This question popped into my head while I was browsing musician Josh Garrels‘ website. I downloaded one of his free MP3s (“Zion and Babylon”) and immediately wondered if I get enough creative sustenance in my life. I think my intake might be a little low.
Deficiency alert. (I think I’m B12 deficient, too, but that’s neither here nor there).
You know when you see or hear or experience something and it’s moving and immediately sparks something in you and it makes you want to create?
That’s the vitamin goodness I’m talking about.
Earlier today I read this piece on Storybleed.com. It really stayed with me, mostly because I could relate to it (“It is the hardest part: the waiting, the empty canvas . . . / the search for beauty in what is not beautiful, meaning in what feels meaningless. /There is no lonelier place than before a blank canvas.”)
But I mean, beside this one song that I downloaded and listened to and that piece I read, have I really taken in the work of another artist? Have I let myself share in their creativity and be inspired by something outside myself? Sure, a little, but is that enough? Should I be doing it more often, with more forms of art, with more conscious an effort to appreciate it?
My point is that, of course, passionate, fiery inspiration isn’t necessary to write on a daily basis, but we should be seeking out the work of others on a regular basis to find those sparks of passion that ignite out ability to do our work.
My MFA residencies used to do this for me. This is the first June in two years that I’m not going to be there, and it sucks.
I would go to Cambridge for a week in January and June, immerse myself in the writing life, talk about the craft and great books and great writers, listen to published writers read their work, and spend at least $50 at the Coop bookstore in Harvard Square on books I just had to have (I think that was part of the residency requirements. At least for me).
Then when the residency ended, I’d go home, my creative batteries fully charged for the semester. I would write and read and create and even if on certain days I didn’t feel particularly on fire with inspiration, I still had enough juice to at least put something on the page.
Now, I’m not so sure my creative batteries are as charged up as they should be and could be. I read blogs, I hang out on Twitter and Facebook, but rarely am I really intrigued and inspired around there.
I read books (3 at a time), but I think I need some more creativity vitamins in my diet. Like an amazing photograph (like the one above, which my husband took in Iraq and then sparked a story for me), a song that hits just the right chord, a book that makes my chest tighten, a simple sentence spoken by a stranger in line at the coffee shop, an art exhibit that’s at once crazy and full of depth, a craft project that sparks something more.
And I really should start taking a multivitamin. For real.
What suggestions do you have for getting more creative inspiration in one’s life?