Inspiration is Unnatural

by Alexandre Leclerc

“They were able to compose only by bringing themselves to attacks of inspiration, an extinct form of epilepsy.” Yevgeny Zamyatin in We.

“[Goethe] leaned down, opened the drawer, and found a pile of rotten apples. The smell was so overpowering that he became light-headed. […] Schiller had deliberately let the apples spoil. The aroma, somehow, inspired him, and according to his spouse, he ‘could not live or work without it.'” Goethe, cited in Odd Type Writers

Inspiration isn’t just a fickle mistress, it’s also an unnatural mental state. It’s an intoxication that disrupts the normal functions of the brain. It’s accompanied by a release of endorphins and dopamine, producing a sense of euphoria and invincibility in the artist and making the whole experience addictive.

Once the effects wear out, the victim is left deflated with a sense of guilty elation. Then, withdrawal kicks in with a bout of “the blues”.

The victim will then actively seek out inspiration through various methods, both rational, like reproducing the setting in which inspiration struck, and irrational, like calling upon the forces of the occult, and everything in between, with various degrees of failure. Others will simply wait for inspiration to strike again, which can take from days to months, and longer.

A more reliable way to get your fix is to work for it. Start creating without inspiration, and it will eventually manifest itself spontaneously. Creation breeds inspiration. More so than the other way around.

Inspiration isn’t all that fickle when you get to know her.