Inspiration is not an alarm clock you can set

It’s more like a lightning bolt to your braces, or running into a screen door. Sometimes, it kicks in out of necessity, like punching a shark in the face when it has your leg its mouth. Or it knocks on your head at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday instead of letting you sleep – right after it kept you up until 2:00 a.m. the night before (or rather, “the morning of.”)

Because you can’t rely on  inspiration to come when you need it, write it down when it does hit. Especially, as Todd Henry of Accidental Creative puts it, in a “create on demand” environment, having a scratch file of ideas, headlines, concepts, visuals and anything else that comes to mind can be a useful tool when you need to pull something out of mid-air.

The beautiful thing about inspiration is that it’s often simple. Just a different way of looking at something. I’m currently reading Cutting Edge Advertising by Jim Aitchison. I’ve never been hooked by a book after only five pages, but this one did it. A few eloquent pages about writing and print as an advertising medium, and there I was. Determined to read on at 2:00 a.m.

Simplicity tends to be a theme in terms of inspiration. Invention, writing, design, cooking – often, they can all be improved by stripping back the layers of complexity. Not that well-thought, detailed and involved components can’t combine to create something inspiring (fans of the show ‘Lost‘ know exactly what I’m talking about), but clarity is key.

“My apologies for this letter being so long; had I more time, it would have been shorter.”

Pascal, French philosopher

So, let advertising, books, music, art, sports – anything – inspire you. Enjoy the rush that comes from a Eureka! moment. Hold on to it like Adam Sandler holds on to his water “from a glacier in Alaska…that’s been blessed by an Eskimo medicine man” in The Waterboy. You never know when you’ll need it.



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