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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seeking Inspiration

From Diane Lockward's amazing monthly newsletter, I got this link to to an article in the UK Guardian entitled "Top Artists Reveal How to Find Creative Inspiration."

I was surprised to read from composer Mark-Anthony Turnage: "Routine is really important. However late you went to bed the night before, or however much you had to drink, get up at the same time each day and get on with it. When I was composing [the opera] Anna Nicole, I was up at 5 or 6am, and worked through until lunch. The afternoon is the worst time for creativity."

I agree about the routine part (for many artists at least), but really, am I the only who writes in the afternoon? I cannot concentrate in the morning until all the things that must be done that day are done, and once my family's home in the evening, it's chaos, so I am often writing in the afternoon. Anybody else?

From director Rupert Goold, this observation:  "Get an alarm with a long snooze function and set it early. Shallow-sleep dreams have been the source of many of my best ideas (sadly, small children are no respecters of prospective genius)."

Yes! Waking early in the morning I sometimes find I have solved in my sleep the creative dilemma I went to bed thinking about.

Rupert Goold makes  a few other points I found provacative:
"Once you have an idea, scrutinise the precedent. If no one has explored it before in any form then you're 99% likely to be making a mistake. But that 1% risk is why we do it.";
and, "Make sure you are asking a question that is addressed both to the world around you and the world within you. It's the only way to keep going when the doubt sets in.";
and "An idea is just a map. The ultimate landscape is only discovered when it's under foot, so don't get too bogged down in its validity.";
and finally, "Love the effect over its cause."

From playwright Lucy Prebble, this encouragement: "Feeling intimidated is a good sign. Writing from a place of safety produces stuff that is at best dull and at worst dishonest."

Here's a tidbit from artist Susan Philipsz that coincidentally has been on my mind recently as a real lack in my creative life: "Daydream. Give yourself plenty of time to do nothing. Train journeys are good."

From artist Polly Morgan: "Hard work isn't always productive. Your brain needs periods of inactivity. I think of it as a field lying fallow; keep harvesting and the crops won't mature."

I've certainly found this to be true; sometimes I feel like I'm not working, not getting anything written, and then I have a suddenly hyper-productive period that follows the fallow time, and wouldn't have been possible without it. See my post Patron Saint Against Writer's Block.

Enjoy more insights at the UK Guardian link above.


Mari said...

I like Polly Morgan's quote and wonder if the abundance of soulless, cookie-cutter poetry out there today is, in part, due to a skewed emphasis on production and even overproduction? It's like industrialized agriculture: the produce that's harvested has no flavor.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Mari, I really agree. The focus on daily process may encourage overpublication, if not only overproduction. Not everything most people do is going to be good, especially if they are driven by the need to produce constantly. I envy those artists who produce when they have something to say, and it is always good; and I have empathy for and an understanding of those who need to produce a lot to finally have something good. But an artist needs to know which group (or some other group) she belongs to.