Harnessing the Muse

We have all experienced those fleeting moments of intense inspiration when the vibrancy of our ideas overwhelms us. We frantically scratch pen to paper, afraid we will only be gifted with milliseconds of such potent creativity. And then, like appreciating the passing smell of damp earth in Spring, or the brief sensation of warm sun through the window on a cold January day, it is gone. The richness of the fertile soil is replaced by the annoying sensation of dirty water in our shoes. The warm sun disappears exposing the frigid reality of frozen mud and old snow. If only we could have held that moment in our minds for a little longer. What other revelations would find us worthy of exploration?

For someone who believes that creativity is a form of religious experience—a way to encounter the divine spark that fuels the fire in our bellies—harnessing such moments is of paramount importance. But we must have tools to do so. The most powerful of these are belief, value, and joy.

Belief: Are you special? Do you deserve to be creative? Do you deserve to be an artist? The moment you answer “no” is the moment you suffer a little death—the child within gives up its last breath. These are not questions that matter. The question that matters is, “What are you?” And if you answer, “I am a creative entity,” you must believe it.

Value: Inherent within any successful undertaking is the knowledge that effort is subordinate to purpose. If what we do has no value it subtracts from our integrity.  Commit yourself to a task devoid of value and you are doomed to reach a moment of self-realized purposelessness. This cannot be. You must know, deeply and resolutely, that what you do matters. If you do not believe you are being gifted with an idea worth sharing the muse will not return.

Joy: Creation is an act of joy; destruction is an act of despair. Joy fuels productivity; self-doubt fuels inactivity. When a child plays there is no effort and no hesitation. It is simply play. What a powerful substance courses through their veins. If creativity and play co-exist within us what possibilities cannot be made practical?

What we experience in those rapturous moments is a confluence of these three sensations. We believe that we deserve to be creative; we believe that the product of our creation has value; and we feel joy. In the end we realize that the muse doesn’t exist. It is just us, alone, with our perception.  If we can appreciate these moments with such awareness perhaps they will be less transient.