Inspiration

I would especially like to recourt the Muse of poetry, who ran off with the mailman four years ago, and drops me only a scribbled postcard from time to time.” – John Updike

Do you wait for inspiration, or do you go after the muse? Some argue that inspiration can’t be coaxed – that it comes when it’s damn good and ready. If you’re a writer, software developer, designer, artist, or other professional whose work relies on your creative inspirations, waiting may not be an option. You can’t passively eye the beautiful muse sitting at the bar, waiting and hoping for her to approach you. You have to go to her, promise her greatness, and hope that she accepts your pitch – and maybe, just maybe, stays on for the long haul.

Woo the muse of the odd.” – Lafcadio Hearn, via Bruce Sterling

We all have our favorite methods to cajole inspiration – tips, hacks, and techniques that create a fertile ground for ideas. Some of mine include:

1 – Music. Something about music just makes the brain want to create. The style can sometimes even affect the final outcome. Do you need high energy, or calm and peaceful? Some music, like Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Creative Mind System, may even alter brainwaves to induce a creative state of mind. If nothing else, it establishes a mood, and sometimes a mood is all you need.

2 – Go for a walk. One of the most effective ways for me to woo the muse is to go for a stroll. I call it mediation in motion. Letting the mind wander while walking can really spark ideas, and it’s a great way to get some exercise and stretch after sitting at the computer all day.

3 – Watch TV. Now, this one may seem counterintuitive, but it works for me sometimes. Especially watching something completely unrelated to what I’m working on, like cooking shows. I’m fairly sure it works on the same principle of remembering something, when you stop trying to remember it – like a song or someone’s name. Taking the brain off the problem sometimes lets it do its thing in the background. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to watch a bunch of DVR’d episodes of MythBusters.

Are you one of the fortunate ones who have the muse as a constant companion, or like Updike, do you just a get scribbled postcard on occasion? When being creative is a key part of your life, and your livelihood, knowing how to persuade the fickle muse can be crucial. What are your strategies? How do you woo the muse?

Tony D. Clark writes, draws cartoons, designs software and websites, and spends a lot of time talking others into working from home, being creative, and doing what they love. His blog Success from the Nest focuses on helping parents who want to do meaningful work from home and have more time for their families. His weekly podcast The Creative Venture is designed to bridge the gap between creativity and practical business knowledge, helping creative people turn their talents into a thriving business.

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