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Inspiration and Productivity

‘I’m an artist don’t you know’

Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way round (Hugh Mcleod)

It is very important to remember this because we can very easily slip into unproductive routines, attempting to force our uninspired minds onto the blank canvass. This is not good for us, or for those around us who might start to find the melodrama surrounding our creative routines fairly irritating.

How often is it you see the people who define themselves as ‘artists’, are the ones who struggle to actually create anything? They box their mind into this false identity, which works like vinegar and completely pickles any of the inspired thoughts they had before. They become so self-absorbed and obsessed with their own importance that they often end of missing the point. No where did I find this more evident than in the BBC documentary, Goldsmiths: but is it art? which came out a few years back.

In quite a tragic portrayal of these ‘artists’ you see the often-vacuous nature of the students’ creations, and the desperation in their plight to become professional after leaving the Goldsmiths bubble. It highlights a massive divide between this world and the world the rest of us live in. They spend every waking hour getting stressed out, hiding in their studios coming up with ridiculous ideas simply for the sake of their perceived ‘artist’ identity – there is a horrible elitism that permeates through some of the conversation too. The idea that they are artists and are obviously better than the rest of us because they are at Goldsmiths is laughable at best and completely flies in the face of the humility that I think is crucial in creation.

So how do we avoid becoming like these people?

– Keep your day job, or some sense of perspective maintaining activity. Work with other people, for other people and around other people who don’t really pay much interest to your art.

– Carry around devices to catch those nuggets of inspiration when they strike.
o Very rarely do I sit down to write having not bee inspired first, and usually, if I attempt this I end up staring at nothing until I decide to go and do something else. Inevitably as soon as I leave the house an idea comes.
o It is important to carry whatever you need to scribble these ideas down. A notebook, mobile phone, camera etc. (It is different for everyone) I find my phone suffices nowadays because I can record audio, write notes, film etc.
o This way, when we do have time to sit in a dark room alone it is not an unproductive waste of time, and we don’t annoy other people by making a big melodramatic song and dance about it. Just quietly scribble down your idea in enough detail to be able to understand it later.

– Understand that no one cares. I am not important. This is quite a freeing thing to get your head around. When we work this out, we become free of the pressure that comes with believing we are of any significance. At the end of the day, when we think we are/should be important to the world, the only thing we are actually important to is ourselves and when this happens people start to hate us.
o Learn to become free to learn from others and free from the need to teach.
o Acknowledge inspiration and put the encouragement of others before the encouragement of yourself. You know how important it is for you to be encouraged and appreciated so do just that to others and the rest will fall into place.

– Finally, just don’t be a dick; enjoy having the freedom, space and privilege to be able to do what you do and use this to fight for change in the systems that mean others don’t have these. Art is one of the most important tools we have for chiselling out social awareness, change and freedom – use it as such, for the sake of others and not for the sake of your own advancement and so called ‘career’.

You can watch the documentary here:

Andy Mort

Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He is the founder of Sheep Dressed Like Wolves: a Blog and Podcast helping introverts and highly sensitive people recognise and embrace their creativity; and identify what is holding them back from living with the passion, purpose, and meaning they seek in a sometimes overwhelming world.

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