Two Keys for Artistic Inspiration / by Sam Abelow

The muse comes when she chooses, but there are ways to leave the door open for her.

Original mixed media painting:

Whether you are a watercolorist, oil painter, abstract acrylic maniac, sketch-book filler, or a novelist, short-story dasher, essayist, poet, fellow blogger, or a songwriter, musician, producer, these two keys ways of sustaining inspiration will surely be of help!

The Little Things

For the writer and artist:

I have been a dedicated diarist and sketchbook archivist since I was very young. My collection of old journals are filled with random ideas: turns of phrase, little doodles and completed drawings. The material I dashed off years ago, gives me a never-ending source of interesting content to pull from. In these sketchbooks, my mind is free to explore, unconcerned with public view. This becomes an endless library of original motifs.

A variety of sketchbooks, journals -- ideas -- that I keep around.

The journal — filled with explorations— must be continually developed; with each day we must observe, take notes, jot down the subtle thoughts that can lead to a fully formed, even monumental idea. By taking the time to sketch and write each day, we keep the juices flowing, until the moment when it all comes together.

This regimented practice keeps the touch of the artist’s hand in motion; it keeps the writer’s use of language in flow; it keeps you ready for the muse to strike and for when it might really pour out.

For the songwriter and musician:

This mixed media piece combines a line from a poem I wrote in 2007, with the silhouette and reinterpretation of a photo I collected in 2010. When I began to develop this format and painting technique, sources of inspiration were just at my fingertips.

See my mixed media portolio:

You should be collecting a digital sketchbook of your sounds! When ideas strike you, record them into your phone, or any device that is immediate. Label them and archive them; then later, when you’re in need of a motif, scan through your ideas and elaborate on them.

The key is consistency here. You should always be pursuing sound. Once this library of inspirations, ideas builds, you will have a resource at your fingertips that is invaluable. When a client or new talent comes into your studio, there will be almost endless material to draw from. When you’re working on your next album, there will be songs just waiting to be put together

It doesn’t hurt to have the flour, baking powder and eggs all in the pantry, when you’re about to sit down and make the project. I’m speaking of stocking your cabinets and fridge — preparing for that next big project with little ingredients each day.


My second key will function for writers, artists and musicians. In fact, it would function well for any sort of career and passion that you might pursue.

Over the past several decades we have admired rock stars and eccentric artists who might’ve been self-destructive: they came and went in a furious and impactful flash. Although this made a lasting impact for Janis Joplin or Jean Basquiat, I believe there are more healthy, long-sustainable lifestyle choices, which lead to fulfilling and even brilliant work.

Energy levels, for the creative person, can be just as important as they are for the athlete. Our brains need to full of necessary nutrients for the neuron synapses. You should pay attention to what foods give you the most energy and eat those items at regular times. 

Composing lyric and song, on the porch. The words are inspired by a fictional motif.

Then, make sure to get to the gym or do some yoga. Many studies have show that, “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.” [1]

When those hormones, neurotransmitters and body are all charged up and in balance, your creativity will be on a whole other level. The connection between inspiration and the body-mind, once discovered, may become central to your routine — a routine which sets the foundation for artistic greatness.

Long gone are the days when writers lived off alcohol and coffee; musicians who spin-off in a swirl of booze and heroin are now antiquated. It’s not cool to suffer; it’s cool to make great art.

Best of luck in your endeavors. Email me at and show me what you’re up to.