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How to Find Inspiration

Andrew Huang

By Andrew Huang

This article originally appeared on Andrew Huang's blog

Andy on my Facebook page suggested I write about finding inspiration — and what better way to start a blog about music and creativity than the very starting point of creating music. Today I want to talk about three different ways to approach finding inspiration, and in my next few posts I’ll go into detail with some tips and techniques I’ve discovered about each one.

First let’s recognize that inspiration is much broader than the notion most people have of it. It’s not always a lightning bolt that strikes you out of nowhere — though those eureka moments can be great when they happen. I still remember the afternoon that two great songs came to me almost in their entirety, and both at the same time. I was jumping back and forth between playing and writing each one, afraid that pieces would be forgotten. Because of that incident, I felt compelled to pair them in title — Love #1 and Love #2.

But that’s not an occurrence you can frequently count on, and anyway, I experience inspiration much more often in these other ways. I believe these can show up more in your creative life too if you’re attuned to them, and I’ve even given them cute little names to help you remember.

Inspiration by exposure — “Look Farther”

When you happen to (or make yourself) experience something new, you put yourself in a position where you’re much more likely to make creative discoveries. I wouldn’t expect to have too many amazing ideas arrive out of the blue if every day you have the same routine of going to work, rushing through meals, clicking around online and going to bed. You’ve gotta shake things up, go outside, get uncomfortable.

Inspiration by examination — “Look Closer”

Unless you’ve been locked in an empty room for a prolonged period of time, I think you can find inspiration all around and within you at almost any moment. It’s not that interesting ideas are hard to come by — you just need to actively filter out the extraneous and boring stuff to see them.

Inspiration by combination — “Look Two Places at Once”

Creativity is all about making connections, and music usually involves more than one thing happening at a time. If you’re stuck in your work, or want to come up with something different than you normally do, being open to combining two or more ideas from disparate or unexpected places can often spark something awesome.

I’m excited to share about my methods over the coming weeks, but in the meantime, what about you? Have you experienced inspiration in different ways? Do you have tricks for sparking new ideas or getting out of a writing rut?

Learn more about how Andrew approaches making music in his free Soundfly course, Making Music from Everyday Items!

Andrew Huang, SoundflyAndrew Huang is a Toronto-based musician working in a huge range of genres. He is best known for performing absurd musical feats on YouTube — watch him rap in five languages, use fruit to control music software, or play a song with only balloons as his instruments. He is the instructor of Soundfly’s free course for Ableton Live, Making Music with Everyday Items.

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  • Ian

    I like that “inspiration by combination” thought. Not sure I’ve really considered that one too much. Like, adding a guitar solo from a metal song to your new classical piece but played on the flugelhorn.

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