For the last few months I’ve been living an experiment, and it’s consistently proving me right.
There are certain places on the Internet that are supposed to be inspirational or inspiring. Tumblr, Pinterest, Hacker News and others come to mind, along with endless blogs and websites aggregating works by various people. Amazing works. Designs, paintings, foods, contraptions, lifehacks – things so beautiful and clever you gaze in awe and almost get jealous you didn’t get the same idea earlier.
Thing is: endlessly watching stuff done by other people is actually anti-inspiring. Flooding your head with other peoples’ ideas and works doesn’t spark new ones; it stifles them. The more creative work you consume, the less you produce; not the other way round.
It’s hard to grasp, but it’s there. What you see on all those blogs are products of lots of thinking and hard work. Compared to the final result, even your most clever idea will seem small, almost silly – simply because the work done is the difference. The key is not to aspire to make something as excellent as others’ – it is, instead, to take your idea to a place not influenced by others and work on it alone.
This is one of the very reasons most artists and craftsmen have their refuges, workshops and ateliers. As much as inspiration is important, it’s equally important to know when to stash it away, isolate from it and be all alone with your work. The real satisfaction doesn’t come from creating idea; it comes from materializing it. This is the work – the hard work – that has to be done. This is the work you have to do alone, and every single person or thing supposed to help or aid you will probably just get in the way instead.
The most surprising thing is: the most inspiring things are those you’d never call inspiring at all. The real things. Not pictures. Not books. Not the countless bright colored junk you find all over the internet. The best inspiration comes from new people, events, things and conversations.
The most straightforward way to spark a new idea in your head is to try something you haven’t tried before.