Thursday, 27 March 2014

Create a window for inspiration

"You can cultivate inspiration by creating a window for it. I tell my students to practice being inspired in various ways. For example, to look out the window as a composer. To look out the window as a painter. To look out the window as a writer, a novelist, and ask 'What are the things that you notice from these various perspectives?'. They’re states of mind. If you look out the window as a novelist, you might think of stories about people on the street. If you look out the window as a poet, you might try to capture a particular moment. As a composer it might be the rhythm or the patterns that inspire you. I do that exercise myself."

Bruce Adolphe - Composer
(from "The Muse that Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process" by Ann McCutchan)

Whilst reading Ann McCutchan's  book (referred to above), I was struck by the simplicity and power of Bruce Adolphe's 'looking out the window' exercise.

We all get into the habit of looking out at life from the same angle each day: our experiences, education, preoccupations and passions (and other such attributes) focusing our attention upon those things we believe are significant and important. After a while we do not even think to question or test our view of the world; our response to what we see becomes automatic, almost subconscious.

Most of the time this suits us well. It helps us deal with the routine of our day-to-day lives and make quick, common-sense assumptions and judgements that keep us safe, keep us in work, and keep us sane!

However, if we need to be creative our habitual view of things, our preferred window on the world, can cause us problems. It can restrict our view of what is happening in front of us. It can bring the shutters down, limiting the angles from which we can view things and blanking out new areas of interest upon which we could focus.

Using Bruce Adolphe's 'looking out the window' exercise can help us develop a more flexible, multi-angled and multi-focused view of the world. It can provide a cord with which we can pull the shutters from our thinking.

Get into the habit of creating a window for inspiration by, quite literally, looking out your home or office window from someone else's perspective. Use the perspectives mentioned above or choose others: your customers, your boss, a young unemployed person, a retired person, a homeless person, an environmentalist, a gardener, a cyclist, a pedestrian, a blogger, anyone you can think of, anyone who can help.

Pull the cord; raise the shutters and begin to notice what you begin to notice. How do the new things you see change your view? How could they help you? How could they help you do things differently?

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