When inspiration conjures something clearly enough, I need to stop whatever I may be doing and translate that emerging idea into some kind of visual language or form. Sometimes it comes as a mark or markings, sometimes a stream of sentences or words, that need to be written down or recorded and hopefully made sense of later. I have for years walked around with a note book and pen so as to not miss those moments and to take the pressure off needing to remember them.
Unlike doing exercises of observation or practicing technical skills which you can be scheduled to make happen, it is impossible to predict when inspiration will grab me. I cannot afford to get hung up on whether or not it makes sense or I would never get anything done. How often and for how long these ideas appear also does not matter. If I trust that there it is all part of the bigger picture, and if I am aware and prepared for the moments inspiration does come, then I do not miss those opportunities. I have also learned to give no importance to the immediate judgement and self-criticism that will often ensue the minute I have created the mark that best represented that idea. The experience is that of having something nonsensical nagging my mind and then suddenly having a moment of clarity. It is rather like when you try to remember the name of a song or person, and are distracted until you finally do. Only then can you relax and move on. However, in this case you are trying to recognise and make sense of something that you have not yet seen, but that you know is there. Sound abstract?! It is, but there is a logic to the nonsensical which is deciphered through observation, practice, patience and not taking oneself too seriously.
I am always intrigued by what it is that actually provokes these ideas to surface with the clarity that they do when they do. I know from experience that I cannot force them, cannot try to control them or set myself a schedule where I demand ideas at any certain time. It seems that inspiration simply will not be harnessed, and yet not having some kind of a structure and routine to my day deadens inspiration entirely. In order to be creative, I need to do what I want to and when I want to whilst also having a framework to work within. What that creative framework is made of and how it is structured is very individual. I know some artists who must clean, cook, go for a run, never start before midnight or set their alarm before daylight in order to tap into their creativity. Some will not be able to sleep until the idea emerges, and only then is some form of rest restored. It took me a while to recognise that broken sleep can sometimes simply be a call to get into the studio. Rather than get frustrated at the lack of sleep and force the night to be a time of passivity, I have grown to accept and use the fact that it can also be a time when I need and want to not be asleep, sociable or “cosy”.
It is with amusement that I can today attest to how the unpredictability of inspiration has become predictable. Like an obstinate child or shy animal, it will appear when ready, not on command or when expected. It is with fondness that I can today observe just how untamed my creative spirit has remained through and through. Since writing my previous article and having pondered further on the subject of femininity, I recognise that the part of me where my inspiration and creativity comes from, is distinctly feminine. It needs attention, but also to be left alone. It needs care, but not to be smothered. It needs understanding but not analysis, and intimacy but to always keep an element of mystery. To catch another’s eye and yet cannot (will not) thrive from being too long in the spotlight. There is an almost obsessive commitment involved in taking that initial unclear idea to completion. There is a sensual “knowing” when a piece is complete, a peaceful sense of satiation, that I can now recognise as being the moment to leave what I have done alone.
As a woman, like with many things, you relax more as you get to know yourself better. What was so confusing and caused me to learn through much trial and error in the past, now happens as I want it to, largely because I know far better what I do and do not want. I can today quietly smile at the fact that inspiration often appears right in a moment when I have decided or committed to do something else – something that used to send me into a spin of guilty cancellations or frustrations when I was younger. I today recognise and am often amused by how my inspiration seems to come at the most inappropriate and unlikely times. I can literally be mid-sentence in a conversation with someone and need to write myself a note. Once you have overcome being uncomfortable with the possible rudeness of the gesture, it can simply be quite fun and interesting to notice with which people this occurs. It is with happiness that I can today welcome that familiar “stress” that comes as I need to find a spot to pull my car over, whip out my notebook and frantically start scribbling whilst the idea is still fresh in my mind. Over time, you learn to relax and trust that in those moments which seem uninspired, there are in fact a myriad of things constantly evolving. And, like with anything, some things need more time than others before they can or should come to fruition.