From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creative Inspiration: Mind, Body and Relationships

I'd like to get a little philosophical for a bit. I cannot take the credit for these ideas, but I have permission to discuss them and I think they are interesting and useful.

One of the big philosophical issues that writers deal with is how we as writers can receive creative inspiration, and also how we can make our writing inspiring to readers. Nurturing our minds, bodies and relationships in certain key ways I really think can help us in our efforts to achieve that level of inspiration in ways that might surprise us.

Body: It's not that writing a novel takes being in Olympic-athlete shape. But how we treat our bodies has a huge impact on our thoughts and emotions, and therefore I think it has a hugely significant influence on our writing ability. I think our bodies can help or hinder our ability to receive inspiration, depending on what we put in them.
-LETHAL: Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco, anything addictive, etc. These things can not only be literally lethal, but lethal to your ability to get creative inspiration. They take over.
-EMPTY: Refined foods, soda, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love my cheesecake and diet Dr. Pepper. Not that in reasonable doses these foods are super damaging, but they don't do much good either.
-VITAL: Fruit, veggies, whole grains, herbs, excercize, etc. The classic good foods. When you eat healthily and treat your body well, you feel good and your body isn't so clogged with junk it can't think straight. Not only that, but when you're feeding your body what it needs it works better, faster and more efficiently, including our ability to receive inspiration.

Mind: Treating our minds right is clearly and directly influential to our ability to receive inspiration. What we put in our minds is as important, if not more so, than what we put in our body.
-LETHAL: Pornography, gambling, anything addictive or exploitive, etc. These things can completely overtake your mind, and I don't think there is anything more detrimental to receiving inspiration.
-EMPTY: "Hypnotizing" media, gaming, "art" with no real value that doesn't get you thinking, etc. This one is a little harder to pin down, and I believe it is more individual. Its the things that make you sit on the couch for hours, couch potato and brain candy stuff. Whatever that is for you. Again, not that these things are really going to hurt you terribly, but they're certainly not going to help either. I think a lot of people get stuck here.
-VITAL: The best books, music, cinema, visual arts, etc. Again, this can be personal, but there are certain touch-stone artists: Shakespeare, Bach, Van Gogh, Meryl Streep. There can be nothing more inspiring than great art, and it can make you happy, poignant and excited about life. At least thats what it does for me. Immerse yourself, it is the best creative medicine.

Relationships: While the mind and body are more focused on how writers can receive inspiration, this last category is more focused on how we writers can give it. To me, that aspect of writing is incredibly important. I think thats why most of us write, because we want to inspire readers. Building relationships and connections with the people around us can help us further our understanding of humanity, which is what writers are trying to do anyway, right?
-LETHAL: Any exploitive behavior. I doubt most of us have issues with this area; not many of us are going out murdering, thieving, or otherwise pillaging. Maybe what we writers can do is to try to comprehend even a little why this kind of behavior happens, what kind of people end up doing these things and what we can do to help stop it.
-EMPTY: Self-absorbed, ignorant behavior. Ignoring other peoples needs, making assumptions. This is disturbingly easy to do, I think. Again, you're probably not really hurting anyone, at least significantly or long-term, but not helping either.
-VITAL: Charity, service, understanding. Start with your immediate world, your family and close friends. Family can be the hardest, but is the most important to understand. It is incredibly unfortunate how many broken families there are, and I feel so lucky that my family is so close. I think every family is probably dysfunctional on some level, but that is different than broken. Then there are much wider issues. Pick a way to help society in general, donate to charities, volunteer at your local animal shelter. Do something. I believe this can be one of the most eye-opening, inspiring experiences anyone can have.

Anyway, thank you for letting me wax philosophical, maybe a bit sentimental. I know these are generalities, but I believe they can help. I'd love to know what you think.

Sarah Allen

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