Controlling Overwhelming Inspiration

Archive for October, 2011

Do What You Say

Here’s a little problem I’ve noticed that has been hindering, not only my struggle against over inspiration, but in general time management: doing what you say you are going to do.

Apart from those times when plans just fall through, when the unexpected changes your plans, or when plans are just inherently infeasible, it’s important to do the things you said you would do. It’s just as important to your self as it is to others. In general, everyday life this is important because else people will begin to distrust you or think you’re flaky. In your personal, mental life though, it’s even more important because the moment you begin to fall into that rut of cancelling plans or opting out of things you said you do for yourself, it becomes increasingly harder to not keep “flaking out” and ultimately you will never be able to control those over inspirational times that keep you distracted. It’s imperative to learn how to set things aside, however tempting they may be, to do what you need to do. Like I said in my Hierarchy of Priorities, Once you know what you want in life and where you need to begin heading in your life to achieve it, you have to be willing to temporarily set aside those larger goals to get past where you are. The same principle holds here,¬† letting go of those immediate temptations is key to achieving an over all wellness.

This is not always as easy as it sounds. I’ve been trying to get out of this rut for a while now and the longer I stay in it, the worse the consequences become. They’ve stopped just affecting my personal work and have now began affecting the work and time of people close to me, and that isn’t acceptable. I don’t have a solution or an easy way of getting over this, but I’m finally able to fully admit that it’s a large detriment in my life. If you have any suggestions that have helped you, let me know… I’m a bit stumped myself.

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My Personal Hierarchy of Priorities

So I stated in my first post that there isn’t much advice to be found on overcoming inspiration overload save for superficial advice we’ve heard our whole lives like, “time management.” I feel like I should clarify that I am not dismissing this advice, I’m simply stating that it’s not enough. Most every one would agree, or I hope would agree, that time management is important in most things and that other advice like it is equally an important step in organizing your life. I only say it’s superficial in the respect that it’s an easy go-to advice that most people with this problem already turned to before looking for more.

That being said however, don’t think that this kind of advice is something that should be over looked. Time management is the first step you should begin taking when trying to solve your own personal struggle with having too many ideas. More so is the importance of setting your priorities. If this is something that you have neglected however, here’s a simple guide to help you sift through your ideas to find which ones you can dismiss or put off until later, and which ones you should focus on.

Finding Your Hierarchy of Priorities:

1. What are your passions in life?

You are probably a very passionate person if you are experiencing an overwhelming amount of inspiration. Break those passions down into their most basic forms and lump them together in groups. For example, if you’re passionate about painting, design, drawing, cinema, music, instruments, and movie scores, you can probably break it down to a passion in visual and auditory arts. Overwhelming yourself with every singular and specific passion only creates a larger maze to search through in your mind.

2. What can you do/want to do with those passions in your future?

Be realistic but not constricting. When you are Steven Spielberg’s age, what do you see yourself conceivably doing with what you love in life? Don’t limit yourself by insecurities or perceived boundaries at this point because goals have no boundaries as long as you are passionate and willing to work for them.

3. What can you do/want to do with those passions in your near future?

With what you have in your personal repertoire right now, what can you do with these passions and which ones can you do most with? At the point you are in right now, you may not be able to do all that you want in life with all of your passions, but I’m willing to bet that there are a couple that you can start working on if not now, very soon. Don’t be afraid that choosing a music path at this very moment will cut you off from walking a visual arts path in the future. Regardless of your end goal, you have to start somewhere. Finding the path to the end is what life is about, but before you can do anything you have to realize that the paths are many and will open up more the further you travel.

4. What do you need to do to start focusing on your passions more?

If you’re like me, you need to get out of college first. For some this is easy, but for those of us who are too distracted with what you want to do and what you are passionate about it’s very hard to suffer the drones of required classes you have to pass first. If you are already out of college, what point in your life are you currently in and what direction do you need to begin heading to be able to focus more on your passions? This is the toughest part to get over because it means holding off on your dreams for a bit. It means you might have to submit to someone else’s goals before you can continue on to your own. And I don’t want to encourage anyone to just up and drop out of what you are doing, but there have been plenty of people who could suffer demeaning work or dead-end paths no longer and have just dropped out of that race to pursue their own more successfully. The late Steve Jobs dropped out of college and wound up revolutionizing how the world sees computing. But again, those choices are last ditch efforts and can also end poorly if not thought out well. Regardless of where you are in your life path though, at this point you are going to have to take some losses and do what you have to do to make for a better path in the future.

