Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Make Inspiration Come to You

Where do you find inspiration?

Sometimes I stare blindly into space for hours and no good ideas turn up.

Other times, prose starts pouring out of my head as I'm walking out of the subway station and I find myself scrambling to jot down notes on my phone as I walk across the cross walk… (I didn’t actually do this, Mom. Just – well, I stopped myself before I walked into oncoming traffic)

Turns out, you can’t stunt creative thought any more than you can force it. It shows up when it wants, and stays as long as it feels like staying and not a moment more. (Inset comparison to crazy relative here.)

While you can’t command or control creativity, you can train yourself to be ready for it. Always keep a pen and piece of paper on you, or since it’s the 21st century, never go anywhere without your smart phone. Seriously though, were you even considering it?

Tune into the times of day when you are at your most creative. For me, it’s often the end of a very long day when I think I’m too tired to do anything and I climb into bed ready to read a book, but reach for a pad of paper instead. Or occasionally, it’s first thing in the morning when I am supposed to be thinking about something else (like what to wear or what to make for lunch) and I just have to jot down an idea first.

When inspiration hits, I find myself reciting full prose in my head. I internally start rolling ideas out like a ball of dough to later be flushed out and molded into something interesting. A moment or two in, I’ll realize I’m writing a full blog post in my head, and frantically look around for something to write with.

Once I start jotting down my thoughts, the rest of the essay/post/short narrative builds on itself and develops before my eyes. I haven’t planned where it will go. I didn’t even intend to write in that moment. But I go. 

It’s rare that I know exactly what I want to write before I start writing. The exception, of course, is when I have these inner bursts of genius and then seek out a medium to write them down.

I try to write whenever the moment hits me and I’m grateful for every burst of creativity that makes me feel like I’m contributing something novel and unique to society (or at least for you readers).

Unfortunately, these moments are unpredictable. This wouldn’t be a problem if I were careful to capture every single great idea, but alas, I have so many short bursts of genius thought (never modest thoughts) that I miss quite a few. Sometimes it just isn’t convenient to write them down – for example, when I have a brilliant thought while chatting with a friend, I often squash it back down so that I’ll seem attentive and interested in the friend’s "epic" story. In my effort to be polite and maintain societal conventions, I forget the great thought and it falls deep into the black hole of the back of my mind, to return in a dream some months later.

I won’t say I’m going to try to control my creative thoughts — that would be as impossible as trying to control my wild, unruly curly hair — but I am working on controlling myself in the most basic rule of writing. Practice.

My most recent writing practice has taken place off this blog. More specifically, I’ve been working with some fantastic people over at NoshOnIt, an online and subscription-based newsletter that finds and shares the best of the independent blogging world. Check out my “Hunter” page to see recipes and bloggers I’ve featured, as well as longer narratives I’ve written.

As of late, my work with NoshOnIt is one of several developments, though just one of the few I’m prepared to talk about now. In other news, I've also accepted a position with the Museum of Science working in fundraising and development, and will be starting there in June! And a two-week vacation is fast approaching, during which I’ll be spending some time with the wildlife of South Africa. 

2013 is shaping up to be a very interesting year!

The baking will continue as scheduled… Ha, I joke. No schedules, but I will keep baking. And eating. And sharing.

— Your relentless and eternally Young Idealistic Baker

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