Inspiration is a funny thing.
It knows no boundaries. No obstacles, hindrances, limitations or hurdles.
You can see the thing you want to create in your mind and now you are on fire to make it happen.
When this happens to me, some little demon parked on my shoulder starts snickering.
“You know you can’t do anything until you have the right equipment. A new camera, some software, probably a new lightbox and oh, your drawing software is really lame. Get the latest thing out there or you’re going to look like a total amateur.”
Slowly, I can feel my self confidence sink and my anxiety levels soar. Instead of planting myself at my desk to work, I spend all my time angsting over my stuff. I postpone actually creating something and end up surfing the Internet for tools and equipment that I need to have before I do anything.
Days will go by. Packages will be delivered. Manuals pile up on my desk for me to go through. I spend hours trying to master my tools and inevitably tumble down the rabbit hole of endless applications and uses of these tools. I become a master of doing really cool things that I might end up using in my project.
And speaking of my project, it has now become a little less clear. I have to try and figure out how to use all my cool tools to create what I originally envisioned.
The Tyranny of Shiny Tools
This is a terrible dictatorship.
It happens when we let our self confidence in our creativity succumb to the shiny promise of tools. People who sell these tools prey upon this. They position themselves as purveyors of things that will help you create something but in actuality, they distract you from your goal by dazzling you with bells and whistles that really have less to do with what you want, and everything to do with what they want.
What You Really Need First
No matter what you dreaming of doing, there is only one thing you need in the beginning.
You need momentum.
Maybe you have trouble starting, maybe you have started but find it difficult to keep going.
Momentum is the great wave that will propel you through the good and the tough times.
If there was nothing around for miles except a stubby #2 Ticonderoga Dixon pencil and a legal pad, could you write your story? Jack Kerouac did it. And he was in a car.
If you were in that car and a melody popped into your head, do you think you could hum it into your phone?
If you stumbled across a bunch of wires, bits of wood and metal, could you put that all together into a sculpture? Like Alexander Calder?
Just start with what you have.
Get what you need when the need presents itself. You will be wiser and more knowing about the exact tool you want when you are actively making something.
Take back the power to create from the Merchants of Stuff. People are moved by the creative spirit behind a work of art, not the medium. Sometimes you get even more points for making something in spite of your limitations.
I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it. – John Lennon
I have a box in my room that I put things that I have accumulated over the years to help me write and illustrate my work. If more than 6 months go by and I haven’t used something, it goes into another box that eventually gets donated to Materials for the Arts or a school art program. My daily wrestle with that pesky little demon usually results in me defaulting to something I already have, usually old school and understandable.
And that works for me. All I truly need is my self confidence. And a pencil sharpener.