Inspiration is a tricky little thing, but if you want to start creating for a living—art or writing or anything else—you have to learn to keep it going no matter what. You can’t have a block if you have a paid deadline coming up. For me, finding out how to keep my inspiration going was a struggle, especially on top of my depression issues. But after a lot of missteps, and a lot of years, I’ve finally got a good system in place that keeps me going no matter what.
A big part of making sure I’m always inspired is to make sure I’ve always got something to work on. I always have at least a handful of projects I’m going, so that if I’m feeling stuck on one I can pick up another. Maybe today I’m not feeling like painting Shae, so I’ll work on a painting of Dustin instead. Maybe I’m not feeling like painting at all, so I’ll write something instead. As long as I’m always working on something that’s what matters, because it keeps me from entering the depressive failure spiral I get into when I don’t feel like I’m getting anything done.
Secondly, I made myself get better at writing things down. Despite what I have tried to convince myself of over the years, my memory is not perfect and I will forget things. I now have a notebook that I write all my ideas down in, no matter how small and no matter what they’re related to. Being able to flip it open and pull out ideas whenever I need them helps keep me going.
And, the biggest help of all, I learned how to turn the tiniest ideas into fully fleshed out ones. Let me use my novel Bound by Kin as an example. It started out with a tiny little idea; wondering why a vampire character in a TV show I was watching didn’t have a reflection but was still able to talk on a cellphone. I pulled on all the little threads of this idea until I ended up with a plan for three books, multiple short stories, and comics. Learning to find those threads is how I build my ideas and keep myself inspired. With BBK that meant figuring out what a world would be like where vampires couldn’t be recorded AT ALL. It would mean no 911 system, no movies, no radio, no phone calls, etc. How would that world work? What sort of people would it create? Training yourself to look for and ask all these little questions about your ideas will greatly improve your creative process.
Being inspired is an essential part of being creative, but it is also one of the trickiest. What tricks have you picked up over the years to stay inspired?