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Where Do You Get Creative Inspiration? – Part 2

[Continued from Part 1.]

brain-Human Connectome Project“Before the dance of inspiration and perspiration can begin, there must be some raw material, some spark of inciting energy.”

From the book The Soul of Creativity: Insights into the Creative Process by Tona Pearce Myers.

Actor Rose McGowan relates an experience that may be common for many creative people: being inspired by seeing someone else’s artwork or other form of creative expression:

“After saving my allowance for ten years, I flew to Paris when I was 15 years old. When I visited the Musée Rodin, I was profoundly inspired by the story and the pain of Camille Claudel. Her diminutive sculptures — much smaller in stature to Rodin’s — led me to become an artist.”

That is a quote in the book The Art of Discovery: Hollywood Stars Reveal Their Inspirations.

See more quotes in my post: Creative Inspiration: The Art of Discovery book.

Another example of a challenging life experience helping fuel artistic expression (like Andrea Ashworth in Part 1) is Joni Mitchell, who contracted polio as a young child.

Joni Mitchell - In Her Own Words bookAs writer Maria Popova notes in her article, it was “before the invention of the polio vaccine.

“Bedridden for weeks, with a prognosis of never being able to walk again, she found hope in singing during that harrowing time at the hospital a hundred miles from her home.

“And yet she did walk again — an extraordinary walk of life that overcame polio, and overcame poverty, and pernicious critics to make Mitchell one of the most original and influential musicians in modern history, the recipient of eight Grammy Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement.”

[Click image to view larger, and see Mitchell’s quotes on creativity.]

From article Joni Mitchell on Freedom, the Source of Creativity, and the Dark Side of Success.

The article refers to the book: Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words – Conversations with Malka Marom.

Inspiration or hard work?

Professor of psychology R. Keith Sawyer was asked, “What advice can you give us nongeniuses to help us be more creative?”

His answer: “Take risks, and expect to make lots of mistakes, because creativity is a numbers game. Work hard, and take frequent breaks, but stay with it over time. Do what you love, because creative breakthroughs take years of hard work.”

He added, “Most of all, forget those romantic myths that creativity is all about being artsy and gifted and not about hard work. They discourage us because we’re waiting for that one full-blown moment of inspiration. And while we’re waiting, we may never start working on what we might someday create.”

Prof. Sawyer is author of the book Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation.

Quoted in my article Positive Obsessions To Be Creative – which begins with a quote by actor Edward Norton: “Sometimes creativity is a compulsion, not an ambition.”

[This article is one of several excerpts from my book Developing Multiple Talents: The personal side of creative expression.]

Artist and choreographer Twyla Tharp would probably agree with Sawyer, and comments that discipline and routine are “as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more.”

[From her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.]


Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman relates inspiration to a key element of doing any kind of demanding work, including creative expression. He writes:

“Another incredibly important, but often overlooked, activator of intrinsic motivation is inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way a person perceives of his or her own capabilities.

“Inspiration is also transcendent of our more self-serving concerns and limitations.

“Finally, inspiration involves approach motivation, in which the individual strives to transmit, express, or actualize a new idea or vision… inspiration involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration.”

From his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.

[The photo at the top is from my article Are Brains of Artists Different?]

What about for you? How important is inspiration for your creative work and achievement?


Where Do You Get Creative Inspiration? – Part 2

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 You Get Creative Inspiration? – Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Nov 2014
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