Get inspired like Patti Smith

Patti Smith is one of the greats

I’m not the first to say it. Rolling Stone magazine called Smith one of the greatest artists of all time. Now in her seventies, she’s been making art for half a century. Songs, poems, stories, essays, autobiographies have poured from her pen. Which begs the question…

How does she have so many ideas?

Short answer: she pays attention.

Long answer: She keeps a loosely formed diary: “bits of poems, notes and observations for no particular reason save to write.” Usually, these scribbled fragments don’t lead to anything. Not every experience will inspire a work of art. But, occasionally, Smith’s notes birth a story.

When she was travelling through France, Smith saw ice skating on TV. Soon after, she was served eggs for breakfast – perfectly round eggs. Then, on a visit to a graveyard, she saw a headstone engraved with the word Devotion.

Those three experiences combined to make a story

Here’s a summary: A young skater lives for her art. She feels alive when she dances on the frozen surface of a perfectly circular lake. But she is not alone. A gentleman secretly watches. He would do anything to win her devotion.

Can you trace the ideas in the story back to Smith’s experiences in France? Ice skating. Perfectly round. Devotion. Ice skating. Perfectly round. Devotion. You get the gist.

So, what can we learn?

Don’t sit down and expect to be inspired. Go out into the world. Keep your eyes and ears open. Take notes. Inspiration will find you in the end.

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