Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Inspiration: how does it work?

by Rick Blechta

Athena, Apollo and The Muses
The creative process is a mystery to me. I have experience with it in two art forms — music and writing — so you’d think it would have become clear to me long ago how this inspiration works and where it comes from.

I was working on a musical arrangement the other day. Basically, it’s what’s known in the music biz as a “lift”. What that means is you listen to a recording, figure out what’s being played by the musicians and “lift” them into your arrangement. It can be a very tedious process, believe me. As I was working, a musical twist floated into my head completely unbidden. I examined it, tried it out in the software I use to do these arrangements and listened to the results (it has a playback function). It wasn’t much, but it certainly added something to the arrangement.

Where did this idea come from? I have absolutely no idea. I wasn’t even thinking to myself, How can I make this arrangement better? I was simply copying down what the musicians were playing on the studio recording.

Inspiration is even more evident — in any art form — when you’re actually creating something from nothing. Inspiration is actually everything at that point. Otherwise you couldn’t get started on a particular project in the first place.

The Greeks came up with the idea of muses, goddesses who helped in the creation of arts and even science by providing divine inspiration. Based on my experience with the hidden mechanics of the creative process, I sort of not willing to disbelieve these goddesses exist.

It’s a thrilling experience when inspiration strikes. In writing it may be as simple and innocuous as a character walking into your story with something interesting or even critical to your plot, the addition of which makes your deathless prose even more deathless.

But inspiration can strike anywhere and with any person. I’m certain everyone reading this has been struck by an inspired thought. Some of us may even have had their life changed by it.

But as an artist, I sure wish I could understand how it works and how to access it when I need it.

Perhaps I should invoke the aid of those Greek muses.

3 comments:

Anne said...

Great post! I tend to use music and/or writing to get my creative juices flowing with my visual art. It definitely helps, but then we all know inspiration strikes when we least expect it. Patience helps too.
Thanks for the article.

Eileen Goudge said...

I get my best ideas when I’m baking. Forty blackbirds in a pie...

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