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Creative Inspiration

The Guardian posted an article which featured contributions from twenty artists working in different mediums on where they find their inspiration - top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration. It got me thinking about where inspiration comes from and what you can do to help it.

So, a few thoughts...

  • If an idea keeps on coming back to you, you should probably do it.

  • Equally if something scares you, you should probably do it. My best pieces of work have been ones where just before performing I have thought - I can't believe I'm letting myself do this/why did I put this idea forward. Trust that instinct.

  • Think about what angers/frustrates you and what excites you. Let that inspire you.

  • See as much performance as you can, or whatever the equivalent may be for your artistic medium. Theatres often do student deals and don't forget there are archives you can visit for free. If you contact the Live Art Development Agency you can spend time in their study room accessing video materials. Also the National Theatre have an archive of materials that you can access via request. The website only lists video footage of shows going up to 2004 but they actually have videos up to the present. This is good for research but also just for getting to see performances, and for free!

  • Following on from the previous point, let what you see inspire you. Don't let it overwhelm you. The art you are looking at has been probably been made by people who have been doing what they are doing for years. Of course you are not at their standard, you are just starting out. Remember What Nobody Tells Beginners.

  • Don't just take inspiration from within your own artistic medium. Just because you act/write/direct within theatre, don't just read plays. Read novels, poetry, non-fiction books. These are just as inspiring, if not more so sometimes.

  • Read the newspaper, whether in print or online, and watch the news.

  • One of the points that rang particularly true from The Guardian article is that no one reads your first draft. So write and write and write, or improvise yourself silly, etc. Then review what you have done and edit. As Antoine de Saint-Exuper said: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

  • Editing is something I often find much harder than writing. Find someone you trust to help you with this process. Alternatively, leave plenty of time after finishing something to revise and edit, so you can look with a fresh, objective eye. Also never take offence when someone suggests you edit something out. It may be wonderful, but the overall piece may be structurally better without. Hold onto it, it may be useful in the future.

  • Work out when you work best and stick to that. Just because your favourite writers do their best work in the morning, it doesn't mean that you will.

  • Always, always carry a notebook/phone round with you. When you sit down to write/enter a rehearsal space you often don't feel filled with inspiration, it'll be when you're sitting on a bus/doing any other mundane, day-to-day activity.

So what did you think of The Guardian's list? What helps you be creative?