How to manage your inspiration
Isn't inspiration something that "comes out of the blue"? How can it be managed then? True inspiration, the "lightbulb-moment" can't be manufactured. But it is the result of the things you've done and thought up to that moment, so you can certainly do things to manage your inspiration and to quicken the flow of ideas. But let's first assess that there are two kinds of inspiration. The first kind is the inspiration you use for your day to day work as a creative professional: the ideas you need for the current project. The second kind of inspiration is the reason you chose your line of work in the first place. The "everyday-kind" of inspiration is a challenge in itself and will be covered in other posts (like this one), but for now let's concentrate on the second kind:
In the hustle-and-bustle of daily life, sometimes even working in your chosen field can wear you down, making you wonder why you wanted to be a composer, director, artist, etc. in the first place. Due to this, your productivity can go down significantly. It's no longer any fun. How did this happen? It may be a genuine shift of interest - you might really want to do something different altogether, but usually it is not that dramatic. This is were you need to manage your inspiration. You need to work on getting back on track. To achieve this, it is necessary to take some time off your work. Pick some time to do something that's enjoyable and that doesn't have anything to do with your work. The key is to choose something that engages your mind, so you don't end up thinking about your work. Enjoy yourself! You do not need to go on a vacation for this; any activity will do, as long as it refreshes you and keeps your mind off the work.
Now that you're feeling refreshed, it is time to do some reflecting: think about the glorious results you saw in your mind's eye before you started out on that journey that is now your profession. Get back to your original heroes that inspired you. Maybe read an (auto-)biography; or watch those films again; whatever works for you. The important point in this stage is to get back into the flow. Don't be a critic; don't think about your current projects; just revisit your original dreams in all their exciting details. Have fun! That's the aim of this part of the process. And if you do this effectively, you'll soon be fully motivated to get back to work!
Not yet! If you return to your everyday work here, you might miss out on the best opportunities! Let's take some more advantage of this state of flow you're in (we're managing, remember):
- Since you've just revisited your original dreams, check how far along the road you are: you might have advanced more than you think already! And remember: don't be a critic, look for the positive acomplishments.
- Next, review which projects and clients helped you most along the way. Are there any unexpected opportunities there?
- What unexpected surprises did you encounter in the past? Any chance encounters that you can capitalize on? Are there any new suggestions along this line?
So as a final step: adapt your plan!
(You did have a plan, didn't you...?) Don't just stick to your old plan. That one was made on your old assumptions, on your old knowledge. Incorporate the things you learned along the way and expand. If you did the above "exercise" effectively, you will already have a number of new impulses to include in your plan. Once again: don't be a critic, be a creator! Include what you've learned during your work. Include what you've learned in your revisited dreams. Management is about finding, evaluating and implementing new ideas. You can do the same with your inspiration.
One last "warning": reading this you might think you'll need an extended period of time to perform all this, but that's not really necessary, especially if you do this on a regular basis. An afternoon, an evening might be all that is needed. The point is to recharge your energy and motivation and to get you a step further along the road. Enjoy!
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