Friday September 9, 2018 By: Dina Al Mahdy
Many of us wait for inspiration to give us creative momentum. It sometimes feels as though inspiration is a mysterious force — sometimes it shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. But it isn’t something we have to wait for.
So what if we could summon our inner muse at will? What if each time we sat down to write, we could reach that magic zone where the words just spilled out onto the page?
I believe that what we often refer to as ‘the muse’ – the goddess or power that fuels our creativity – isn’t outside of us… It’s right here within us.
So here are some ways to summon your inner muse:
1. Keep a Journal.
Jot down the things that inspire or intrigue you. It could be anything—a quote from a famous person, an ad slogan or the fortune you receive in a Chinese fortunate cooking. Sometimes, the most mundane things can spark our inspiration.
Capture random things you observe or imagine. Anything goes: Snippets of conversation overheard on a train; An image or memory that occurs out of thin air; Anything that fascinates or repels you.
The great thing that happens when you keep a notebook on hand is that you tune in to the world. You become present. More receptive.
If you aren’t the wordy type, then take pictures. In the age of smartphones, most people have a camera within reach.
2. Write What Comes Up Immediately.
Honor your first waking thoughts. After all, if you don’t write it down – it is like it never happened. It will vanish into thin air. The first suggestion is to begin writing “Morning Pages”. I guarantee you this practice will change your creative life forever. Even if you’re not a writer.
3. Freewrite Privately.
Freewriting is one of the best ways to get words on paper that I know of. The idea is to write non-stop, for a specific interval of time. 10 minutes, let’s say.
The writing doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or fluent. It can be riddled with typos, nonsensical fragments. The important thing is to keep writing.
Freewriting could lead to brilliant writing. But that’s not the point. The goal is in the process, not the outcome. When we freewrite, we break through our own creative resistance. We let go of our expectations to write something dazzling, structured, or even coherent.
Our freewrite is our private, uncensored space. A creative freefall.
4. Have Role Models Who Inspire You and Borrow from Them.
By “role model” I mean just about anyone. It can be someone living or dead, famous or non-famous, or even a fictional character.
When choosing a role model or role models, keep in mind that:
a) A role model does not have to be perfect in all fields of life.
b) The goal isn’t to be exactly like them.
On days when I feel I need to boost my confidence, and when I was first learning photography, one of my role models was the pioneering Victorian photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron. Despite the fact that I had no delusions of my work ever getting the sort of acclaim hers gets to this day, it was comforting to know that, like me, she once started off knowing nothing whatsoever about photography and was largely self-taught.
5. Continue to Be Fascinated by the World and the People in It.
While we all have those days when we want to throw our hands in the air and say, “Enough!”, the world continues to be a fascinating place.
I like the fact that the world is constantly changing. There is still a lot of good in it, but fascination with the world doesn’t mean only being intrigued by the good things in life. It also includes being interested in its darker aspects.
I believe there is an incredible amount of beauty to be found in some of the uglier aspects of life.
Often I’ve found that even people and things I don’t like fascinate or intrigue me. I actually think the worst thing someone or something can be is boring.
So don’t be afraid to embrace and map the darkness in everything happening around you.
6. Build a Solid Mental Reservoir of Ideas.
Always collect words, phrases, and quotes you enjoy. Allow them to self-organize within your mental matrix. Then, every day when it’s time to clock in, soften your eyes and allow the words to come alive on the page.
And, as you watch them do their dance, don’t ask yourself what you “feel” like writing about – ask yourself what wants to be written. You will be amazed, believe me. You will NEVER need to worry about running out of ideas.
Writing is not entirely a conscious process. It’s intuitive. When we try to control or summon our writing solely through the intellect, we sometimes wind up feeling emotionally disconnected from our work. Creativity then gets blocked.
Our creative process flourishes when we’re relaxed and receptive. When we relax and pay attention to these unconscious signals, we become conscious of the experience in terms of its meaning. We become aware of what the unconscious is “saying.”
To conclude, while being a muse to others can certainly be amazing, being your own is even better. Not only do you get to have total control of the output, but it can be a great way to tap deeper into yourself and learn more about your own creative power.
Let your work breathe. Remain curious about the world. Let go of this notion that you have to wait for the muse to show up before you have permission to be brilliant.
So by becoming your own muse, you may end being more intrigued by your own fab self than you ever thought possible.
Photos credit to Dina Al-Mahdy. To view her writings and photographs, visit Dina Al_Mahdy’s website here
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