Inspiration isn’t writing, it isn’t creativity, and it isn’t an excuse or a requirement for most anything, but it is undoubtably nice to have. It is something that can help drive and motivate you into being more productive, it’s so effective at boosting creativity that we might as well conflate the two, and supposedly it can make you feel happier and more satisfied in your life just by having it. It’s pretty excellent.
The problem with inspiration is a certain quality that it has called Evocation. Apparently. Which means that it arises spontaneously and emerges from the formless chaos within the depths of our less structured mental processes. It comes to you, you don’t go to it. Trying to control inspiration and trying to force yourself or pressure yourself into being creative has a negative correlation with creating inspiration. This is a game you fail automatically when you start trying too hard.
Another quality of inspiration is that it can cause Approach Motivation, which is the part where you get work done instead of procrastinating. This is problematic because if you’re sitting around waiting for inspiration it means you’re an addict who doesn’t know how to get by without it you procrastinator you.
And lastly inspiration also has the quality of Transcendence. Which is a pretentious way of saying it outs you into that focused, high clarity, single mindedly obsessed mindset that makes doing creative stuff almost hard NOT to to instead of effort and helps you get the whole work out all at once with a lot less desire for backspacing. It just all comes at once, the whole thing.
So the question is, how do we make it easier for inspiration to appear?
You can be inspired by something, not wanting to respond to it in any particular way except experiencing it, and you can be inspired to DO something, which might be more rewarding. Real inspiration involves both of those things together. Inspiration occurs more frequently for a certain kind of personality trait. Open-mindedness. The more close minded a person you are the harder you’ll have to work (to make your brain stop working so much) in order to make inspiration come to you. Do not try to be controlling. Conscientiousness is bad for creativity, which means you need to be able to relax yourself to avoid worrying about the details. Noticing them is fine if your not worrying over them. It’s about mindset. You’re not trying to be neurotic here. If someone tells you that cloud looks like a bunny, it is now your job to figure out how that cloud looks like a bunny, absorb strange perspectives instead of rejecting them.
Correct your motivations. Intrinsic motivations are good for inspirations and extrinsic motivations are bad. This is probably obvious but this means that someone who is starving and is trying to art for money or because they are being pressured to is less likely to get inspired than a four year old who likes pasta shaped mountain lions. Try to be motivated to do the thing for no other reason than you inherently want to do the thing. You probably already have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for doing something, but just reminding yourself that the intrinsic motivations are more important is a great help. Removes the pressures that say you have to do it. Don’t think about bad reviews and comments, don’t think about money and ambitions, just think about the thing you are doing and how you want to do it.
The precursors to inspiration are often optimism and self-esteem. You’ll notice in movies the sad hero guy always gets a smile on his face at the same time a light bulb explodes above his head. Excitement is good for inspiration. Get hyped. Appreciate the little things in life, think about what you have to be grateful for. Look at motivational cat posters. Be free to do silly things for no reason. It’s important to be in the right headspace.
Another thing that might not surprise you is that inspiration is correlated with work mastery. This means people who have skills can get inspired more easily. This is why doing nothing while waiting for inspiration is so foolhardy, you could be practicing stuff in that time to help your odds, and that’s besides the fact that inspiration isn’t really a replacement for skills. You can also get inspired by performing related tasks to the thing you’re getting inspired to do, so it only needs to be a vaguely related skillset for it to help you get inspired. I notice this when a lot of the better long term writers seem to have a tendency for writing random interludes that are slightly less relevant to the story than the main story. Doing other things than the thing you should be doing can be a source of inspiration, or at least enough of a distraction to get you out of a bad headspace that’s causing you problems. It’s the perspective thing all over again. We all need a peak at the big picture every once in a while, and sometimes the big picture is hiding in your dishwasher soap or the weird pattern on a friend’s shirt.
In conclusion. Clear your mind of material attachments and look at random stuff in the world while thinking about how much you liked the third book of Avatar: the Last Airbender and writing out random short snippets of your characters throwing weird jokes at each other. If you’re struggling you’re trying too hard. You must flow with the river instead of fighting against it.