Left to its own devices, inspiration is a truant. It doesn’t abide any schedule but its own. It’s a flake. A wanderer. And unless you’re calling it out of sheer panic because you need it for survival, it kind of comes and goes at it pleases.
That’s why you need to treat inspiration like the fickle, head-in-the-clouds child that it is. There are certain strategies that keep inspiration from running off to hide in the sales racks of the creative department store so to speak. Here they are:
1. Attention. Inspiration requires a helicopter parent to be successful and that means keeping it close. How do you keep it close? By paying lots of structured attention to it. There’s no way around it. You need to engage inspiration. Ask it about itself, and then tell it what you expect from it. Inspiration is not a unique snowflake that gets to determine its own path. It is not an artist. It’s a surgeon. Or it will be once you’re done making all of its life decisions for it.
2. Discipline. Firm engaged discipline. You need to sit down and force it to do its homework, or force it to make you a macaroni picture frame if that’s what you want. Even if it gets lippy saying, “This is dumb, there are no good photos of you anyway.” You need to force it to do the things it’s bad at; it’s the only way it will get better. Inspiration has a lot of potential, but when it doesn’t want to work for you, you need to wait it out until it’s ready to work for you. Afterall, you are the adult in this relationship. In doing so, inspiration develops a routine. And structure is good for dreamers. It helps it focus.
3. Snacks. We’ve covered attention and discipline, but inspiration also needs to eat to live. Inspiration requires constant feeding in the forms of writing, arts, entertainment, music, movies, conversations, lectures, architecture, travel, and probably most of all–skydiving. Inspiration LOVES itself some skydiving. Skydiving is the Red Bull and Slim Jims of inspiration snacks.
Once you’ve given inspiration the attention, discipline, and snacks it requires, it will need less and less of these things to focus. And over time, it may even start to follow you around on its own. And you will grow to love it.