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Thread: Inspiration

  1. #11
    ThatGirl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    “You can’t choose what inspires you.”

    This was something Adam Savage said in his latest talk at a Maker Faire. His talk was about inspiration, and mentioned some of the strange things that inspired him when he was younger (the movie Flashdance, imo, being the funniest one he mentioned).

    This got me thinking about times that I find it difficult to feel inspired by anything. And the mopey un-Halla-like IJ in me felt immediately vindicated (“Ha! It’s NOT a choice!”). But then I also know there’s a difference between choosing what inspires you and choosing to look for inspiration. It’s possible to be sitting right on top of endless source of it without realizing it, looking right at it and not recognizing it as such. What exactly is it that’s not working in a person when they are choosing to look for it, but can’t find it in anything? Is it circumstance/luck? I tend to believe it’s a learned skill- that someone has to build the capacity for spotting these things, like any muscle/skill, it gets stronger with the practice of using it. But again- where does that skill come from? That much does seem almost like circumstance/luck, whether or not we are fortunate enough to have someone in our lives effectively modeling this skill to learn from (and everyone is different, an effective model for one person is ineffective for another)- but that’s based on the assumption that the skill to find/recognize inspiration comes primarily from watching others, and a small part of me doesn’t believe that’s entirely true either. Or maybe I believe that’s how it happens most of the time- the skill is perceived in another person and it inspires the observer to follow suit- but is that always where it comes from? And is it mostly learned during childhood, or does it seem more like something that one must surround themselves with more in the present in order to feel it (because it does seem contagious to me)?

    From dictionary.com:



    What causes those sparks of inspiration? I mean the specific external things that incite the affect are different for everyone, but what exactly is going on internally that allows some people to feel/recognize those sparks more than others?
    An open pathway, but I kind of destroy those with my presence. But damn, it comes second nature to sit then charge. I am my worst enemy.

    Grrrrrrr.

  2. #12
    Member ahriman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReflecTcelfeR View Post
    This makes me think that's why adults tell children to not dream so big... I mean dream in smaller chunks to reach your goal. They're making the kid connect the dots instead of eating the apple (I do that too, btw).
    Most adults don't know two shits about parenting. Their dreams failed so they believe by telling their kids not to dream big they will help them avoid disappointment. My mother was like that. Fortunately I listened to my father.
    Knowledge is power. Sanity is for the weak.

  3. #13
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    I notice we seem to think about the same sorts of topics, Z Buck. I went through a very long period of feeling the urge to create, but not being inspired. It's a depressing condition, but depression itself is a type of inspiration. I've done many things, essentially inspired by pure boredom or as stress relief from poisonous situations. I didn't see it at the time as inspiration, though. I wanted that stuff that artists and novelists get, that aha moment, then you create something meaningful.

    Now I think of inspiration as a clear path between cognition and expression. There can be a lot of blocks in the way, but once you clear them inspiration is easy. Time and focus becomes the factor.

  4. #14
    ReflecTcelfeR
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahriman View Post
    Most adults don't know two shits about parenting. Their dreams failed so they believe by telling their kids not to dream big they will help them avoid disappointment. My mother was like that. Fortunately I listened to my father.
    I'd say it's realistic though... I mean it does depend on something as unpredictable as circumstance, but some dreams aren't reachable. This isn't so much about dreams, but inspiration.

    I used to, and still struggle with inspiring myself to do anything. I really have to see the point otherwise it just won't happen. I've been working on it for some time. Inspiration is SO fickle... I hate it.

  5. #15
    Writing... Tamske's Avatar
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    Nice question, and I have thought about something like it since someone asked me "where do you get your ideas?"
    Because before that question, I never asked myself where they came from. They were there. They were the easy part of writing - the hard one being forcing yourself to finish one thing instead of starting a hundred new ones.
    I also used to think (now I'm not so sure) that everyone has them, just most people ignore them because they are afraid of not fitting in. If you spend your free time trying to program a computer game instead of watching Beverly Hills Some Number (which was popular when I was in high school), you pay the price.

    I'm also good at learning. I was bored at school. You've got to do something during the lessons, and I exercised my imagination. I'm sure imagination gets stronger by exercising. And learning and imagination are closely related, at least to me. The more you know, the more you can use. I often get inspired, not by direct observation, but by learning some theory or fact. My most recent novel (now in a second rewriting stage) has started from MBTI. Yes, there is a character named Nonsense who's essentially a pure Ne. But it doesn't matter where the ideas come from, does it? Anybody who doesn't know about the origin, even if he knows about MBTI, wouldn't guess that MBTI was the first spark. Observation is a close second. It doesn't provide the first spark, but it's necessary for fleshing out.

