Thursday, June 20, 2013

Method to madness: finding inspiration

“How do I get inspired?”

This was actually a question I got asked the other day and to be honest, it kind of scared me. As a writer, lack of inspiration has to be frustrating, as a person it has to be borderline depressing. In essence, inspiration is quite possibly the best feeling in the world, especially since it can apply to anything you do. You can feel inspired to cook, clean, create, work, talk, chat, paint or help. It is the currency of desire and it’s up to us to spend it wisely and look for it anywhere we can.

So when I got asked that, it really made me think… what can inspire me?

Lucky for me, I’m actually pretty inspired and often look into different things to keep the muse fresh and flowing. I read, I write, I listen, I play, I try new things, I doodle and I daydream (a lot). I also work to the bone because although money can’t buy me love, it does happen to pay the bills and afford me the possibility to do other things. So to answer this question, I offer you two options, the five against one method and the stumble/spur method.

The five against one method is focusing on each of your senses and looking for alternatives to see how each one affects your inspiration.

·       Touch – Texture is vastly overlooked when it comes to inspiration and it’s one of the most powerful senses we neglect. The best way to explore this sense is with the assistance of someone. Arrange a series of materials and textures nearby and have them pass you the material so you can focus on how it feels while wearing a blindfold. I suggest a two person operation to ensure you deprive your sense of vision so all other senses are heightened. Have them pass you materials and then spend up to one minute with each material. Feel the contours, the shape, how it resists when you tug it or squeeze it. Really explore it and have your hands do the talking.

·       Taste – I LOVE tasting new dishes, new drinks, new candies. Does that mean I overlook my favorites or what would be deemed a classic? Of course not. The thing is that by broadening my horizons and exploring taste and texture, I gain a whole new appreciation for every new thing I taste. Some people stick to chicken and lasagna… although I enjoy both dishes, life is not the same flight every day and by varying what I eat, I vary the destinations I can traverse. When describing lumiere and nova in Only Human, I had AMPLE culinary experiences to know how they taste in my brain. Think of it this way, what did Butter Beer taste like in JK Rowling’s head? I’m pretty sure it’s pretty close to what they offer in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because at least for me, it was spot on and it brought a smile to my face to taste something I read. She could already taste it even though it didn't exist at the time. The same happened when I tried Turkish delight for the first time… and it didn’t take me a second attempt to understand why Edmund was enchanted by the White Queen.

·       Sight – by far the most abused sense is sight. It is also the one that receives the least variety. If you have a dayjob, you will probably end up looking at the same things over and over and over. Workbook sheets, texts, charts, powerpoint presentations and the such… if you don’t cleanse your palate, your sight might dull. What’s amazing about sight is that we also don’t care for it as we should. Most office lights do not project light in a full spectrum, this causes eye strain, visual fatigue and contributes to retinal decay. So it’s your job to look at fresh images to keep the brain functioning and active. On Facebook there are a ton of groups with interesting visuals to share which is a great starting point. Another thing you should do is check out nature. When was the last time you saw a leaf up close? We are surrounded by amazing achievements by nature and it’s there for you to appreciate if you only give it the chance.

·       Hearing – a lot of people say they don’t like X or Y genre of music, and I often think they’re doing themselves a disservice by not trying to find something within the genre that works for them, just to expose their senses to something new. So the first recommendation would be to listen to as much music as possible, including classical music. A lot of people say they don’t like classical music and I disagree… I just think they aren’t looking right because I’ve heard symphonic orchestras play the theme song to the Predator Movie and an Angry Birds suite and it’s fascinating how intense these pieces are. Not into classical music but a videogame freak? Then every year there are dozens of concerts that celebrate the achievements of videogames. Now that I got that out of the way… here’s another suggestions… take off your headphones. Listen to nature, listen to the bustle of people and see how many things you can pick up. Although it may not seem like it, we are immersed in melody and the thumping of machinery are the rhythm section. If you want to see to what level, listen to music by Stomp! or check out Koyaanisqatsi. 

·       Smell – As with all other senses, smell can be taken to another level by simply paying attention to it. Our bodies are amazing and we owe it to ourselves to explore each of our senses.

The second method I was referring to is the stumble / spur method. This one is actually a lot simpler. In a digital age where we have apps and the Internet readily accessible, it’s funny people don’t search for more information. Ask yourself what a nebula is, wonder what a base prime number is, search for Bruce Lee’s one inch punch, refresh information from grade school. Use apps like Stumble Upon, visit Mashable, click on I’m feeling lucky on and whenever a random question arises, either write it down or look for it in realtime.

And lastly, make sure you don’t have something else that’s keeping you uninspired. It’s also up to you to keep your mind, body and soul healthy (btw, you don’t need religion to nurture your soul, just saying).

Hope this helps and feel free to keep in touch here through twitter @jdestradwriter or through email @

Peace, love and maki rolls.

No comments:

Post a Comment