Are you bored? Maybe you should be.

I'm going to argue with a term today. A lot of you won't like it. ...but bear with me...I think I will make sense by the end.

The term I am wrestling with today? Inspiration. Everyone is inspired by everything. You knock off a design from a catalog and it was "inspired". Well, not so much - it was just knocked off. ....and in my ethical world I don't have a problem with knock offs that you aren't selling...go for it. Just don't call it inspired.

This is the thing...
It's hard to get inspired if you aren't bored.

ME -- kinda bored.
By inspired I mean....completely totally inspired from that space in your gut that weaves together all of the influences in your life and comes up with an idea, a thought, an image that is completely yours. Someone else might be doing something LIKE it somewhere else in the world (or on pinterest), but you haven't seen it there -- you've seen it in your soul.

That is one of the gifts God gives us -- this desire and ability to weave inspiration and create something.

The only caveat?

We have to wait for it. We have to wait until we are bored and then it strikes. The creative genius doesn't come when you are looking at fabulous ideas. The strike of a new thought isn't found on the pages of pinterest. It isn't even found in old books, old movies, or beautiful ancient cathedrals with magnificent stained glass windows. those things are all inspiring -- they are all the threads of the web, but they aren't the NEW IDEA.

The new idea comes when you are sitting on your front stoop, dappled sunlight dancing across your face and you check your watch wondering when the bus will come. 10 more minutes? Should I get a magazine...nah too tired...hmmm that green is really kinda looks like the green of that arch that was weathered know I wonder what it would look like if............ THAT my friend, is inspiration.

Inspiration is not looking at a catalog page and liking the colors so you decide to create a room based around those colors.
(That is completely fine by the way...lots o people do that, but I'm going to argue that it isn't particularly "inspired".)

The concept that blows your mind is the one that comes to you when you are sitting in church, the message isn't really your thing this morning and your mind drifts. You start looking at the shapes in the ceiling, doodling on your paper. Your mind picks up bits and pieces of what the pastor is saying and everything weaves together until BAM -- you've got the idea. THAT is inspiration.

Inspiration is when you are chilling in the bathtub...60 minutes after you hopped in...all the magazines are read, the catalogs are tossed across the bathroom floor, but you don't want to get out yet. There is this seed of an idea way back in the back of your head and you know if you start unloading the dishwasher and loading the washer and watching Mad Men - -- it will just go POOF. GONE. So you sit...wiggle your toes...add a little more hot water and then all the sudden, you go into that half asleep, half awake world and the idea comes. Inspired.

You know that feeling right? That one in the bathtub when you start to fall asleep? The waking UP feeling is even better. You know the one where you think it is time to wake up., but you don't want to pull yourself out of the dream just quite yet. You can think consciously and unconsciously at the exact same moment. Your thoughts begin to weave, and they are well primed at weaving because your mind has been dreaming now for hours....and then it hits you. The plot line - the story -- the image of the main character. You've got it. You flip open your eyes like a plastic coated light switch, reach blindly for your journal (where ARE my contacts?) and begin furiously scribbling your thoughts. You know you've only got about 30 seconds to remember it -- remember everything and you've got to get it down or will go POOF. Goodbye. Sionara inspiration. All gone.

Those ideas that you can't get out of your head when you're walking around with a cup of coffee in your hands in the morning. The thoughts that keep coming back on that 10 hour car ride to Ohio. Those are the ideas of inspiration. Those are the ideas you should fixate on and weave them within the confines of your experiences.

I say this not to say everyone has to think like a creative. I know at least half of the people in the world DON'T think like this. You know...the ones that can actually do math. I can't do math. ...but I get inspired. I have mini-moments of fixating on ideas, words, images, thoughts. That is how my brain works. ...but it only works like that when I give it space to. When I fill my brain with too much "inspiration", then it can't be inspired.

So you are one of those creative minds too?

Stop reading for a minute. Stop looking at art. Stop engaging your mind and let it weave.

THAT is when the inspiration will come.


