Where do ideas come from?
I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just past halfway through. I love this book. A conversation about creativity and creating and living a creative life. There are parts of this book I wish I had written. I didn’t because they did not come to me. I am glad they came to Elizabeth, and glad she has shared them.
Elizabeth says let yourself live a creative life. She gives you permission, if you need it, on page 90. What she is really saying—you do not need anyone’s permission. Just create a life for yourself out of what you love.
How do you make a creative life?
You let inspiration and ideas in.
And where do ideas and inspiration come from?
Elizabeth’s ideas visit and stay if she is ready and available. Inspiration, looking for a partner who is ready to play. If she isn’t ready or available, inspiration moves on to someone else. So, not really her ideas. Rather, ideas and inspiration moving in the air around her, around all of us, all the time.
Natalie Goldberg says the same thing in a different way. Inspiration and capability as the water table below the surface of the earth. It’s always there and we tap into it through our effort and action.
Julia Cameron talks of dropping down the well when she is engaged in listening through writing. Moving below normal consciousness into the stream of ideas that live below the surface and flow through all of us. Alternatively, Julia describes inspiration and ideas as radio waves, always being broadcast on all frequencies.
This is where my ideas come from. Inspiration Radio. I can tune in any time. It is always broadcasting. 24/7, as my son describes it.
I love this. Ideas and inspiration are always available to all of us. Always flowing, always moving around and beneath us.
How do we connect with this flow?
Elizabeth’s words: ready and available.
Natalie’s words: effort and action.
Julia’s words: engaged in listening through writing.
Action. We connect through our action. I am writing and drawing, and my action is an invitation to inspiration to connect with me. I am open, ready, available, tapped in, listening. I am saying, come and play with me.
I am not waiting for inspiration to show up first, and then acting on it. I am acting first, and this opens a space for the ideas to come in.
There is something else going on as well.
When I am writing and drawing, I am fully present. I’m not in my mind, thinking over yesterday or planning tomorrow. I am right here, right now, with the words and lines and colours. With the feel of the pen and the pastel in my hand, and the sound they make as I move them across the paper. I am in my senses and my body, and in my heart too, because I am doing what I love.
I am sure that love is an equal part of this. I’d much rather spend time with someone who loves me, and I will bet that Ideas and Inspiration feel the same way.
There is another piece, before the action and the listening and the loving.
Give yourself big permission. Elizabeth says we don’t need anyone else’s permission to create. Absolutely totally true. We don’t. But most of us need to give ourselves permission.
Give ourselves big permission to play. To waste time and materials. To make ugly art and bad writing and sing out of tune. Give ourselves big permission to hear the crazy idea and the huge inspiration, and big permission to say this is mine and I know we can create this. And then do it.
Ideas and inspiration are always here for us. Learning how to connect with them, partner them, play together and create something from what looks like nothing–this is the magic. And we are all magicians. A creative life is ours for the making.
Say it out loud and with love.
I am a creator. I am a magician.
Inspiration is listening, and she knows an invitation when she hears one.
In this post, books full of inspiration and ideas (and don’t just read about creativity, do creativity—it’s actually a verb, not a noun.):
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic, Riverhead Books, 2015 http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones, Shambhala, 1986 and 2005, and Wild Mind, Bantam Books, 1990 http://nataliegoldberg.com/
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Tarcher/Putnam, 1992 and 2002, and Walking In This World, Tarcher/Putnam, 2002, and Finding Water, Tarcher/Putnam, 2006 http://juliacameronlive.com/