What is Creative Inspiration? A Guest Post from Unfold and Begin

While I am in the process of relocating from London to my home city of Malmo, Sweden, I have the privilege of hosting Jennifer from Unfold and Begin here on my blog. I’m delighted that Jennifer has given both my readers and I the time to discuss her thoughts on Creative Inspiration…

Creative inspiration.  So many go their whole lives waiting for it to show up.  We are sure that when it shows up, we’ll be able to write that bestseller, paint that masterpiece, solve world hunger.  But what are we doing in the meantime?  That perfect equation or perfect masterpiece doesn’t spring out of our minds in one perfect sitting.  What the heck is creative inspiration?

First, exactly what is inspiration?  According to Merriam-Webster, it is a divine influence or sacred communication.  Is that what we’re all waiting for?  A divine intervention?  Some outside influence that is going to tap us on the head and give us, in full, the best-selling book?  Instead, I prefer the dictionary.com definition “the process of being mentally stimulated to feel or to do something…”  This definition doesn’t require divine inspiration for it to happen.  But the question now becomes, how do we get “mentally stimulated?”  We get mentally stimulated by working.

Vincent Van Gogh understood this concept.  He also understood that we need to practice.  Over and over and over again.  For Van Gogh that meant painting the same thing over and over just to get it right. In one of his letters, he spoke of painting flowers for a year just to get used to color.  If you didn’t know, Van Gogh’s early paintings were drab and grey like the Dutch Masters of the time.  The Potato Eaters is an example of this earlier work and when most people think of Van Gogh, this is not the painting we think of.  Instead, we think of the swirling colors found in Starry Night or in Sunflowers.  Practice.  It took practice to get there.

But the Van Gogh quote that most inspires me is, “One becomes a painter by painting.”  Hence, one becomes a writer by writing.  Not by sitting around waiting for some divine inspiration.  It’s about sitting down and writing.  It’s the act of sitting down and putting pen to paper or fingers to a keypad.  By just starting with something, anything, we stir up the stuff inside of us, the things we know, the emotions you attach to it all.  And we write.

I’ve found that many writers have page goals.  Whether it’s two or three or more they’re not looking for all of the pages to be great.  They are just writing three pages in the hopes of finding one line that will move their work forward.

Just one line?

Yes.  One line is further than they would be if they wrote nothing at all.

It’s our writing practice, and I call it that because until it’s edited into a meaning story or article, it’s not fully formed.  So consider it practice in order to take the pressure off.  If we write badly, it’s ok.  It’s only practice.  Perhaps out of those pages of “practice” we’ll find a sentence or an idea that is worth following.  Or, perhaps not.  Then start again tomorrow and see where the writing leads.  The process of writing is the process of “…being mentally stimulated to feel or to do something.”

How about you, can you find your creative inspiration in the act of doing?  Can you find it by practicing the craft you love?


Jennifer Koshak is a pre-60 baby boomer. She chose the title Unfold and Begin as a way to remind us all that we need to open up and share ourselves, try new things and embrace life.  She writes mostly about creativity, trying new things, goal setting and vision boards.  She is willing to enjoy chocolate, practice some yoga, have some fun and explore new places and new things in her next 50 years. You can find her on her blog, Unfold and Begin, here.

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