Searching for inspiration

inspirationWhen I tell people I’m a writer most of them want to know where I get my inspiration from. It seems like such a silly thing to ask. But the thing is that oftentimes I can’t even give them a satisfactory answer, mostly because the best answer would go like this, “Everywhere.”

I don’t go out looking for inspiration. I don’t do this or that thing because I want to have something to write about. This may become a sort of reflex, when you live your life in order to transform it into art, but I don’t think we should purposefully search for ideas.

Every once in a while, you feel like taking a break. You want to stop writing and travel a bit. Or just have some fun. Or try something new; do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage or time or money.

Inspiration can be found anywhere. You don’t even need to be searching for it. Inspiration finds you, not the other way around. It’s not even about paying attention.

I believe that artists are easily influenced by their surrounding environments. They have a sort of… sixth sense, with which they can observe and oftentimes accurately describe what their eyes see, what their ears hear, what their noses smell. They see things not for what they are, but for what they’d hope them to be, for what they imagine them to be.

The add, change, remove, embellish, and generally alter real elements until they become fantastic.

Simply put, artists are the world’s best liars.

So it’s not about where or how or at what hour of the day (or night) to find inspiration, but more about what to do with it. If you’re brave enough, you can write about anything. Or try to write about everything. There are no boring subjects, just boring artists.

An artist sees the world, absorbs as much as he can, and then he just does his best to show the world what he saw. The vision, the originality, all that doesn’t depend so much on what enters his brain, but rather what comes out of it.

33 comments on “Searching for inspiration

  1. chaszak says:

    I like your claim that “artists are the world’s best liars.” Here’s an apposite quote from the literary theorist/musicologist Theodor Adorno: “Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.”

    • It’s a bit more complex than that. There’s a convention between the artist and everyone else… we all acknowledge to some extent that all art is a lie, but it is inspired by truth. Art describes a world that never existed, but it is inspired by the one we live in. Art is real life wearing a camouflage… it makes it safe for artists to say what they really want to say without worrying too much.

  2. This is one of m least favorite questions as well! My normal response is ‘…it just kinda happens…’

  3. ailsamacnab says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Very interesting and accurate!

  4. njmckay says:

    Completely agree!!! Most of my inspiration comes when i’m not looking for it. Usually when my mind is begged out, blank and therefore open to the whims of what life around me brings lol.

  5. artslawyer says:

    Well written and thought provoking too! Breath of fresh air! :)

  6. jeezusgut says:

    I always just say that I am very observant. While everyone else is talking, laughing, and getting lost in each other’s stories, I am noticing the interactions, relationships, and reactions on people’s faces. So maybe artists aren’t the best liars, so much as they have a knack for seeing the lies, unraveling them, and putting them back together in a different and interesting fashion. Weavers of deceit instead of silk makers, perhaps?

    • It becomes a reflex to be just an observer. I tend to put my life on hold to observe others, so absorb as much as I can, and use all that information for my stories. It’s also about empathy, I guess.

  7. vanyieck says:

    Your comment about taking a break resonates with me. I don’t think we’re wired to be completely focusing in one specific mode. We need to recharge the batteries occasionally. It’s at times when I’m not working on my writing that some of my best ideas form.

  8. barn7777 says:

    I agree with this post. As a writer, inspiration comes from everywhere and everything. As a writer, I write naturally–I can not force myself to write, if I’m not inspired. Great post!

  9. I love Dali! Very inspiring indeed!

  10. aedmonds315 says:

    Absolutely, You can take five artist to the same spot to watch a sunset or sunrise. Then ask them to write about it and get five totally different stories. Writers create..

    • Because we’re all different. No two people will ever describe the same place or event using the same words, because they see differently, they absorb and analyze the information in different manners. And countless factors come into play: age, education, culture, religion, other beliefs, and so on.

  11. Gwen Knight says:

    I usually stumble over that answer, end up shrugging and give examples.

