• Dan Workman

Therapy for Creatives, Part 16: Inspiration

Updated: Jan 29



There are four components to the creative process: time, talent, tools, and inspiration. The 'Three T's, time, talent, and tools, are conceptually easy to understand.


The 'Three T's'

· Time is essential. While the inspired thought may only take a second, it occurs in contrast to the conscious or subconscious time that it took to get there. Manifesting creative output takes time.

· Talent can be either nascent (born with fantastic balance, an ear for tones, or an ability to visualize) or developed (the 10,000 hours of lessons and practice described by Malcolm Gladwell.)

· Tools are necessary for all aspects of manifesting creativity. The obvious examples are musical instruments, artists' brushes, pens, computers, yarn, etc. It's fun to try to find the exception, such as the storyteller who shares made-up tales, but in that case, we'll call his mind, mouth, and ears' tools.'


The fourth component is the precursor to the Three T's: Inspiration. Without inspiration, there is no motivation to develop talent, devote the time, and use the tools.


What Is Inspiration?

According to Webster, 'inspiration' is:

1: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone

Where does the inspiration for your art come from? His paintings take/draw their inspiration from nature

2: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something

3: a good idea

She had a sudden inspiration. They would have the party outdoors! Deciding to have the party outdoors was sheer inspiration.


Being inspired is a welcome and necessary process from a mental health perspective. However, creatives who are uninspired often complain of 'being blocked.' An uninspired creative is at risk of becoming impatient and, at worst, may question their talent or the usefulness of their work. The worst case is despondency. That occurs when a creative begins to believe that inspiration will never return.


A lack of inspiration causes many degrees of negative emotional intensity. The creative with more than one talent can shift their efforts to a more fruitful task. On the other hand, if a creative block is severe enough, the creative's mental health can be significantly diminished.


Creatives become accustomed to making work and presenting it. In a way, this is almost a god-like power. The act of manifesting is the power to order the universe in a validating way. This leads to an understandable 'creative narcissism,' a state that the creative may start to take for granted and believe that 'they deserve.'


When power is blocked, intense negative emotions may follow, leading to depression, anxiety, or behavioral acting out. I think that the 'creative narcissistic wound' may play a significant role in emotional, cognitive, and behavioral dysfunction. Insight leading to awareness of this process can help the creative reframe what is happening and accept and resolve the block.




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