Recently I had the time and energy for a serious writing streak, and it got me thinking about inspiration. What does it feel like? How can we keep it going? What is it made of?
Of course this topic has been written about at length, but when I started to reflect on the feeling, it occurred to me that inspiration is an intersection between being relaxed and stimulated.
What does that mean?
When you’re inspired ideas pour out rapidly, there’s a flow that doesn’t require much effort. On the one hand there’s a feeling of enjoyment and ease, but at the same time, it´s not at all passive. You’re highly stimulated and excited. You can’t write fast enough.
This got me thinking about inspiration as a unique state balanced between meditation and work. So I decided I want to initiate an on-going experiment, reflecting upon the relationship between meditation and inspiration.
I’ve come to some initial conclusions, but first, let me define my terms:
Meditation – When you let go of all thoughts of the outside world, often by focusing only on your breath or a mantra. This practice is enhanced by time, patience and repetition so that the meditator increasingly reaches an incredible state of bliss.
Inspiration – As artists, this one is probably our favorite state, it’s like a creative fountain of ideas that flow with great clarity. It’s also a place of naked honesty because ideas are still evolving. In your mind, you’re still posing questions, and answers are flashing up (which is exciting) but you’re not committed to them yet. You’re allowing them to build and fluctuate.
Thus far in my experiment, I’ve made three initial observations that greatly increased my levels of inspiration and my productivity as a writer.
The story becomes clearer. Have you ever noticed that the moment you stop trying to solve a problem, the answers float to you almost naturally? So it is with meditation. I spend ten minutes letting go, and then as I’m coming out of it, my mind is flooded with clarity. I have insights that I wouldn’t normally have. Plus I can focus this clarity in the direction I choose.
I’m more flexible with my edits. You’ve probably heard the old writing adage, “Kill your darlings,” but usually that’s so hard to do. I have the habit of coming up with a title that I love and then trying to bend the whole plot just to make it fit. You’ll have to murder me before I kill that title, even if it’s not working. However, I’ve noticed that meditation gives me a more flexible cushion for editing. I’m not grasping on to the stuff that’s got to go.
It increases concentration and decreases cappuccino. This one surprised me, because it wasn’t intentional, but I noticed by meditating (and constantly hydrating) I was better able to concentrate and my coffee craving went away after breakfast. Plus at the end of the day I didn’t feel drained. I still had energy to spare.