understand that creativity has its own rhythm and flow. Inspiration does not come at the push of a button or flip of a switch. If it did, anyone could write inspired prose. Even a machine could do it.
Sometimes the flow of words and ideas comes to a pause. Not only is that natural; it’s a good thing. Creative inspiration has always been about making the most of the moment. That includes the pauses. Instead of panicking, celebrate the pause. This is an opportunity to reflect, gain perspective, and maybe even take a bathroom break.
Under the right conditions, a pause in your writing can be empowering. You can turn your so-called writer’s block into a power pause in five simple steps:
The idea of the power pause is to break free of the past, savor the experience of the present, and make yourself receptive to whatever may come in the future. Once you do, ideas will begin to flow effortlessly. You will find that the quality of your writing improves after this type of break. Then instead of feeling blocked, you will come to appreciate the creative opportunities inherent in a momentary pause.
After 30 years, I have come to an important realization about creative inspiration: It does not have to be an occasional thing. Sure, inspiration often come in sudden flashes. That is why we tend to liken it to thunderstorms and lightning strikes--powerful forces of nature that can hardly be predicted, let alone harnessed.
As with any such force, inspiration evokes a sense of wonder. Three decades later, I am no less in awe of it than when I started. I will never give you the impression that being inspired is as easy as pushing a button or adding water to your instant oatmeal. It simply isn't. For me, discovering what inspires me and under what conditions has been a lifelong learning process. I have come to see inspiration as a combination of serendipity and self-discipline. Inspiration comes in its own time, but when it does arrive, you can make the most of it. Getting inspired is magical; staying inspired is a practice. As Bruce Lee said, "You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open."
So, how do you stay inspired? What does it take to live a life of inspiration? I have found that the experience of inspiration has three parts, each of which can be magnified through proper action:
1. Aliveness. This is pure sensation--pure awareness--in the absence of all thought. Whether you know it or not, you have experienced it. There have probably been times when you have gotten so immersed or absorbed in what you were doing or feeling that you "lost yourself" in the moment; all thoughts, concerns, and struggles simply disappeared. At such times, you may have felt fully alive, totally present. Here is the best way I know to describe that experience: "Here and now, Baby!"
2. Passion. Creative inspiration is driven by two of the most powerful forces in the universe: love and joy. Together, they give rise to bliss and ecstasy. To be inspired is to feel some combination of these four emotions--love, joy, bliss, and ecstasy--with such intense passion that it energizes you and enlivens your creation. You can also tell when a work of art is truly inspired because it oozes and radiates passion. Conversely, you can't help but feel when someone is going through the motions with no real emotional involvement. The end result just seems to fall flat; it lacks the capacity to engage us or touch our hearts.
3. Clarity. During bursts of inspiration, I often hear the words of this song in my head: "I Can See Clearly Now." It's as if entire panoramic vistas open up to me. I even have flashes when I feel I can access all of the wisdom in the universe. This might just be illusory, but there is no question that when you and I are feeling inspired, we can detect patterns, interconnections and distinctions that are not always discernible to us. This clarity is a function of our receptivity. How open can we make ourselves to fresh ways of experiencing and understanding the world? For a moment or two, we stop clinging to the old assumptions and labels. Then, all kinds of possibilities make themselves known to us.
To stay inspired, just do what it takes to promote aliveness, passion, and clarity in yourself. This means becoming a student of your body and mind, your sensations and emotions, and your strengths and weaknesses. I can tell you what works for me, and I will happily do so here. In fact, my past blogs are filled with such accounts. If I am an expert on anything, it is my own experience of inspiration. But what gets and keeps me inspired may not necessarily work for you. When you find something in Deep Creativity or on this blog, my suggestion is: Give it a try! If it works, that's great. If not, move on to the next activity or exercise. You will find plenty more in the days and weeks to come!
In this One-Minute Inspiration video, I explain how a single apple can lead to an experience of inspiration. The excerpt is taken from a talk I gave on Sunday, February 11, at Unity of Tucson as part of their "Coffee with the Author" lecture series. You can listen to the entire 43-minute presentation here:
As a society, we have a funny relationship with creative inspiration. On the one hand, we think of it as something desirable, especially if it helps us advance our careers or grow our bottom line. On the other hand, we are not so sure that it even exists.
Every few days, I come across a creativity article talking about the “myth of inspiration.” Often, the author cites this well-known Thomas Edison quote, “Genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” To me, this signals a lack of understanding of what it means to be inspired.
There is a reason for such ignorance. The scientists who study and write about creativity are not particularly interested in the experiential aspects of the creative process. I know this because I have devoted the past three decades to exploring the many facets of the creative experience, including intuition, imagination, and especially creative inspiration. For the scientific community, the notion of inspiration poses a threat because it lives and breathes beyond the limits of rationality.
To comprehend creative inspiration, I had to learn how to live in the experience. This is not easy, but the rewards are limitless. Artists who delve into the creative process on a daily basis know what I mean. For many of them, the experience of inspiration represents the central driving force in their lives. The Russian painter Ilya Repin captured this intense passion perfectly when he told an interviewer, “I love art more than virtue, more than people, more than family, more than friends, more than any happiness or joy in life. I love it secretly, jealously as an old drunkard—incurably.”
So, what exactly is creative inspiration? And why is it so compelling? The best answer I can give you is: Deep Creativity. There is a reason I have spent 30 years researching and writing this book. I want you to experience creative inspiration for yourself. And so I have come up with Ten Tenets that will lead you to the very heart of the creative experience.
In the most literal sense, to be inspired means to be filled with spirit. Artists throughout history have described a mysterious quality or force called the creative spirit. For some, it is just a metaphor—a poetic way to describe the impulse or motivation to create. But for others, it means much more. The source and essence of our creativity abides deep in our hearts. We can only discover it by journeying inward. To know creative inspiration, we have to be open to an adventure that takes us outside of ourselves and well beyond the realm of intellect.
You do not have to leave home or move to some exotic locale in order to undertake this adventure. But you will need to break free of assumptions, beliefs, expectations, judgment, conventionality, and—perhaps most importantly—your own self concept. The rewards for doing so are as rich and delightful as anything you can imagine. You gain access to a universe of possibilities, including the ideas and insights you are seeking. But even more, you get to live an inspired life, one moment at a time. This is the ultimate boon!
I want to hear from you! Please share your questions and comments. And sign up for my newsletter, where I will pass along the insights, ideas, and inspiration that come my way.