    More recently, I've discovered how to steer my imagination a little bit. You can't force it, but you can steer it. So I've got hundreds of ideas, mostly huge, time-consuming projects if they would be carried out (a 80 000 word novel; a series of 12 paintings, and the like) - I don't have to search for these. They prop up whenever I... er... breathe? But of course, the basic idea needs to be added to. And if I let my imagination loose, it'll come up with more basic ideas instead of additions to the first one. My trick is: put into your head the thing you want to get ideas about. Then stop trying. Do something that doesn't require creativity at all. And console yourself: even if the ideas don't come, at least the boring work will be done. My success rate with this method amazes myself.

    As an example, my new novel.
    Basic idea: "in fiction, especially fantasy, thinking is bad and feeling is good. The hero has to find his love, listen to his heart, etc. Let's do it the other way around."
    Working out: "So I need a world where feeling is excessively important. A character who's happy to get into this world. He despises thinking, associating it with the boring and unfeeling Earth he comes from. And the damsel in distress is a great ESTJ who'll help the main once she's rescued from a villain who's decidedly not an NTJ."
    Then I'm able to write a summary. After that, I wrote the scenes. I've run out of inspiration quite often, but I always knew where I was headed. I had to solve things like "Our hero and sidekick come back from a failed quest. Now they'll have to decide to try their luck again and go in search for that artefact. Why would they think of that artefact now? Why didn't they think of it earlier? Why would the hero try again, after this failure? Why wouldn't he give up?"
    That is, in my opinion, much easier than: "Our hero and sidekick come back from a failed quest. What now?"
    I try to sound out (or even write down) what is needed to bridge the gap. Often, formulating the question will lead to an answer. Like in the example: "Or maybe the hero wants to give up, but the sidekick doesn't. And there's still that funeral of another character I've got to describe. What if the priest mentions something?"
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  6. #16
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NotOfTwo View Post
    Enough sleep or way not enough sleep. Exposure to others' creativity. Big sky and wind.
    I repped this previously, but noticing now that NotOfTwo has a relatively low post count (and therefore may not know about rep comments) it occurs to me that I should maybe acknowledge it in the thread. I liked this answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGirl View Post
    An open pathway, but I kind of destroy those with my presence. But damn, it comes second nature to sit then charge. I am my worst enemy.

    Grrrrrrr.
    Sounds provocatively e8.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qlippoth View Post
    I went through a very long period of feeling the urge to create, but not being inspired. It's a depressing condition, but depression itself is a type of inspiration. I've done many things, essentially inspired by pure boredom or as stress relief from poisonous situations. I didn't see it at the time as inspiration, though. I wanted that stuff that artists and novelists get, that aha moment, then you create something meaningful.
    Yeah, I think I know what you mean. Feeling the weight of its lack is a knowledge of *something* bigger going on. It’s a stark awareness of a blank canvas that wants to be filled. I’m reminded of a few of my favorite quotes.

    “Very few people do anything creative after the age of thirty-five. The reason is that very few people do anything creative before the age of thirty-five.”
    -Joel Hildebrand

    “It’s not what you are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts.”
    -Oscar Levant

    “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
    -Gene Fowler

    “A blank page is God’s way of showing you how hard it is to be God.”
    -Unknown (I’m agnostic, but I can still appreciate this one.)

    Quote Originally Posted by ReflecTcelfeR View Post
    I used to, and still struggle with inspiring myself to do anything. I really have to see the point otherwise it just won't happen. I've been working on it for some time. Inspiration is SO fickle... I hate it.
    Damn straight. Part of why this has been on my mind is that I’m having a hard time finding the motivation to get certain projects done. And I need to feel inspired about a thing or I have trouble acting on it. If I can’t envision a single worthwhile ending in its entirety beforehand, I have trouble getting started on preliminaries. Not sure if this is what ReflectcelfeR means. Could be my Trickster Te function. Dunno.

