Keeping the love and inspiration alive is the essence of any form of art. Which makes it really tough and even frustrating to make music at the times when we’re not feeling inspired by seemingly anything – yes it happens to the best of us!
I notice that the ebb and flow of my inspiration pool correlates directly to how much brain-space I have. For example, if I’m feeling stressed and anxious, the less inspired I will be. This can eventually become a vicious cycle since being stressed makes me feel upset, which in turn makes me recede into solitude, which then confines me within my own mind and ultimately, I have significantly reduced access to external sources of inspiration.
It’s fairly simple to be inspired during our leisurely periods; we all know the usual sources – nature, art, film, and trips. But going on a hike, a trip to the museum or traveling often takes time and is not always accessible. It’s significantly more important for us to remain inspired during the busy times so that we don’t fall into the trap of going into auto-pilot mode where we continue to generate but no longer create. When there’s so much to do and so little time, it’s easy to forget the beauty of creation or to (please excuse the cliché), “stop and smell the roses.”
This happened to me recently. I was on tour juggling a lot of different repertoire while simultaneously learning new pieces for other upcoming concerts. I was basically trying to squeeze in practice time at every spare moment I had. There was one free day which I was really looking forward to and I intended to spend it entirely at my hotel room, working on my new pieces.
I was already feeling a bit tired from the previous day’s travels and by 7.15 PM, I was pretty brain-dead. During my break, I was scrolling through Instagram, when I noticed that one of my favorite orchestras was performing a concert in the same city, in less than an hour! I had two options then, either stay in and chug along with my new pieces, or get out the door in 15 minutes and head to the concert.
I went to the concert. (By the way, yes, I can get ready in 15 minutes!)
It ended up being the first time in a while that I was sitting still for an evening, slowing the thought process in my head, and just appreciating the art that was being created before me.
I had honestly intended to only listen to the first half, but it was so good that I ended up staying for the whole concert. I knew I was losing the hours I had planned for practicing, but I could feel that I was gaining something else, something so much more valuable: INSPIRATION.
Before the concert, I was working on my new pieces in what I realized afterwards, was a fairly technical manner. I was getting the job done, I was ticking all the boxes, but I hadn’t been able to fully grasp what exactly I wanted to say with the pieces or how I wanted to express it.
The morning after the concert and a good night’s sleep, the dam burst open and the ideas were suddenly flowing again. I wanted to try out so many different and new approaches with the piece. I wasn’t just thinking with my head anymore, I was feeling with my heart, just as I had done as an audience member in the concert hall.
Now, I’m not saying that going to one concert will unleash your magical creating powers. In fact, the point of this story isn’t even the concert.
The reason why I suddenly felt so much more inspired the following morning was because I finally had the headspace for it. Instead of pushing myself on with work, I took a few hours off for myself to relax, hear something beautiful. I took a much needed step back.
In other times, it might be a movie, a book, paragliding in the Alps, or witnessing a gorgeous sunset on the beach that inspires me. But whatever it is, I know that I have to first put myself in a relaxed, unguarded state so that I can connect with it emotionally, instead of just observing it.
So, if you’re feeling a little stuck with whatever you’re trying to create, I encourage you to forget about the ticking time bomb for once and take a step back. Whether it’s listening to music, writing poetry, dancing or cooking – do something that enables you to acquire that valuable mental real estate. Inspiration is waiting for you! You just need to be prepared to let it in.