Inspiration, much to many people’s chagrin, does not come “from out of the blue” at “odd moments.” It is not a lightning flash that appears in the dark of night. It is not the girl (or man) sleeping on the pillow next to you.
Here’s what I’ve figured out. Inspiration is the process of information exchange between your conscious and your subconscious minds. The information comes from your own experiences, beliefs, traditions, cultures, and anything else that makes you you.
According to Etymology Online, inspiration comes […] from Latin inspirare “blow into, breathe upon,” figuratively “inspire, excite, inflame,” from in- “in” (from PIE root en “in”) + spirare “to breathe” (see spirit (n.)).*
Breathing is life. So, inspiration comes from living your life. Something you see, hear, do, taste, or smell, triggers the thoughts the travel back and forth in your brain whether you realize it or not.
You may say that a butterfly perched on a dandelion inspired you to write a poem. Without realizing it, you searched through your experiences and memories for previous butterfly sightings. Maybe you caught butterflies when you were a child. Butterflies may represent something symbolic or beautiful in your life. Perhaps you saw a painting once of a monarch delicately lighting on a daisy in the early summer that stayed with you for personal reasons.
Have you had those moments when you lie in bed halfway between sleep and wakefulness and ideas surface from nowhere. They didn’t just surface from nowhere. This moment is when your conscious and subconscious are talking. These moments of rest allow your subconscious to take over and ideas arise from thoughts and ideas and memories that have been percolating in your brain for a day, a month, or for years.
Something in your life recognizes that “moment of inspiration” as special for you and something you want to act upon; for example, writing a poem, crafting a novel, painting a picture, or taking a photograph.
You hear about writers or artists in artistic depression (aka block) saying they lost their inspiration. I think what they actually mean is the motivation isn’t there. They need to quiet their minds, to do a little dreaming (daydreaming, meditating, walking, and writing in your journal), to find their way back to generating ideas. If you’re blocked, it’s time to dig into yourself: your mind, body, spirit. Contemplate your experiences and memories. Free write. Doodle. Do whatever it takes until the ideas come to you again. A saying exists that goes something like “creativity happens when you’re being creative.” Have you ever noticed that when you are working at some creative endeavor, the ideas flow more readily.
Inspiration comes from your life, your mind, your spirit, and from working hard. The more you work at your craft, the more ideas you’ll have. You need a notebook (digital or paper), where you can jot down your ideas when they occur. Don’t lose them! You may never find that extraordinary inspired thought again!