Why most successful artists don't have the luxury of working when inspiration strikes


“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso

There has long been a myth around creative people only working when inspiration strikes in frenzies of creativity. These mythical creative people sit around waiting for the next bolt of inspiration to hit before they start working and luckily produce high quality works that meet their market with ease. I suppose it’s not pure myth, it can happen that way. If you’re a naturally creative person with the time, freedom and resources to drop everything and indulge those strikes of inspiration as they come up, I’m very jealous but super happy for you – go for it! Most dedicated creative people, however, find they need to create through a commitment to their art and discipline around when and how they apply themselves. Most successful creatives don’t have the luxury to wait until inspiration strikes.

Finding time to create can be a challenge for pretty much all of us. If your art doesn’t make you a full time income, finding the time to dedicate to developing what you’re doing can be really tricky. If you are working full time to support your family or your lifestyle, the chances of being able to drop tools to work when inspiration hits is unlikely. If your intent is to indeed make a living off your art then, like any job, you turn up every day and not just when you feel like it.

On retreat, we dedicate time every single day to journaling, regardless of what art form (if any) people are interested in. The reason for this is multi fold. One reason is simply about creative flow, engaging and learning to tap into ways of discovering inspiration in unlikely places. The other is to create a non-judgmental forum, where you write just for the sake of writing without an audience in mind. But more than anything, it is about dedicating time to creating regardless of how you feel. These are only short exercises, usually only 10 minutes at a time, but they are designed to get you in the habit of creating. It is about creating a discipline around art making.

If you have a creative story to tell, regardless of what art form it’s in, then you will probably need to make a commitment to dedicate time in order for this to happen. This can be really hard if you’re working, have kids and other commitments. The good news is there are ways of structuring your life to support your creativity. In fact a lot of the work that I do with my clients on creating their best creative life comes down to the pretty uncreative work of routines and time management. If you’re wanting to write, draw, paint, dance, play music, or what ever creative passtime floats your boat but aren’t because you are waiting for inspiration to strike and/or find when it does strike you haven’t the capacity to follow through, then it’s time to get discipled. Setting aside some time every day/week/month in a disciplined way and forcing yourself to turn up regardless of inspiration will amaze you with the results it yeilds. But don’t take my word for it just ask Pablo Picasso!

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