Creativity and Inspiration

Creativity is work, resourcefulness and the craft itself. Inspiration is the lightbulb, the mental stimulation that instigates a person to move a certain way.

Creativity and inspiration often go hand in hand with each other. However, what the majority of people don’t realize is one isn’t necessary for the other.

A person can be creative without that special push in the beginning of their process. And at the same time, an artist can be inspired and not do anything about it.

Creativity Without Inspiration

People often think that the measure of a man’s creative capabilities is directly proportional to his daily dose of inspiration. That’s not really the case. A creative person need not be inspired to start creating. Creativity is all about the production, the routine, the job or the overt act of making something out of nothing.

But how do people maintain their creativity without inspiration?

Most people don’t. Most people get tired of the process and treat their creative impulses as a burden they have to carry. Most of the time, when creators aren’t inspired, they give up. They’d leave their work on a corner to collect dust.

So can we conclude that great artists like Da Vinci are always inspired?

We can’t say for sure. Although Leonardo da Vinci lived in the era of the Renaissance — a time full of inspiration and ideas, we can not be certain that he, every time he picked up the brush, was inspired. It was even confirmed that most of his work didn’t see the light of day.

What then is the difference between great artists like Da Vinci and the modern day painter?

Resilience. Da Vinci was an expert of many things, but the one thing he mastered most was the concept of creativity as a form of discipline. To be creative is easy. To stay creative is the most difficult thing in the world.

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Think about it this way: falling in love with something is easy. It’s staying in love that’s hard. The hyped up infatuating promise of fun and excitement is what lures people in. But when it’s time to actually get some work done, most of us quit.

Being a creative person is glamorous from afar — and people wonder what it takes to be a great artist. But if we take away the glamour, the promise of self-satisfaction and the misconception people have about the process, you’re left with one thing: Work. That’s what it means to be creative. To continue painting until you finish it.

Discipline is the key to creativity. If you think that everything successful artists touch turns to gold, you’re wrong. For every successful piece of art, there are ten creations that don’t see the light of day.

Every creative person encounters a phase where they lose their sense of self-belief. No one is an exception. This phase usually happens when you just started to do what you do. This period where artists feel lost can last for a long time. Years even.

And the only way out of that phase is to remember why you started working in the first place. Remember that everybody is moving at their own pace. Remember what made you get out of bed in the morning. Remember what made you fall in love in the first place.

“Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” - Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J.

Inspiration Without Creativity

What’s the most important tool modern day creators have? It’s not their instruments, their brushes, their paint, or their color charts. It’s their phones.

Why? It all has to do with inspiration.

If we dissect inspiration to its core, we can find that its two main characteristics are being sudden, and fleeting. In other words, inspiration is an uncontrollable external stimulation.

It is sudden because most of us can not anticipate inspiration. It can not originate from our own thoughts. It is fleeting because we can’t control how long it lasts.

Inspiration, first and foremost, is nothing if we don’t capitalize on its mental stimulation. An idea does not transpire on its own. With that in mind, inspiration, being the elusive high all artists want, should be taken advantage of right away. If not, then it’s gone.

Again, inspiration is fleeting — and we can’t get it back.