The wisdom of Gwen Stefani

Sometimes it’s so hard to find what it is I’m trying to say. People might think you can turn creativity on and off, but it’s not like that. It just kinda comes out. A mash-up of all these things you collect in your mind. You never know when it’s going to happen, but when it does, it’s like magic. It’s just that simple, and it’s just that hard.

(You can watch Gwen’s commercial on HP’s website here.)

She’s got it, man. I mean, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into “creativity,” but you can’t make a fire without a spark, no matter how hard you rub those two sticks together.

Some days there are more sparks than others. Some days there are no sparks at all. (Those days stink.) Some days there are tons of sparks, but I’m too busy rubbing those two sticks somewhere else (work, sleep, relationships, self) that I miss out. I think that’s what I hate the most: inconvenient inspiration.

It used to happen to me all the time in class. In fact, I get most of my ideas “when I shouldn’t.” When I was in school, that meant I was scribbling in my journal instead of taking notes on double integrals, or the Battle of Gettysburg, or the function of the amygdala. Some of those ideas panned out — in fact, I’m still working on some of them now — but a lot didn’t. But that doesn’t matter, because they were coming hard and fast, and it was fun.

I don’t get as many ideas anymore. I think it’s because my mind isn’t being as stimulated, at least not in as many different ways as it was when I was taking a breadth of courses with a diversity of people. I thought maybe it would happen at work: inspiration would strike right in the middle of a call with a client! I’d have to covertly scribble my thoughts in the midst of my project notes! My boss would wonder why I suddenly looked so happy, and I’d have to say that I was just really excited about next round of proofreading!

But what’s worse than having to cover up my inspiration is not getting it at all.

Okay, I do still get ideas. It’s not like I’m a dried-up well (pardon the cliché) or a has-been at age 22. (God I hope not.) But I think I need more stimulation. Work is pleasant, but it’s routine. I need to be confronted by knowledge, moved to tears, astounded by reality.

So what’s my plan for now?

Watch PBS.

Honestly! I don’t know if it’s a real solution, but it’s a start. Watching PBS, reading the news, listening to people… it’s all about the stories. The people, the places, the real emotions that we feel and deal with. The more I take in, the more I “mash up” (to use Gwen’s phrase). The more I take in, the more I can spit out. And polish. And shine.

And man do I want to shine.