  12. Grant Samms says:

    I think that inspiration is really just the name that we have given a call to action. If you rephrase the question to “What causes you to want to take action on something?” it is understandable why the question is so hard to answer. I think also this may help answer the question. For instance, I know that I feel called to action by a need to correct misinformation. So I guess I would say that my inspiration comes from misperceptions.

  13. I like to tell people that sometimes the words come wrapped in a fortune cookie (literally!) and sometimes they come in just a plain ole Oreo. Yeah, I find inspiration absolutely everywhere and nowhere. Thanks for the post!

  14. I used to think I could find inspiration by constantly searching . . . books, magazines, photography, classes, whatever. After college and it’s assignment based creativity pressures, I lightened up, stopped trying so hard and went about life’s daily business. What do ya know, inspiration began to just pop right up and smack me in the kisser, or wake me up at 3:00 in the morning. Still does . . . it’s just better now because I’m older, and able to drop everything to answer the call, before the line goes dead.

  15. An artist may get inspired from the wind… or the rain pouring down on a sunday morning… from a bird swinging on top of a tree :-)
    you fully right! Quite often it’s like a “sixth sense”, the inspiration is mostly inside youself, you don’t have to look for it ’cause she’s there!
    I like to get inspired by the classical music… I don’t have to search for it because the melodies are always in my head… sometimes is a oniric message or a daydream… and these two combined melt into a special story! I wish you a lovely tuesday-dream :-) claudine

  16. Abby Boid says:

    I am new to this writing lark. I have to say inspiration comes from reading. I was worried about this – I felt I might end up just plagarising the great ideas of others – but instead it is like a dance where we too and throw and ideas evolve and grow. This is very similar to the best type of philosophical enquiries, so perhaps that explains why this is my natural style for finding inspiration.

  17. swtcameron says:

    Very true, inspiration is all around us, we just need to take deep breaths of them

  18. Dina says:

    Totally true for me. My imagination goes wild, based on something I’ve observed or read.

  19. JudgeRoy says:

    My favourite folk singer called himself a topical folk singer and I feel like I am a topical writer, meaning we get our inspiration from events that happen in the world. My main focus is to critique the mainstream media and pop culture. Also, seeing how my theme of choice is science fiction it’s pretty easy to see where I get my inspirations from. I rather think of them as ideas. Sure, I get my inspiration from everywhere too. There are some things I just go out and do to research new concepts or get better at writing certain scenes, like social chit-chat.

  20. cari365 says:

    I agree that inspiration finds us and usually pops up when we are not looking for it. I think there are deep complexities to how we perceive/observe life which all play a role. I personally believe, we as humans comprehend far more of our reality than we realize and artists are particularly sensitive and attuned to their environment…and beyond. Great Post, thank you.

  21. flowerwords says:

    Yesyesyes, such a silly question! Reading this made me smile so big :-) Has anyone here read The Sandman series by Gaiman? In it is a story about Calliope, the muse of epic poetry (and mother of Orpheus). She is held captive by a writer. For me it’s much the other way around. I don’t presume to be responsible for a lot of the things I write. I put down the pen and can’t believe what came out of me. It’s as though I’m being held captive by some force and nothing else matters until I have gotten out what they want to say.

  22. adya00 says:

    I really like this, but ‘best liars’, nope! :P

  23. simon7banks says:

    To follow on from your ending:
    But also on being aware of its potential and not setting it aside.

  24. Preston Chou says:

    Solid post! But I’m curious to know more about what you mean by “artists are the world’s best liars”. I’ve always thought art is a way of taking the world the way you see it, contemplating the underlying reasons behind your perception, and then making something and presenting it to viewers as a new window into reality. Reality is so much more subjective than we think. Who is to say the reality reflected in art, an expression of reality, is less real than the viewer’s reality? Art helps us confront the nature of perception and arrive at our own. In doing so, we are inspired to think differently, and therefore be differently.

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