Five Ways to Inspire Yourself

Well, the autumn chill is in the air around Brooklyn, and I’ve been meaning to update starvingartistsguide.com for a long while, and finally have chance to do so. Life is good and creativity for me is at an all-time high; I’ve been working feverishly to get the Starving Artist’s Guide to NYC in bookstores for the holiday season, writing out a first draft for a new children’s book, working on a passion project that will meld philosophy, humor and my doodle sketches, trying to record a new demo of sorts, teaching sculpture and woodworking classes, and trying to learn how to read music!!!
So, consequently, this website has unfortunately been compromised as far as being continually updated. But fear not! I’ve also been working on a 2011 Addendum for those of you who enjoyed the tone of The Starving Artist’s Guide, which will be updates regarding everything within the book, including cheap restaurant reviews I’ve done in the past year, very important new websites that all artists need to know about, perhaps some more interview stuff, and an additional reference section of places to check out! Also, I’ll have to mention that some of the original material, such as my recommendation for using ninjavid.net is no longer valid, seeing that the U.S. Government seized their website, shut them down and are in the process of suing the bejeezus out of them for all sorts of copyright infringement. All good things must eventually come to an end. There’s always that legally-murky river of torrents out there…
But I digress.
The 2011 SAG Addendum, hopefully, will be out on January 1st, 2011, in keeping with the one year anniversary of the “official” release of the book. It will probably be free to download, but I will certainly allow you to purchase a physical copy for around $4 on lulu.com. Future purchases of the original book will contain the addendum at the back of the book.
So, with that out of the way, I wanted to help give some motivation about creativity and how to inspire it, seeing as it seems to be flowing pretty well for me these days . So here are five ways to inspire your own creativity!

Learn

The Dali Llama states in his book “The Art Of Happiness” that in order to lead a happy life, one must constantly be learning. Working with children, it’s easy to see that the happiest people on earth are always learning. But soon after doing the required time in school, college and perhaps even grad school, there seems to be a tired glaze over most peoples eyes when the subject of learning comes up. It must be some strange brainwashing program that comes on late at night when people fall asleep to the television fuzz.

But I’m not telling you to learn something you don’t want to.

It starts with a spark of interest: I want to learn how to play tennis, or chess, or how to make a Tur-Duck-Hen, or I want to be able to sew. I hadn’t ever considered teaching a sculpture class until I was asked to do so, to which I was happily enthusiastic about the chance to get my hands dirty. A few youtube videos later and I can teach it!
To learn brings continued meaning in your life. It might be learning about your partner, learning something about a friend, learning a fact or figure, or even learning something about yourself. I recently decided that I wanted to learn how to read music. I’ve played guitar for over ten years, and I still don’t know how to play sheet music. I’ve always taken the easy way out, opting instead for just learning chords, or worse, tablature. After reading the quote from the Dali Llama, I realized that to learn how to play notated music would add value to my own musical ability and creativity. By not ever taking the time to learn how to read sheet music, I have limited my own ability substantially. But now that I’ve decided to grow by learning how to actually read notation, I’ve found myself more and more passionate about playing music than ever before. Sure, playing “jingle bells” might not be glamorous at first, but who cares?! It’s fun to learn how to actually play by reading it.
Many people feel like it’s too late to learn something like this; that there’s no reason to learn something as frivolous as guitar at age 25 or 30 or 40 or 50 years old. But the only person to make such a statement is yourself. In the end, it’s a personal decision. Grandma Moses didn’t learn to paint until she was 80 years old! So put down your assumptions, pick up your real passion in life (the one you’ve always dreamed about) and start doing what you love to do!

Explore

I haven’t always been as outgoing as I am today. I still love living a life of secrecy, the one that only I know about, (walking, biking, or traversing the countryside on my moped without my head attached to a phone) but when I am with people, I’m always the first that’s ready for a shared adventure. Going to the same bar or club or restaurant or shop or mall or thrift store or bookstore et al. might feel comfortable, but it can get boring. Much less boring is to find a bit of excitement in your life. It can be as simple, in the city at least, as taking a different route to work than normal, trying a new restaurant or even just going for a walk without any real destination. I don’t believe that a daily routine is a totally bad thing, but to do so is to give yourself a self-imposed limit on what you can and cannot do, which is a drain on inspiration.
Start small and dream big.

Absorb

I’m inspired by strong characters. Two of my favorite comedians alive today are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Both have a charisma that cannot be faked or duplicated. Thus, they are like beacon lights of creativity, relevance and honor in the artistic community as far as I am concerned. I’ve seen the Daily Show taped live, which was an unforgettable experience, I’ve gone to book signings by both, and I watch their shows on a near religious basis. Why do I do this?
Great artists not only have the ability to create genius, but also the ability to light the candle of creativity within other like-minded people. Consequently, in enjoying and absorbing their message, a part of it comes out within my own work. Laughter and hope are tremendously helpful in opening the mindspace for creativity. To see someone else at the peak of their artistic power is an enabler for the next generation of artists.

Relax

The world will not end tomorrow. I know this because I’m not insane. It’s been in this orbit for the last 500,000,000 years with relatively little change, save a change in land position. Neither of us will see the apocalypse. It simply won’t happen. People who want you to buy something from them might try to convince you that the world will end (matches? Flashlight? Hot pockets?) but chill out, duder. This goes the same for the end of civilization. Just won’t happen. People like indoor plumbing too much. If things suck for you now, don’t worry. It’ll be okay. So what if they turn the internet off at your apartment because you haven’t paid them? Go down the street to the nearest cafe and suck on their wireless for a bit until you can cough up the money to pay off the last bill. You’ll probably even meet a friend or two down there from the whole ordeal.
It’s also not a big deal if you don’t have an Oscar for acting at 24 years old, or a hit screenplay, or even a working air conditioner. No one said that the artist’s life is easy. I’ll tell you what is easy, though: buying a $6 12 pack of Miller High Life down at your local CVS. Now that’s what I call value! Just have a few beers (not all, though) and relax. Put in a movie and just wait out the shit storm. No one said you’d have it all over night. Worse comes to worse, you’ll try again tomorrow.

Release

No art is complete without being released into the world. Even this little blog post had to be released. There was no fanfare, no party, not even a celebratory beer, (yet!) but it was released to this world for whatever value it has. Hopefully, if anything, a few people will read it, some might even chuckle once or twice, and they will know that I tried to give them a few small pearls of wisdom based on my own experiences. Just like having sex is no fun without an orgasm, your work needs to be released in order for it to be art. Does a tree fall in a bookstore if no one is around to read it? Nope.

Release is also the best way to describe how you should feel about the reception of your work. Not everyone will like your story, or book, or blog post, or hanging 10 foot sculpture of a penis-foot! Best case scenario, a lot, but not all people, will like what you do. In the words of Steven Speilberg, “It’s hard to make a film. It’s damn near impossible to make a great film.” Just do what you love to do and be around for the after party. Release your fear, and then release your art.

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