Young Steve Jobs

If only all college drop outs wore suits like that

Once you have these four steps down, the next and hardest part of all is actually doing it. Yes at times suffering through the immediate life can be tough, but if you’re tired of thinking about the great things you want to do, the only thing left is to start doing what you need to to get there. This is where I am. I’m a fifth year senior trying to finish up two majors and quite frankly it sucks, but the more I think about these four steps the better I begin to feel about my position because it puts my current place in life into a bigger whole that defines who I’m going to be… it’s just really hard to stay in that mindset.

As always, please let me know your thoughts about this post. If you feel that there is more to add tell me so. The more we talk about it, the more we’ll both think about it in our every day lives, and the better we will be at controlling the surge of inspirations that disconnect us from what we need to do.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

I recently found this TED talks video through a friend of mine who knows that I struggle with my over creativity and inspirations. What I gravitated to the most in the video is the part where she talks about poet Routh Stone about 10 minutes in and the musician Tom Waits at about 12:30. This video has helped me approach my inspirations in a different way that helps me, hopefully it will help you as well. Click the image below to watch the video.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

I love this idea that when these people get their surge of inspiration it’s normally in the most mundane of times, when they aren’t trying to be creative but when they are doing something almost mindless like working in their field or driving a car. This is something that relates to me a lot because the thing that kills my productivity more than anything is if I have to drive home from school. I know that I should be going home to do my work, but when I drive my inspirations always kick in the strongest and by the time I get home I no longer have any interest in the slightest to do my homework because I’m filled with ideas that I feel I must work on less they pass me by “to go find another poet.” After watching this one day, I had a similar rush of inspiration but I was supposed to be writing a paper. But instead of worrying about getting my ideas out before they left, I decided to take the same approach Mr. Wait took in his car and I told myself/my daimon/the wall to slow down and let me do my priorities first, “Can’t you see I’m driving?”

If you find yourself in this same situation, try Mr. Wait’s approach. You don’t have to believe in an existential creative force or a personal daimon for it to work. Do it sarcastically if you wish but try it out and see if it helps, then let me know how it worked for you in the comments below. And for those wondering, yes this video is where I took the name of this blog from.

Introduction

Hello and welcome to TamingDaimon, a blog used to document my personal progress as I try taming my own personal daimon and hopefully a way I can help others with the same problem. First of all, what exactly is a daimon? The ancient Greeks believed that people who were gifted with a specific insight into something, be it art or science, was not individually responsible for said insight. Rather they were bestowed this knowledge from a higher divinity they called a daimon. Daimon are essentially the same thing as the Muses (shown below) only seen as more of a personal spirit rather than a general deity.

the nine muses dancing around apollo

And apparently Muses dance a lot more.

That being said what do I mean be taming this daimon? Put simply, I mean learning to control having too much inspiration and creativity. Yes, I realize that most of you don’t see having too much creativity a bad thing and would probably give your less favorite appendage to have more creativity for work, but this inspiration and creativity overload isn’t the same thing as the inspiration you crave for work because it isn’t productive at all. Most of the time the inspirations come from the completely opposite direction you need it to come from, and when it does align with your work it’s too grandiose to suffer the tedious work required to get to finish or too fragmented to solidify in a single work.

The problem here is that inspiration overload is something that people have and is talked about, but is never quite resolved. There are ways to tell if you have it or are abusing the things that give you inspiration, but for as much as it is talked about I can’t find any conclusive ways to handle it other than the superficial answers we’ve all heard our entire lives like, “time management.” One reason may be that it commonly said that, “you can never have too much inspiration” and this leads to people thinking that they shouldn’t be upset at being overloaded, or that claiming so will make them seem “unworthy” of their gift. Personally, I’ve let myself get down about that very same argument. Why should I complain when so many others have trouble finding inspiration in the first place? After all, isn’t being creative good? Yes it is, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Watchu' know about bacon haters?

Except for bacon...

So after worry about this problem myself for some time, and being frustrated that I don’t know where to turn for help, I decided to make this blog to document my personal progress at taming this daimon in hopes that I can help others like me. I’m not promising that I’m going to fix myself or stumble upon some mysterious universal truth about how to handle the sea of ideas and inspirations that comprise the human race, but I do promise to give it my best shot and to let others know that they aren’t alone in this endeavor. If you’re reading this and struggling with inspiration and creativity overload as well, leave me a comment; let’s find a way to handle this together.

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