Making room for inspiration

I only write fiction and poetry when I feel inspired to do so. I’ve got a small trick for the blog which is to note down subjects when I’m inspired and then do the writing first thing of a morning. However, only writing when I’m inspired doesn’t mean sitting around waiting for inspiration to show up. I don’t have to be feeling like I’m on fire to redraft and edit, or to promote books so there are parts of the process I can do any time. I also do things to give inspiration the scope to happen.

A lot of our brain processes happen out of sight of the conscious bits of our minds. This is as well. I don’t want to have to micro-manage my internal organs in a conscious way. Aspects of how we absorb information are unconscious. Inspiration is often the putting together of bits and pieces from here and there and seeing how a new thing can be made. That little spark can then be fanned into flame by imaginative work – playing with the ideas, testing them, exploring, and then waiting again for more of the alluring pinging noises as new things come into being.

If I’m not feeling inspired, I need two things – input and space.

Input can be absolutely anything at all that nourishes me. It can be reading a novel, a non-fic book, a blog post. It can be music, film, or it can be live performance. It might be a conversation with an interesting person, a walk over the hills, an unexpected encounter with a fox. If I’m not feeling inspired, then I have to feed myself things that my brain can chew on and turn into something.

I may do some of that chewing in a conscious, deliberate way, but I won’t settle for what comes out of that process. Deliberately trying to come up with ideas results, for me, in ideas that are far less interesting than the ones I let come to me.

Waiting is an important part of the process for me, too. It’s the most unpredictable part. How much time I need varies a lot. I need time when my mind can wander a bit, when I’m not feeding it, and there is room for the magic thing to happen. I have found a number of activities really good for holding this stage. Walking, crafting and housework. Although not too much housework…

Inspiration is not just about making forms of art. It is an issue for all aspects of life, and anything you do can be enriched if you have the space to get inspiration and act on it. I think the absence of that space is a soul destroying thing and I’m conscious that many jobs leave very little room for personal innovation.

I took a week off between Christmas and New Year. I watched a lot of films, read books, pottered about and hung out with people. I did no deliberate planning, although I realised that I needed to do some deliberate planning. A few days after that patch of time off, I had a light bulb moment about where we are economically as a household, what options we have and what I need most. This is going to be a Hopeless Maine year in a serious and dedicated way.

How inspiration will work for anyone else, I can’t say. But, I think the principles of feeding it and giving it space to happen are likely key.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Making room for inspiration

  • Jen - Liminal Luminous

    YES!!! I call it composting – I need time between input and output, with lots of walk and space inbetween. Like you I jot down ideas as they come and deal with them late. I try to do my writing in the morning before there is anyone else around and I do the editing, posting, reading blogs etc later in the day.

    Input – I track my ‘well fillings’ of going to museums, art galleries etc to make sure I do at least one a month, otherwise it is easy to let it slip. I read vast amounts too.

    But OH I need so much time and space of walking, swimming (a great place to think) and just doing nothing in order for all this goodness to compost down and something to come out the other end.

    I do try to sit down and write each morning regardless of how I feel though.

    Poetry? That seems to need much more space than I am able to provide for it. I am not sure how to actually write poetry during ‘normal’ time (as opposed to holiday time)….. suggestions gratefully welcome!

    • Nimue Brown

      I love the use of composting as a term for this, because of the way it implies a definite and reliable process, that takes time.

      • Jen - Liminal Luminous

        Yes, and also it takes a variety of different materials, some of which are often defined as rubbish, into something fertile and of use. And the time it takes for the different components to break down varies – there is a vague recipe, but it is an organic process which can’t be completely explained. There is a certain element of magic to it!

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