Great post. Very inspiring. :D LOL No, seriously, I get you. I am 100% with you on the creativity coming at times when you let yourself imagine and dream. I have lots of half asleep AHA moments, too. My husband gets tired of seeing the light of my iphone in bed because I have to write down my thoughts (in an email to myself) so I don't lose them.

Brain dump, we call it at my office.
jess said…
I can't help but think about that one season of design start--Emily's season, I think? (i get them all mixed up b/c i watched them ALL from December to March this year online.) ANYWAY. I was so ANNOYED everytime the poor contestants had to pick something out of a basket to use as their inspiration.

LIke, "Here. Choose to be inspired by garlic or a loaf of french bread. And then design a kitchen based on that inspiration."

Ya can't FORCE it. Ya can't pick it out of a basket. It just HAPPENS.

Good thoughts. :)
YES!!! Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!
I wish my profile name didn't have "inspire me" in it right now - that sure puts the pressure on...
OH you are too funny Heather -- there is no condemnation, just thoughts know that right??? I find your site to be fabulous and you know it!
Lovely post! Thought-provoking. I for one am inspired to go find some inspiration in a 60-minute bath. :)
Carrie said…
YES! When I'm feeling particularly blah, I shut down the computer and create. Even if I stand in front of my table for 30 minutes staring at things, something will come together. For some reason my best ideas have been in the shower, too-- I think that it's because I can't write things down while in there.

When I was a teacher, someone once told me that it's good to have the kids stare out windows once in awhile. In this age of state-mandated testing and memorization, I found if a child was distracted or having a hard day a few minutes of "window" therapy works wonders. Letting your mind wander with no goal besides wandering is difficult at first but freeing once you achieve it! Thanks for reminding me of that.
ahhhhh window therapy....that is a wonderful thing. I get that when we are traveling forever and a day in the car....but I didn't think abot the kids needing window time...LOVE the idea...
So true! Why do you think all the good ideas hit when we are in the shower??? Down time is super important.
The shower is such a wonderful place to think! I think Carrie said she gets ideas in there because she can't write anything, so the ideas just flow...

I once had a professor in college that was talking about the shower. She said she noticed one day that she was taking 40 minute showers. She finally realized that the shower was the only place she was getting quiet, peaceful thinking time, so she unconsciously kept stretching the time. It was a cue for her to create more thinking time for herself. ...and that is one of the only things I remember from that class -- amazing what "sticks" and what doesn't :)
The Bold Abode said…
Yes! It's in the quiet that your inner self speaks... and it is in the quiet of your mind that you hear it...

Beautifully said, Amy.
Gray Shelton said…
So many comments to make here. I completely agree with the "knock-off" versus "inspriation" idea. I struggle with a word for "not quite a knock off, but similar to an idea I've seen at {insert store name} because I can't afford that..." Haha. But lately, this lack of true gut wrenching, if-I-don't-put-it-on-paper-I'll-die inspired idea. I used to get them a lot when I was in design school. And the lack of them lately, has me, frankly, scared. What if I've lost it? That thing that made me a great, edgy design student?? Then I realized -- I've been staying at home with my son, looking at Pinterest/Houzz/Craft Blogs in my free time. I have STOPPED sketching altogether...which is my first thing to go back to. Next time I get a "day to myself" I don't want to make anything. I want to sketch - out in nature - because that's when I would get really inspired in school.

Although, the other day, I was considering my master bathroom and came up with a design (for a his and hers bath) in our space, that I'm absolutely in love it. However, I can't find ANYTHING to create this wonderful bathroom... apparently the products just don't exist in any outlet that I'm aware of. Does that ever happen to you??

Thanks for the reassuring article, that I haven't "lost" it, I'm just not allowing my mind to have time to "weave" those ideas! Love your writing!
Gray - ummmmmm YES! That happens to me ALL the time and that is when I wish I knew more woodworking skills -- unfortunately I know very little :( I actually have that EXACT same predicament right now...working on a bathroom - wanting to seperate things up a bit, make 3 "stations" (1 kids, 1 me, 1 Alex), but aside from a giant vanity with three sinks, they don't really make it. I have lots of ideas, but no way of making them...

Anywho -- thank you for your comment and here's to many gut wrenching bouts of inspiration with you adn your sketch pad ;)