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Where Do We Get Creative Inspiration?

Kiss of the Muse by Paul CezanneWhere does creative inspiration come from? It may show up mysteriously, “out of the blue” – and for a good part of human history, it has been explained as a gift from a supernatural being, a Muse.

At least some people still embrace that idea, or at least like to use the concept.

Novelist and author Steven Pressfield writes in his book “The War of Art” about pulling in creative power when we are doing creative work:

“Power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

In his Introduction to the book, writer and instructor    Robert McKee comments, “I, on the other hand, believe that the source of creativity is found on the same plane of reality as Resistance [the “dark antagonism” to creativity]. It, too, is genetic. It’s called talent…”

[This painting is one of many examples of artists being “visited” with inspiration: “Kiss of the Muse” by Paul Cezanne, used in several articles of mine, including Creative Talent: Genetics, A Muse, Or Hard Work?]

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One kind of inspiration or motivation to create is to deal with difficult life circumstances.

Andrea Ashworth wrote her memoir Once in a House on Fire as an adult, recalling how much she and her sisters suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse from two stepfathers.

In our interview, she talked about how writing the memoir was “a real sanity-saving exercise” and way to deal with her past, and then be able to move on to writing fiction.

She had found journal writing as a child was a kind of emotional buffer against the abuse she experienced. She said,

“I wouldn’t have known that’s what it was then, but I know I found it a very sweet pleasure. And I found reading and writing a sanctuary.”

From my post: Writer Andrea Ashworth on Developing Creativity.

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Amy Tan

Writer Amy Tan refers to a kind of Muse inspiration, saying in an interview:

“I think I was pushed in a way to write this book (‘The Hundred Secret Senses’) by certain spirits in my life – the yin people. They’ve always been there, I wouldn’t say to help, but to kick me in the ass to write.

“I’m educated, I’m reasonably sane, and I know that this subject is fodder for ridicule. But ultimately, I have to write what I have to write about, including the question of life continuing beyond our ordinary senses.”

From post: Amy Tan and Writing and Depression.

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Concluded in Part 2


Where Do We Get Creative Inspiration?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Where Do We Get Creative Inspiration?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Nov 2014
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