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!