Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 11, 2012 4:31 PM

The Trick With Inspiration

Believe it or not, you're constantly being inspired.

The trick with inspiration is being able to both acknowledge that moment and act on it when it happens. I was reminded of this earlier in the week. I was listening to Howard Stern interview Chris Martin from Coldplay (it was a repeat from earlier in the year). Martin was talking about how the hit song Yellow came to him. He said it happened very quickly - in maybe fifteen minutes. He was in the studio, messing around with his acoustic guitar and doing impersonations of Neil Young in between takes, when the line "Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you." came out in Young's quirky tone. He kept at it... "And everything you do. Yeah, they were all yellow." Something felt right, so he kept tinkering with the guitar chords and melodies and that's when the part, "Your skin, oh yeah, your skin and bones" came along. He told Stern that he knew it was a hit once it was written and the other members of Coldplay had their way with it.

Do you have that kind of courage?

There is a lot of mind space in between Martin's explanation. You have to have a serious ability for self-inflection to be able to recognize that what was, initially, a goof on Neil Young could be the germ of something more. Pushing it and letting the melody take you somewhere is the hardest part. This isn't about thinking up a great idea in a dream but not writing it down and then forgetting it by the time you wake up, this is about what happens to you - day in and day out - on a conscience level. It could be from staring out of your window or from reading this blog post. Inspiration is everywhere and one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself is the ability to acknowledge it. Not every moment of inspiration will be a hit song like Coldplay's Yellow, but you just never know where it will come from.

Inspiration is (not) magic.

It may look, feel and act like magic, but it's a very real proactive acknowledgement of something - usually something quite small - that can take you to strange and beautiful places. I'm thankful that there are artists like Chris Martin who act as reminders that inspiration is not a flash of genius or something that just pops into someone's head. Our brains are constantly spurting thoughts out there and it's important - especially in the work that you do - to be cognizant when than thought is something that can be turned into something that is much bigger and brighter.

By Mitch Joel


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