Inspiration is for amateurs

mosdefMos Def gave an interview at the end of a performance with K’Naan on Austin City Limits not long ago. (You can view the episode here and the interviews here.) Apparently this was the first hip hop episode for the venerable country-cum-Americana-jam/hippy-band show. It was also the first time I heard such a genuinely honest response by a creative mind to the all-too-common question of inspiration.

You could see Mos Def hesitate at first. A self-censored moment where he wondered if a transparent answer would somehow mitigate the fantasy we put around artists in the entertainment industry – the necessary fantasy for him and those like him to sell records and fill concert halls. But he came through, mos def:

b2_quoteTo quote my good friend Malik Sayeed*, he said ‘Inspiration is for amateurs’… to quote Octavia Butler, she said: ‘Habit is more reliable than talent.”

A few days after the airing, Seth Godin posted some random rules for creating ideas worth spreading. One of them:

b2_quoteWaiting for inspiration is another way of saying that you’re stalling. You don’t wait for inspiration, you command it to appear.”

Marketing requires acumen. The creative mind works with a process. People who change their life after layoffs worked hard to get there. Creating content requires a discipline. Businesses may be inspired, but they fail to grow if they rely on passion.

Inspiration? It’s the spark. Transforming your inspired idea into action? Seems to me that’s the work of professionals.

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* I’m actually not sure who he was talking about. You can make your own assumptions with a Google search, like I did.