There are an infinite number of ways you can be creative and inspiration is all around you wherever you go.
So why does it sometimes feel like you have no decent ideas, no starting point, and absolutely nothing to work with for a new project?
It’s because you’re not looking with the best eyes. Or hearing with your best ears. Or tasting with our best mouth.
How memorably and intensely and fully we enjoy our lives depends entirely on how engaged with our surroundings we are, how much attention we give to the detail of each moment.
As I write this, if I listen closely, I hear the rhythmic tapping of the keyboard, and my clock tick tocking in a way that sometimes sounds like it’s talking.
I hear the traffic outside going by, and can guess the size and type of the vehicle by the sound and volume of the whoosh as it passes.
I hear the occasional creaking floorboard and doors and drawers opening and closing, and sometimes a cough in the apartment below.
I hear the low hum of the extractor fan in my bathroom.
I hear sometimes the beeping signal of the pedestrian crossing just along the road, and just after that the acceleration of vehicles as their engines swell. I hear now and then trains pulling in and leaving from the nearby station, and sometimes a horn.
I can just hear the almost imperceptibly low whirr of my laptop’s inner workings, and that static presence in my stereo’s speakers that lets me know they are on, but are not currently playing any music.
I hear birds chirping outside, and sometimes I think a cuckoo, and lastly I hear the gentle grumble of my tummy as it’s digesting breakfast.
Maybe if I wasn’t listening as closely I would only hear the two or three most prominent sounds. Maybe I wouldn’t hear anything at all, as none of them are particularly intrusive, and it’s fairly quiet here overall.
But this is the point.
That creativity is in the details at the edges, the beautiful frayed imperfect edges that are laden with inspiration for anyone who wants to draw from them.
There’s never any shortage of inspiration and stimulation around us if we stop to engage in it as fully as we can.
Be we have to stop, listen, look, absorb.
If you live life at a frenetic and panicked pace you never see or hear or feel any of these things.
It’s like standing at a railway station where the trains never stop, and you try to read the posters on the sides of the trains as they hurtle by.
The best you can hope to get it is the odd word here and there and a vague idea of the colours, as well as just the briefest glimpse of dozens of blurred anonymous faces.
That’s not the way to appreciate life, and it’s certainly not a way that’s conducive to helping you be more creative, and a better, happier artist.
I invite you try the simple listening exercise like I did, and see how much is going on around you all the time. Try the same in different places, and for different senses, just focusing on one at a time.
The more you increase your awareness and sensory appreciation, the more fuel you have to feed your creativity, and the more creative you’ll be.
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