Stay Inspired by Brandon Stosuy

Finding Motivation for Your Creative Work

"Everything is derivative. Everything has been done in some form, some way before. Once you accept that then you're free. You can stop looking over your shoulder or furiously combing the Internet to make sure your exact iteration is unequivocally unique" 
— Carly Ayres


Can we all agree that it's just awful to experience a lack of motivation, inspiration, and creativity? As a writer, I often face the grim reaper called writer's block. I never quite know when it's going to hit, how long it will last, or how many times I will write, delete, and then rewrite the same words repetitively until I finally feel I've settled on something that I feel is worth setting free in the world.

There are times when it's just so damn hard to find the words, then there are other times when they just come pouring right out of me. Before picking up this book, I was having one of those moments where I doubted myself and my skills as a writer. I laid my eyes on the six books on my table, and felt a pang of dread, rather than the usual excitement, about having to read, and write about those books.  Included in that pile of books was Stay Inspired by Brandon Stosuy. 

Brandon lets us know in his intro that "there's a stereotypical notion of "inspiration." He describes that in that situation you might be struck by an idea and creativity flows from you. It's never happened to him, and I thought until reading this that it happened to me quite often. Diving deeper, Stosuy says "inspiration is more complex and complicated than that, and usually not quite so dramatic."

He suggests removing the idea of inspiration as this thing that's going to happen to you, and to otherwise look at it as something that you can make happen.

The first thing I found helpful in this book was the notion of using signposts to help you figure out where to go in life. When referring to these signposts, Brandon says, "If you keep following them, you'll discover a world of like-minded people and creative possibilities beyond your imagination."

I was hooked after reading that.

Stay Inspired is broken into four chapters, with each one representing a different way of coming up with ideas then building on them. The chapters are: Background & Beginnings, Idols & Influences, Curiosity & Research, and Community & Collaboration.

Within the Curiosity & Research chapter, I found one part that really resonated with me. The idea of researching something that is the opposite of what you like. Brandon explains, "think about ways to counterbalance your dominant interests, activities, or point of view. This could be as simple as taking a different route to work or listening to the news from a different media source." 

Two things immediately came to mind for me: I recently started listening to audiobooks after dismissing them for so long, and I liked them so much that I listen to them 30% of the time instead of reading. The second was that I started reading humour, after also not paying it much attention over the years. And you know what? I loved it and now have a section of my blog just for humour.

When I put this book down, my mind was just brimming with ideas. And I'm my no means saying that to try to sell you a book, because I bought this one myself. I genuinely felt my brain revving up while reading this one. By the time I finished, I had several things written down, many pages bookmarked and highlighted, and the cherry on top was that I felt pretty darn good about it, too. 

As well as what I've mentioned above, Stay Inspired also includes exercises to spark inspiration and creativity. Stosuy also asks the reader a ton of questions, and I found it useful to sit down with a pen and piece of paper, and write my responses. And I don't mean pulling out your phone and tapping on your notes, I mean old-fashioned writing. 

I found I was able to truly draw out a road map of where I'm at right now and could visualize the various signposts in my mind, working out my path to where I want to be. 

Overall, I found this an extremely helpful book. I can't attest to how long I will stay inspired, but I can honestly tell you that I felt inspired while reading, and my mind is still thriving well afterwards. 

Brandon Stosuy
is the cofounder and editor in chief at The Creative Independent, the cofounder of the annual Basilica Soundscape festival in Hudson, NY, the cofounder of Zone 6 Artist Management and Gallery, and has been a music curator at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles and at MoMA PS1 in New York City. He is also the author of two children’s books: Music Is and We Are Music.

Stay Inspired is available in paperback at Indigo and in e-book format on Kobo. Check Abrams for additional retailers.