Arts Creativity

Start before you’re ready 


Inspiration is not a prerequisite for creativity. In fact, it confounds what making things is all about—a dedication to the craft. If you only work when you’re inspired, you’ll get nothing done. Inspiration doesn’t strike all day, nor should you have to build it up to get started.

Do the work

Inspiration can be a distraction. Seeking motivation becomes an excuse to avoid the hard work. Producing something original requires concentration and distance. Roger Smith is a watchmaker at Hodinkee on the remote Isle of Man, far away from Switzerland and Cupertino.

“The influences just aren’t around, and I can just get on with my days work and just make what I want to make.” — Roger W. Smith

In an interview with Benji B, Thom Yorke of Radiohead said he doesn’t listen to anything else while making an album—he’s completely engaged in the creative process. Focusing on producing his own music distances himself from the temptation of finding the next interesting sound.

Making is an accumulation of what you already know. If you have good taste, you should be able to pull from outside influences and recast them in your own style. Taste finds a way of making it into your craft.

A professional doesn’t need more fire in their belly to get to work. Rather, art is a discipline that flows with a creative habit. The question is: what are you going to do with all that inspiration? The short answer is to start before you’re ready.

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close


“Inspiration is for amateurs”

Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.

Chuck Close

Inspiration strikes when you do the work, not when you wait for it to come.

Seeking inspiration is an excuse for inaction. It’s the reason why so many of us start but never finish.

What you need instead of inspiration is a willingness to be ruthless and consistent about an idea.

Productive people are a bit mad and selfish for a reason. They don’t want to wait for the rest of the world to push them or agree with them. They want to make their own contributions right now.

This present moment is all we have. The more you do in it, the more you have to play with and refine. The endless need for output and perfection are true inspirations that drive the need to ship something that matters.