Finding inspiration is not usually a challenge for me - knock on a million pieces of wood. Although external sources often trigger an idea and feed us, I think most people agree that inspiration comes from within. However, a muse is nothing at which to sniff. One of Lucian Freud’s muses inspired a painting that set the world record for the highest amount paid at auction by a living artist. Here’s Sue the benefits worker.

But how do we move from the excitement of inspiration to a result? How do we write the last chapter, paint the last stroke, put the finishing touches on that workshop? And should we discuss the icky middle stage? I think not. I asked a few friends how they move along when stuck in the mire of creation. The answers were varied and fascinating.

Above photo: Curtsies to Lucy Martin.

Brenda, Director of Movement Dialogues has been involved in movement education since 1985. She works with a diverse group of clients, both adults and children, including artists, musicians, dancers, athletes and those who wish to enhance the quality of their life. She says:

“The earth, trees, sea and sky are always so inspiring to me and I need my time in nature. Yet it is the mindful movement and attending to my own nature -- my earth -- that allow me the ability to connect more deeply whether it is to mother nature, my husband, my friends... as it also helps me with my feeling of vitality and comfort in my own body. The movement itself connects me to my creativity -- I never know where going into that structure of comfortable exploration is going to take me.”

Lisa, is the co-owner of Chroma Makeup Studio in Beverly Hills. As a makeup artist and producer of all Chroma products including two seasonal color palates each year, Lisa is constantly in creative mode. Her response:

“That's such an interesting topic. I struggle with this a lot. I find that just starting to do whatever it is that requires inspiration helps. Sometimes the inspiration follows...sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't I just stop working on whatever it is and start up again later. My job requires I am creative whether inspired or not, so when I'm working on things outside of makeup, I really want to be inspired. I have to add, it's interesting that when I have to produce, inspiration or not, technique takes over and the outcome is probably the same. It just doesn't feel as fulfilling.”

I have a friend who is a story analyst, writer and teacher. Seriously lucky me. She says, “I don't have any particular rituals when I'm moving on from inspiration to results, but I have always held an image in my mind since working on my grad school thesis. I think of each sentence as a brick and I'm the bricklayer. What I'm building - a wall, a room - depends on the emotional content of the section.” Love that.

I experience quite a lot of fear and anxiety when I write and quite a bit more as I sit idle and wait for the process to have it’s way with me. My friend who lays bricks gave me this.

It helps. So do her phone calls and emails – immeasurably.

So does this fellow.

He was sitting on the flagstones in Hampstead on a street called Flask Walk, no cars allowed, propped up against a table burdened with dreadful unwanted glassware. His Madam, the terrifying Jacquie, never seen without thick, hot pink lipstick and cheap perfume, sold him to me for £4.00. There's something whorish about that, I almost felt bad paying so little. I call him Worthington the Scolder. Every time I look at him he tells me to get on with it. I move him around the room and I don't like to sit with my back to him. He’s put a hex on the camera; all of his photos turn out the same, with some part of his face missing. He’s not mean, but he’s not the partygoer either.

I surround myself with things that boss me around and tell me what to do so there’s very little chance I’ll slack off without a great deal of guilt.

What do you do?