And we come now to the third element of inspiration I’d like to discuss, tuning in to your inner signals. Here I have a question for you. As you’ve been listening to me in this course, you’ve undoubtedly encountered some ideas or suggestions that excited you, some that left you indifferent, and others that you doubted or weren’t sure were right for you. Now how did you know which were which? Exactly what happened in your mind or body to tell you how you felt about what I was saying?
Did words or pictures come into your mind? Did you feel a rush of energy for or against what I was saying? And in general, what are the idiosyncratic signals that tell you that you are intrigued, disappointed, resistant, or extremely inspired by a thought?
Erica Jong has said that she knows when a poem “is coming on” because the hair on the back of her head stands up. Other people say they feel light or their heart beats faster when they’re inspired, and feel draggy when they’re writing down something that’s wrong. I know when I’ve come up with an important idea when I keep saying to myself, “Wow, that’s so obvious – why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
Kathleen Lake, a playwright, and actress, says she’s noticed that when she’s working on a project and has a song running through her head that she can’t get rid of, the words of the song often hold a message for her work. Other people experience a sudden bloom of mental images when their creative fires are sparked. These signals can be very easy to miss. But simply reminding yourself to catch them, to listen or watch for them, to learn to recognize your very personal and unique inner signals will make a difference for you.
Ideas do come to you all the time, but you need to pay attention. Once you know how to tune in, you’ll be like Johann Sebastian Bach, the baroque composer. A child once asked him, “Papa Bach, where do you get your ideas?” And Bach answered, “My dear boy, it’s all I can do not to trip over them when I get out of bed in the morning.”
In the next lesson, you’ll learn about the precious resource you have in your unconscious mind, which always knows more than you know that you know.