My Problem with "Inspiration"

"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something else will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case." - Chuck Close

A friend of mine posted this quote a while back and since then, it stuck with me. It was like a wake up call.

I felt so deceived. And here's why. 


I can't begin to explain how much time I've lost this past year searching for inspiration when I could have put it into good use. My work was on hold for months, thinking I can't get to work because there was just no spark and I simply felt "uninspired." How can I work while I'm uninspired? It didn't make sense to me. The artists I look up to always credited their best work to inspiration so I must trust the process.

I wanted to trust the process. But instead I wasted so much valuable time. Why place so much faith on a media perpetuated myth?

Creatives always romanticised the concept of inspiration to the extent that people just wait around for that life changing revelation. Myself included.  It's like you're out of fuel and can't start your car without it. You think you're stuck and literally can't move. Then after so much time, you realise you can just get out and walk. or run. We crave it and we're constantly searching for it in the hopes that it would change the course of our careers. What we need to realise is that it's not one of those "good things come for those who wait" types of situations. You need to get up and get it yourself.

When I came to this realisation, I felt freed and in control. I didn't have to wait for something to inspire me or seek to get inspired. Everything was in my control. I could take action, get to work and savour in whatever it is I produce. Good or bad, at least I'm working. Work is work. Even if you don't end up with something you like, it's part of the process. Unlike waiting around and doing nothing. The most important thing is to keep the process going.

Yes, of course inspiration exists. And yes it can lead you to produce and accomplish so many beautiful things in whatever career path you pursue. But until you reach (if you ever do) that magical and galvanising moment, you're wasting so much time that you'll never be able to reclaim. It severely hinders your process and progression. That's my problem with "inspiration."