Suspend Your Disbelief

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"Masturbate frequently."

Universe in a magic Drop

We hear a lot about how writers find their inspiration. But how about other creative artists? The Guardian surveyed contemporary musicians, dancers, directors, and architects to find out where they got their creative inspiration. Much of their advice is unexpected, yet would be useful to writers as well.

Here’s a sampler:

Guy Garvey, musician: Spending time in your own head is important. When I was a boy, I had to go to church every Sunday; the priest had an incomprehensible Irish accent, so I’d tune out for the whole hour, just spending time in my own thoughts. I still do that now; I’m often scribbling down fragments that later act like trigger-points for lyrics.

Tamara Rojo, ballet dancer: To be truly inspired, you must learn to trust your instinct, and your creative empathy. Don’t over-rehearse a part, or you’ll find you get bored with it. Hard work is important, but that comes before inspiration: in your years of training, in your ballet class, in the Pilates classes. That work is there just to support your instinct and your ability to empathise.

Rupert Goold, director: I always try to reshape my ideas in other forms: dance, soap opera, Olympic competition, children’s games, pornography – anything that will keep turning them for possibilities.

Sunand Prasas, architect: Ask off-piste questions. What if this library were a garden? If this facade could speak, would it be cooing, swearing, silent, erudite?

Polly Morgan, artist: Leave the house. Or better still, go to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and rescue a staffie. I did so partly to get out more, as I was spending too much time surrounded by the same objects, within the same walls. The sense of guilt I feel when my dogs are indoors forces me out at regular intervals. One of my favourite new ideas came about when I stopped to examine a weed growing in the forest I walk in.

Kate Royal, opera singer: Remember that art is everywhere. It’s amazing what you can find inspiring on the No 464 bus from Peckham.

And then there’s playwright Anthony Neilson’s advice, which I’ll let you decide whether to follow or not:

Masturbate frequently. You’ll probably do that anyway, but you may as well make it a rule.

Read the full list here, and tell us which parts you find helpful in the comments!

Further Reading:

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