A composer of fine music needs inspiration from the sounds he/she hears. A painter or a photographer need visual images that inspire them. Writers need experiences that are word worthy. Great cooks depend on their taste buds and the combination of flavors that please them to inspire the next great dish. A homemaker may want to redesign a room based on a place they have visited and found beautiful.
Where does inspiration come from? It may be different for each individual, but I think it’s safe to say that most inspiration comes from life experiences we have.
Sometimes visual artists run out of the ability to paint the next picture, film the next scene, or click the next photo. Musicians sometimes say they’ve hit a wall – a place where no new lyrics or melodies are springing forth. Writers call it writer’s block. They find themselves stuck in a place where they are not creating anything new in their field, or are not satisfied with what they do create. This period may last a short time, months, or even years. The power that reopens their avenues of creativity is inspiration.
How does a person find inspiration to motivate them in an old direction, a new direction, or to just keep them keeping on? There are many sources. God. Family. Friends. Nature. The world at large.
Inspiration can make us feel passion, joy, purpose, love, strength, courage or whatever we need to find in ourselves.
Being alone with God and opening my heart and my ears to Him often brings inspiration for a solution to a problem, a new idea, a new project, or a new direction. When I shut out the world and listen for that “still small voice” I often find exactly what I needed.
Going out into nature is another source of inspiration that works for me. Since we live our lives inside of four walls, going to the woods opens a whole new world. There are sights, sounds, smells, and a whole world that is different than what we live in most of the time. I love to find a spot in the woods or beside of a stream and absolutely listen to every little thing. If a person can’t go to the woods, sometimes looking at nature photographs in a magazine or on line will bring up memories of those times they’ve spent in nature. I love Planet Earth DVDs. I am always overwhelmed at the beauty, the simplicity, and the complexity of the world God created. I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly think that all of this “just happened” without a master’s design.
Sometimes it just takes spending time with a special person or friend to find our inspiration. I love the Bible verse that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so does a man sharpen the countenance of his friend.” A good friend can bring out the best in us, encourage us, and inspire us. Just knowing that a special person in this life believes in us is enough to keep us going.
As a writer, if I get stuck writing one thing, I may shift gears and work on something else for a while. Whatever direction a person is headed, if they hit a wall, there is no sense in banging their head against that same wall repeatedly. Sometimes walking away and doing something else for a while before coming back to the original task is a good thing.
In the classroom I often engaged my students in brainstorming. If we had a problem, they might figure out how to solve it better than the adults. If we had a goal, they might come up with more creative ideas to take us there. Brainstorming as an individual is also a useful tool. It means taking a problem, a thought, or a goal, and considering every possible way of getting to the desired end results.
My son and daughter-in-law are list people. They live their lives by lists. They put down on paper what they have to get done and do it. They put down on paper the things they need and the things they want to accomplish. It works for them. But I worry that they don’t leave enough room in their lives for inspiration. Everything is regimented. They get a lot done that way.
I do find times that making a list is inspirational. If a person is feeling truly discouraged, writing a list of things for which to be thankful, or making a list of all the good things in life, all the answered prayers, all the accomplishments they’ve had, etc. can be an inspiration for faith to believe that the future still holds good things, wonderful opportunities, and great surprises.
I find other people to be great sources of inspiration. This requires taking time to be with people and actually listening to what they have to say, hearing their stories, and letting those stories motivate us in our own life.
Keeping a journal is a good source of inspiration. Putting things into words helps us think more clearly. I have kept journals for years. Sometimes I drag one back out and read what I wrote. Remembering that time in my life, how I dealt with it, how it turned out, and that I am still pressing on inspires me not to give up now.
Reading good books can also be a source of inspiration. More and more, the Internet is a source of inspiration. There is no subject, interest, or concern that cannot be found somewhere on the Internet. There is an endless source of information to consider, reflect upon, and bring inspiration in new directions.
We all need to be inspired. Our lives are dull and flat without inspiration. They become routine, mundane, and even boring if we have no inspiration from day to day. I saw a post on Facebook by an author who sent out the question, “What inspires you?” I don’t know the response she got from that question, but I think it is a good thing for each of us to consider that question and allow ourselves to take more time celebrating the people, place, and things that inspire us.
Repeating that writer’s question, “What inspires you?”