Kim Lajoie's blog

Inspiration is for amateurs

by Kim Lajoie on January 12, 2013

Maria Popova, quoting Tchaikovsky:

There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.

Inspiration is necessary, but it is not beyond your control. You can do things to invite inspiration. You can be prepared and rehearsed and studied in order to capture it and make best use if it when it arrives.

Your lack of work is not the result of a lack of inspiration. It’s the other way around.


5 thoughts on “Inspiration is for amateurs

  1. Frank Nitsch says:

    Hi Kim,

    this is a great quote. Another motivation to just start with it (whatever “it” means). If I sit down and start working on a song, or if I pick my instrument and start playing, I get into it and things start to flow. This almost always happens. If would wait for some outstanding inspiration, I would get done far less and I would not start with something that often. Still it is something to recall again and again… 😉

    Thanx for sharing


  2. Kim Lajoie says:

    Cheers Frank. Invite inspiration, and be ready when it strikes!


  3. irritable says:

    Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame recently released his (excellent) new solo album “Sunken Condos”. He’s 65, he’s has sold about 30 million albums and tours steadily. He doesn’t need to prove anything and he’s wealthy.

    Many serious musicians regard him as one of the most sophisticated songwriters – musically and lyrically – of the last 35 years.

    When he’s not touring he works on composing. He works 9 to 10 hours every day at the piano. He throws out most of what he writes. He never listens to his past albums … “All my past work, it’s garbage to me … I’m only interested in the future.” What he likes best? “Work”.

    It doesn’t matter what genre you work in, or what music you prefer, this guy is truly inspiring.

  4. Frank Nitsch says:

    Seriously I don’t like the idea of seeing my past work as garbage. It is definitely something I was proud of, when it was done. Of course I notice, what I would have done differently/better today, but this is what I try to apply to my new work. And of course there’s always the will to improve from one song/recording to the next. I think this is what he means by it. 😉

  5. Kim Lajoie says:

    Sounds like I need to listen to some more Steely Dan…


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