At Wonderkind, we love inspiration. We love to be inspired, and we love inspiring others. We’ve been talking about it for the last few months, since it’s even our word for the year. Some things inspire more than others, like a sunrise or a beautiful song, while other things might seem peculiar as an inspiration for one person while it makes perfect sense to someone else, like how cycling inspires me, or how cranberry juice inspires one of my employees.
Within this discussion in the creative world, we see a lot of different philosophies about the creative process. There are some who seem to be able to do everything on the spot, who improvise everything, and this is what they swear by to be inspired for their own creativity. As an old friend of mine used to say during our school days, “If you wait till the last minute to do something, it only takes a minute.” On the other end of the spectrum, there are others who take a more disciplined approach, who painstakingly pre-plan every aspect of any creative endeavor, and this works best for them. And, of course, there are all of us in between.
Whatever part of the spectrum you fall on here, I think you would agree with me that when it comes to the topic of being inspired, of having “inspiration,” that so many of our ideas of this desirable quality reside in the quick and spontaneous. It’s almost as if we’ve made synonyms from “spontaneity” and “inspiration.” And while creating works of art on the fly is really enjoyable, we would be doing no justice to ourselves or our art if we only tried to create like this. And since, here at Wonderkind Studios, we take inspiration as super important, we like to ask ourselves how we can better create, and if routine has a helpful role in the process.
As I see it, there are three main ways that routine inspires.
First, inspiration is not bred in a vacuum. Nothing is truly original. What I mean here is that we cannot help but be influenced by the work we’ve seen and enjoyed, and no new technique is more than just a novel combination of two things that came before it. We must be constantly working and researching, in a routined and disciplined way, to be constantly exposing ourselves to new ways of thinking and doing. It’s easy to think that the great thinkers or great artists are just wonderfully gifted, and that Kanye West or Alfred Hitchcock were just born to make dope rhymes or suspenseful films, but in reality, its a daily, lifelong journey that gets us where we are going, and without the consistent and deliberate attempt to create and research, making a routine of our greatness, inspiration will be sparse, and most likely less effective. We are able to spontaneously create because we have been exposed repeatedly, in our subconscious, to the things we love and wish to emulate– or hate and wish to improve– and so we combine elements in our mind, practicing our own work, quietly judging our own efforts with love or hate as well, as we curate our taste, our passions, and our skills, so that we arrive at the spontaneous genius of the moment. But only because that moment was built on the millions before it.
Second, routine and discipline create the skills and talent necessary for beautiful acts of inspiration to take place. Without discipline and practice, there is no framework for the inspiration to take root, to actually be created. As a filmmaker, if I have any sort of sudden inspiration for a song, I have no ability to make the song, and so the inspiration dies within minutes! But, if I knew how to write and compose and perform a song, my skills would carry my excitement through to execution. And so, as a filmmaker, I must practice and refine my filmmaking skills so that when I am tasked by others or have my own ideas, I have the ability to make something, to execute. Routine inspires by giving rise to the skills necessary for execution.
And third, perhaps most importantly, if we want to be more than just a one-hit wonder, we must have routine and discipline so that we can be in a constant mindset of inspiration and excellence. As the cliche says, the mind is a muscle, one that weakens with long times of laziness. If we are not trying to create, we will do it less. Our minds are always dwelling on something, and the more they dwell on useless and distracting things, the less they are inspired. Even if our mind is spectacularly genius, we will have squandered our potential.
As the book “The 12 Week Year” says it (to paraphrase), we must structure our time to do greatness both in the final product and in what we do on a daily basis. We must be looking for the little things that foster inspiration throughout our days and weeks to reach the major inspirations of our lifetimes. Routine inspires through gathering ideas and experiences that bring us to inspiration, by giving us a skillset and framework to fit our newly inspired ideas into, and to give rise to a lifetime of being inspired. What a privilege it is to make art and inspire for a living.