Ramsey Naja: Sometimes inspiration strikes. Today it’s gone on strike

Ramsey Naja is CCO at JWT MEA

I am feeling uninspired today, which is not the state you want to be in when the deadline for your column is looming and your editor is developing a fascinating skin condition commonly associated with anxiety.

But hey, in the creative sphere, the lack of inspiration is a common ailment. So much so, in fact, that traffic managers the world over could tell the abovementioned editor a thing or two about how to deal with his developing eczema. Indeed, it is the very fleetingness of inspiration that makes creative jobs as exciting as they are stressful.

Interestingly, psychologists have attempted to dissect the whole concept of inspiration, with some studies going as far as trying to measure it.

What transpires is that inspiration is divided into two simple categories: you can either be inspired by something or inspired to do something.

Frankly, I am none the wiser either way: when you’re stuck, you’re stuck, and no amount of intellectual deconstruction will help fill a blank sheet of paper and ease an even blanker mind.

The solution, however, lies elsewhere. The need for inspiration makes people try to force it, as if it were some bodily function that can be coaxed somehow by sheer willpower when, in reality, this makes things worse.

Personally, I believe that the answer lies in embracing the lack of inspiration and accepting what your mind tells you, which is, basically, to do something else.

This may sound defeatist, but when you have a mental block, letting go puts you in a reflective, thinking state. Psychologists would tell you that it is the point where the left side of the brain, the rational one, is in charge. The only thing you can do in that instance is what parents do with their children: get them tired.

One of the reasons why most creatives operate better at night is exactly because of this: come the evening, the sensible apparatus that helps you do things properly is so tired of you that it has no choice but to hand over to the madman.

This is why they say you should never take a decision at night – and why you should give your night-time creative work the overnight test. In fact, it is also why creatives are so bad with deadlines… and why I am now probably in a better shape to write a better column. Except that it is too late for that.

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