    It’s like the story about that artist (Michelangelo?) who stared at slabs of stone for long periods of time before sculpting and called it “working”- but it’s only really getting something done if a person can routinely bring it to fruition. And what drives me crazy sometimes is that inspiration hits when I don’t have the means to carry through- yet when I attain the means, the inspiration I’d had escapes me. It’s all good when inspiration hits AND I have the means to get started- because my focus on completing something is pretty fantastic- it’s when I have to drop it for something else for a while that I run into problems, then it’s hard to come back to. Fickle. It’s all a little too Waiting For Godot at times.
    Last edited by Z Buck McFate; 06-23-2011 at 10:17 PM.
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  7. #17
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    What’s interesting to me about Tamske’s post- and it’s something that Starry hit on too- is the way you two describe the process of feeling inspired really does seem a bit different. And the experience of living with my (now ex) ENP also backs this up. He’d get inspired easily by external things, yet the wherewithal to stick to it was a challenge. External things seem almost incidental to me- almost as if they only serve to remind of some internal meaning I’d like to tap into- they trigger some awareness of something bigger going on internally I feel compelled to define and express, but it’s rarely directly dependant on the specific external thing that triggered it. Sticking to it is rarely a challenge- in fact it’s a challenge, when I’m feeling inspired, to drop what it is I’m feeling inspired about to attend to other pressing external matters (e.g. I really, really hated stopping to eat or going to bed or anything like that while I was in the middle of writing a paper in school). Multi-tasking is my enemy when I’m in the middle of something I’m inspired about because, like I wrote above, I might lose sight of what I’m excited about if I have to stop and focus on anything else. I’m averse to shifting my focus off of what I get excited about.

    So it’s interesting to me that it sounds like your experience is that it seems like those sparks from the outside (or rather, that there’s a steady stream of it from the external and it’s a matter of training your internal to stick with it)- whereas I’m inclined to think it comes from inside (that there’s always already a steady internal stream waiting to pounce on the right piece of external stimuli)- and I think the truth is that it’s somewhere exactly in the middle. There’s a clue in there somewhere about how to be more open to inspiration (according to type!), but I’m not feeling inspired enough to try to articulate what I think it is just now. Lol.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  8. #18
    Writing... Tamske's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    What’s interesting to me about Tamske’s post- and it’s something that Starry hit on too- is the way you two describe the process of feeling inspired really does seem a bit different. And the experience of living with my (now ex) ENP also backs this up. He’d get inspired easily by external things, yet the wherewithal to stick to it was a challenge.
    Fully agree, especially the bolded. When I first understood the description of Ne, I immediately thought of trying it out - actively seeking inspiration in my environment, instead of staring to a blank screen and trying to come up with something. And it worked really well. Previously I thought inspiration would come and go randomly, now I know of some triggers. And triggering is necessary if you want to come up, not with just any idea, but specific ideas tailored to a problem.
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  9. #19
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarryKnights View Post
    Getting overly-exited about something and making ridiculous ‘leaps’ in your mind. Like, ‘OMG…this is the best apple I have ever had! That’s it. I am going to become an organic farmer!’ (but then becoming annoyed with how long things take to grow).
    This is so Ne + Fi!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tamske View Post
    As an example, my new novel.
    Basic idea: "in fiction, especially fantasy, thinking is bad and feeling is good. The hero has to find his love, listen to his heart, etc. Let's do it the other way around."
    Working out: "So I need a world where feeling is excessively important. A character who's happy to get into this world. He despises thinking, associating it with the boring and unfeeling Earth he comes from. And the damsel in distress is a great ESTJ who'll help the main once she's rescued from a villain who's decidedly not an NTJ."
    And this is so Ne + Ti!

    This is an interesting thread! I think Ne people get their inspiration from connecting and creating new ideas, but Ni people get it from seeing new meaning in things that already exist.

    As for myself, I seem to get inspired most by seeing 'meaningful emotions that offer insight into the human psyche', and also sometimes by the feeling that something is done imperfectly because its essence is not correctly understood and that I should do something to *fix* it
    4w5 sp/sx EII

  10. #20
    Writing... Tamske's Avatar
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    Thought a bit more about it. Apart from that abstract building, I also get very concrete scenes, dialogues and descriptions in my mind. A cute pink little dragon rescuing the hero, making him feel ridiculous. The castle of Ratio Mountain (where the evil Thinkers reside ). Mrs. Nonsense improvising a poem, complete with poem. I tried to *not* write them down until I got the summary ready. This worked very well.

    I think 21%'s description of Ni vs Ne inspiration hits the mark. Hm. Maybe, if I can get my Nemesis Ni into "seeing new meaning in things that already exist", it will stop "predicting a hundred disaster possibilities for the future"...
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