After being in the ministry, writing, and content fields for a little while now, something has (finally) begun to dawn on me.
And just in time for the new year!
That something is this: I tend to live my creative life by inspiration. That is, my overall posture toward the creative work that I do has been one of waiting – waiting for the right idea, waiting for the right moment, waiting for the rush of artfulness to hit and then acting on it. And often, because of the unscheduled, inconvenient timing of such things, the “right moment” is actually quite wrong and the work feels strained and I am tired and the kids need me and I stayed up way too late and now the day is dragging.
The fact is, that rush of artfulness is exactly that: a rush. It’s a miraculous thing, the kind of thing that reminds creatives like us that, yes, we are still alive and, yes, life is still beautiful! A life without inspiration wouldn’t really be a creative life – and honestly, it wouldn’t be any life at all.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I have to get work done, I get it done. But in this sense, I teeter between inspiration and obligation, which leads to a less consistent kind of creative output. And a less than gratifying experience.
But there’s a missing ingredient in this picture: intention.
I’ve come to believe that intention is the key to harnessing inspiration and channeling it into the ordered, scheduled, structured realities of everyday life. Intention has a stretching effect on inspiration too – a little of it can go a long way if we consciously take that rush and apply it at just the right times and in just the right amounts. For instance, if I get hit with article ideas at 11pm, when it’s time to do some reading and then hit the hay, I can gratefully receive it, write a note or two, and hold onto it…waking up the next morning still riding that wave into a day of work. But if I rush to the keyboard to gush out a 1000 inspired words until 2am, what am I left with the next day?
And intention doesn’t just harness and direct inspiration – it actually creates spaces for it to happen in the first place. Instead of a “working all the time” mode of life that is common to those in creative fields, especially freelancing, intention refuses to choke out inspiration for the sake of constant obligation. It carves out hours that are off-limits, hours that lead to creative reconnection, recalibration, and renewal. This might involve prayer, meditation, reading – but in any case, it doesn’t involve obligation.
Jesus seemed to demonstrate this pairing of inspiration and intention in his creative life and ministry. He was a brilliant speaker and teacher, bringing never-before-seen realities into existence with his words, delighting and exhilarating his followers. And yet, he retreated, often, to be alone with the Father, to pray, to seek wisdom for the next creative step.
And then he got back to work.
The breakthrough I am hoping and praying for in 2015 is to be intentional in my creative life so that inspiration can occur more often and have a greater impact on more of what I do. I am hoping to create content that matters, form connections that give life, and make an impact that sustains. Perhaps this is a goal you might apply to your creative life this year too.
Sustaining inspiration is much better than just acting on the rush. And creating room for inspiration is so much better than being stifled by constant obligation.
Let’s resolve to live this year by inspiration AND intention!
The title photo for this post is by Brian Cason, lead creative for Clayton King Ministries. So inspired by this image! Check out Brian’s beautiful Instagram feed, and his spot on VSCO. If you’re interested in collaborating with him, hit him up via email.