The Secret of Creative Inspiration

franklin-drawing-electricity-from-sky3The sky is crackling with electricity and storm juice. Two people are a standing in a field. Above them, lightning is flickering, illuminating the landscape with intermittent flashes.One person is flying a kite, Franklin style. The other is sticking their arms up in the air. Both are hoping for the same thing: to be struck by lightning.

You can probably guess what happens: the person holding the kite will be struck by lightning, discover electricity, and get their picture on the hundred dollar bill.

The second person will stand around until their arms get tired, then think of something else to do, and go home. If they do get struck by lightning, it will be a freak accident on their way to the train.

This is no different than creative inspiration. When you’re out there in the field every day, when you’ve done your homework about what lightning tends to strike (long-haired guys flying kites with keys attached to them), chances are a hell of a lot better you’re going to get struck.

Your chances of getting struck are far better than if you occasionally show up for the storm, wait around a few minutes, then give up and go home to check your email.

People speak of being struck by new ideas and concepts as if being struck by lightning. “It just hit me,” they say. In the past, people attributed inspiration to the gods, the muses, or imbalances in the humors. Today, people talk about getting all their ideas in the shower. Maybe water nymphs live in the shower head.

Now, I’m no genius by any means, but after years of studying creativity and the drive to create, I’ve realized one thing. This one thing is so obvious and blatant, I slap my hand against my head and wonder why it took me so long to figure out.

When you want to get struck by creative inspiration, the formula is simple:

Creative inspiration = perspiration + preparation.

If you’ve worked consistently on a creative project, you know what I’m talking about. Something amazing starts to happen after a few weeks and months of consistent, near-daily effort. Your output soars.

You surprise yourself with the stuff you’ve created, the results seem like they came from outside yourself, as if someone put synthetic oil and octane booster in your mental engines. Everything just runs smoother and faster.

Consistent effort, butt work, showing up, hard work. It’s all the same to lightning bolts and shower head nymphs.

If you wait around for inspiration, you’re going to be waiting a long time. If you want to write stories but only sit down when you feel the urge, good luck. You’re in for a long night with your arms in the air.

Chance favors the prepared, but inspiration favors the diligent.

You probably won’t get struck unless you’re standing in the field.

Get out there with your kite.

There’s a storm coming.

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