Inspiration isn’t always a lovely, fluffy thing. Sometimes inspiration is born of rage, frustration, annoyance and other ostensibly ‘negative’ emotions. I’ve written some really good blog posts off the back of being bloody annoyed with people. It’s important to acknowledge how these emotions can drive creativity and that they are just as important as feeling all magical and wanting to do something beautiful as a consequence.
When it comes to social justice, rage can be a really important source of inspiration. The trick is not to let the rage run unchallenged. Being cross doesn’t of itself get much done. Getting cross and thrashing about in an unconsidered rage somewhere on the internet can do far more harm than good. It’s important to take the time for the rage. Sit with it. Hold it close. Work out what needs changing. Take the energy of the rage and turn it into a push for change. Fighting against things is seldom that effective. Fighting for things is much more productive. Let your rage show you what it is that you need to fight for.
Boredom, frustration and apathy tend to get a bad press. If all you do is wallow about in those feelings, they can trap you in inaction and a sense of powerlessness. However, you can also use them as a spur. Breaking out of limitations is often difficult, but the need to escape from those stuck feelings can be a superb motivator for taking the plunge and doing something new.
If you’ve written poetry, you’ve probably at some point done the kind of agonised bleeding on the page that comes from depression and heartbreak. Misery and setbacks are awful to go through, but working out how to meaningfully share your pain can be a good and restorative process. You may be able to comfort others by showing them they are not alone in their struggles. You will undoubtedly become more able to feel compassion and empathy, which in turn points the way towards the kinds of actions you might take.
Oysters make pearls as a way of protecting themselves from the discomfort of grit that gets in their shells. Some people, and experiences can impact in much the same way. Creating can be a way of coping. It can be a way of processing shit into gold. It can also make it possible to deal more gently and kindly with people who were annoying you.
Suffering is not essential for creativity. But at the same time, our creations are richer, more thoughtful and better informed when we’re able to draw more widely on experience and aren’t focused exclusively on nice things and whatever makes us comfortable.