Inspiration: Getting Hard To Fake It?

With the school year nearing an end, there probably isn’t much more I can talk about that you haven’t already experienced over the past two semesters. I’ve shared my stories of leaving school and reapplying; of frantic job hunts, of many interviews and of my long-sought-after employment. So, I thought I would take this week to venture into a topic that I, as someone who dabbles in a number of arts, find extremely important: inspiration.

If you’ve been following my blogs for the entire year, then you may recall that I like to consider myself an amateur “artist” in many different forms. These include (but are not limited to): my writing, my music (saxophone, flute, clarinet, piano), photography and film/videography. Anyone can work at any number of artistic activities, but without inspiration, the work can be frustrating and pointless. So how do you find inspiration?

Coming from a generation where anything can be found through a simple Google search can be both overwhelming and demotivating. Sometimes you feel like it’s all been done before, and no matter what, you will never be seen as creative. For those of you familiar with South Park, I offer you the quote “Simpsons did it!” While it may seem like every original thought has been taken, still, it is these thoughts that inspire us whether we like it or not.

In music school, we were required to take contemporary music history. At the beginning of the class we were told that without a complete understanding of what came before us, we could never be truly innovative as musicians. This was hammered into us even more in our performance classes, where we were required to transcribe (play note for note) famous musicians’ solos. These teaching tactics were not meant to make us feel inadequate about our own ideas, but instead to inject them with classic models that we each could then shape and mold to our unique personality.

In terms of writing, you could do the same. You might have an author that you love to the point that every time you write, you feel as if you are plagiarizing. Instead, just know that your writing is simply inspired by them: most writing is done on a personal level and each author’s mark is unique, formed by their individual life experiences. For instance, when I began this blog, I struggled to develop strong topics to talk about week after week. In my first month, I was praying for anything to inspire me in the slightest… but week after week, the evening before my deadline, something would come to me. Whether it was in the form of a newsletter I had received from the college, a blog post I had read earlier that day, or in a passing conversation with a friend, inspiration would lodge itself in my brain and I would be able to write, taking that source material and putting my own spin on it.

In working through uninspired days and feeling unoriginal, consider this: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Just don’t stop with imitation. Take your life experiences and infuse them into your work. Take that idea you picked up from that blog and personalize it with an anecdote. Move past the idea of being “innovative” and, once you finally do, you may find that your work truly is unique.

Anyway, points to those who get the reference in my title and good luck to those of you dealing with the last few weeks of school! You’re almost there!

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