Why inspiration needs effort

Jun 18, 2017 · Life

I am currently writing my master’s thesis and have been thinking a lot about creativity and inspiration lately. Sometimes, I look for inspiration in order to find new ways to improve the structure of my work or I’m looking for a creative spark to solve another kind of problem.

A few days ago while watching the Christoph Niemann episode of Abstract: Design as Art, I stumbled upon the following quote:

Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamed of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea’. And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere. Chuck Close

This quote stuck with me. Working on a project and not feeling creative or inspired is annoying and might lead to frustration or resentment. At worst, it can stop you from working on what actually needs to be done. Maybe the best solution is to accept the current state and keep working on what you need to do? Forcing a flash of insight, forcing serendipity.

Even if you do not feel creative at all, there still might be other work to do, which also leads to progress. Or how Henry Miller said it: ‘When you can’t create you can work‘. And this might be the place, where new inspiration comes from.

I think that a change in context (e.g. going for a walk or to the gym) is a valuable alternative to gather new insights and a fresh perspective. But sometimes just sticking to the work itself, even without feeling inspired at all, might be the best possible decision.