Inspiration is everywhere.
This is true if we are willing to be observant and listen. Listen to the world around us. Listen to ourselves. I’ve been outlining a new story that is based on a snippet of conversation I overheard in a hospital waiting room two years ago. I have embellished it and changed most of the elements, but that first nugget of an interesting idea came from eavesdropping.
Right now, I’m finding inspiration in a handful of books that I’m reading as well. I’ve blogged about this before, but reading great writing inspires me to want to write more and write better. I’ve never really been someone who read multiple books at once, but I’m enjoying three different books right now. They are diverse stories and I’m being inspired by them all.
Julia Cameron writes of “Filing the Well”. She believes that writing morning pages, walking and going on artist dates helps to fill the creative well within us that allows us to access ideas and create. I think this is a wonderful way to actively engage in being inspired.
I’m hoping to go to a local music showcase next week and I know that will lead to inspiration as well.
Inspiration is everywhere. We just have to open our eyes and hearts.
I have had the song What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye in my head all day today. I recently say a playlist segment on Nightline with Smoky Robinson and he was talking about how when Marvin was recording this album, he told him that he wasn’t writing it, that God was. Smoky talked about how the music from this album is even more relevant today and I have to agree. Maybe Marvin was right. Maybe he was channeling something bigger than himself, something so universal that it would still be poignant all these years later.
Julia Cameron, who has written many wonderful books on creativity, speaks of being an open channel as an artist. Puccini felt that Madame Butterfly was dictated to him by God. Robert Jackson said of his music, “Once I realized it wasn’t ‘my music’, once I realized I was essentially a straw, I began to play very beautiful music – but it’s not ‘mine’ it’s God’s.”
Art opens the door to inspiration. Art open the door to the divine. The act of creating something is a spiritual act. Julia Cameron has a sign at her desk that reads, “Ok, Universe. You take care of the quality. I’ll take care of the quantity.” As she says, when she writes, she lets God or the Great Author work through her. She is a channel.
I have often had these channel experiences as a songwriter, but not in a really long time. For the first time in over a year – I was a channel again yesterday. It felt so good to be overcome by inspiration and know that I was being led to exact right words and the perfect phrase. The lyrics are universal and personal. I needed to express a piece of my soul, but didn’t know how. I was open to the images and words as they came through.
I have been wanting to break out of this block with my writing and I think focusing on being a channel will get my ego out of the way and let the divine step in. If it worked for Marvin Gaye and Julia Cameron, then it just might work for me too.
This is a photo of Virginia Woolf’s office. Virginia Woolf speaks in her essay/lecture A Room of One’s Own about the necessity for money and a room of your own as a woman and a writer. I have observed that many people agree with her.
I’ve been reading a book on writing by N. M. Kelby called The Constant Art of Being a Writer. She talks in the second chapter about setting up your practice as a writer and how setting up your office is so important. She also talks about the importance of writing in the same place at the same time every day. A writer should put in business hours just like any other profession.
There was a point in time when I agreed with this opinion wholeheartedly. Not anymore. Mind you, every writer is different and for some people a strict writing schedule and location is imperative to their success every day. But I berated myself for not sticking to this rigid schedule and inevitably didn’t work at all.
Julie Cameron is on the other side of the fence on this issue. She believes that setting too tight a rein on your creative life hinders that flow of ideas. She speaks of artists not tieing themselves to such rituals because she worries that they will only be able to work under those specific conditions. What do you do when life gets in the way.
Julia does talk about using a gentle schedule called a grid to map out time for your creative priorities. I have learned that as a writer, myself, I must have some more freedom in order to work well. For instance my grid shows twenty minutes a day of writing time, but I don’t say when that twenty minutes has to happen. Or even where those twenty minutes happen. Last week I wrote for ten minutes at school during my lunch and for ten minutes in the car while I waited to meet a friend for dinner. The important thing was that I wrote. If I had set up my practice to only write at my desk in my room, that day’s writing wouldn’t have happened.
I think Virginia Woolf was onto something about having a room of one’s own, but I’m not sure I believe that room has to be a physical location per say. Maybe it could be a state of mind – a committment to guarding your own time and making writing a priority. I’ve decided that that’s all I need to set up my practice.