a catInspiration is like a cat. It does not come to you when you call it. If you believe that you are its master for one minute, then you are mistaken. Looking for inspiration is a follicle exercise.

In my experience, there are a few obvious mistakes that should be avoided.

If you are looking for inspiration, you should not go to the works of those who inspire you. Crazy as it seems, this will not work. Under these circumstances, all you will end up with is a pale imitation of someone else’s genius.

This has happened to me on numerous occasions, when I have written songs as a direct response to another song that I have heard. Sometimes you will forget about the original source, and things will work out fine, as your crappy imitation becomes, in the long term, what you perceive as the de facto original. More likely, however, and I speak from experience, is that for the rest of your life you will be unable to sever the connection between the original art and your shoddy ripoff, and it will remain always as no more than an embarrassment.

In my opinion, the state towards which we strive should be one of not resembling our influences. If someone asks you who your musical influences are, and you say Coldplay, and your music sounds like Coldplay, then you might as well be a Coldplay covers band – at least it would be honest. I’ve always felt that the whole “musical influences” question is a dumb one anyway. On a personal note, one of my band’s songs was once described as “The Muppet Show meets Jamiroquai” so I’ve adopted this as my standard response *(to the “musical influences” question)*, even though it is completely unsuitable for the majority of our songs.

We *(by which I mean You)* sometimes make the mistake of assuming that big inspiration can only be contained within big things. Inspiration, like a modern sleeping bag, can be compressed down into an impressively small space. Next time you seek inspiration, try looking around you at small objects – about the size of a testicle – and see what pops out of them.

At the point at which you are so desperate for inspiration that you’ve come to a blogger for advice, I’d say that you’re not in a mental state that is conducive to the task. You have to bear in mind that there are two states, the “thinking” and the “doing”, and I’d bet tuppence that you’re in the “doing” state at the moment. Admit it.

Now that you’ve admitted it, here’s what you should do. Find a rucksack. Into it, put the following items:

* Pen
* Paper
* Pork pie
* Torch *(in case you find yourself staying out late)*
* Keys
* Mobile phone *(but turn it off – it’s only for emergencies)*
* Camera
* Beer money
* Binoculars

Put on suitable clothing, and go out for a walk. City or forest, it doesn’t matter. The brain has a valve which prevents it from digesting information at the same time as creating it. In 15 minutes, your mind will get accustomed to the fact that you’re not force-feeding it self-righteous bollocks written by a blogger with absolutely no relevant qualifications whatsoever, and it will switch from “doing” mode to “thinking” mode, or, if you prefer, from “suck” mode to “blow” mode.

Because, let’s be honest, right now, you suck.

8 replies on “Inspiration”

“Because, let’s be honest, right now, you suck.”

Brilliant. I love punchlines.

All my best ideas come in the car on the way to/from work.

Nonetheless, Tired Of You is a perfectly good song. Both the one you wrote, and that rip-off version by the Foo Fighters. I don’t mind that the two are connected, I like the interplay between songs, and I like spotting influences. Obviously in some cases, spotting an influence isn’t particularly hard, but I just think you liked the idea and re-did it your own way, which isn’t much different to recording an actual cover version in a different style, just that the creative part happens at an earlier stage.

The problem I have is that when inspiration strikes I immediately start trying to capture it lest it be lost in the recess of my awful memory.

So, I’m constantly flipping from suck to blow to suck to blow… no wonder I’m so out of breath… umm…

**Gordon** – but that’s the right way to do it. Blow mode is coming up with the ideas. Suck mode is the hard graft of bringing them to fruition.

**Karen** – sadly, it doesn’t matter whether Tired of You is good or bad. As long as I remember that it was so heavily based on another song, it will always be embarrassing, and something that I wish I could uncreate.

**Clare** – it wasn’t an intentional punchline. I was just aware that I had been blabbing for a while and needed to wrap up before it became apparent that I’d run out of ideas.

The strange thing is, whenever I hear one of them, I usually spend the rest of the day humming the other one. In my head, they are symbiotic. That’s a nice word, but it may not mean what I think it means.

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