the conundrum of creativity

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon here in São Paulo. Gentle rains tap soothing rhythms outside my window and the streets are empty of their normal hustle and bustle. The dishes have been done, the laundry is folded and the bed is made, leaving me with a bit of precious free time. Now what?

Most of the time, I’m busy. And most of the time that I’m busy I’m also chanting the ‘If I only had more time I’d do more art, more music, more (fill in the blank) song. I dream of passing my days painting huge canvases while listening to music that fills me with creativity but, for some reason, when I do have a few hours to dabble in this fantasy, sometimes I just can’t get myself to do it. What the hell? Isn’t free time supposed to be the answer to my problem? Why then, don’t I feel like doing anything but watch sci-fi reruns and drink tea? If free time isn’t the secret, then what is?

The one possible answer that stands out in my mind is inspiration. After a full week of work, running errands, doing chores, putting out fires and general problem solving, I can’t really expect to be able to create a masterpiece in the first hour that I have to myself. All of those other activities have used up my creative fuel, my vital energy. If I want to keep going, I need to fill the tank again, I need to find inspiration within, or without of, myself. But with what? What kind of fuel do I take and does the type of fuel affect the end function? For example, if I want to be able to paint later tonight, what should I do now? Take a nap, do yoga, go to a gallery? Does it matter? Can you control creative inspiration or is it inevitably an aleatory process?

Apparently, it’s time to do a little empirical research. I’m going to spend the next few months exploring the source and effects of creative inspiration and plan to share my findings regularly on this blog. If anyone out there has any insight on this elusive creature, let me know!