As “Creatives” we live off moments of inspiration, and that inspiration can be found in just about any situation: while relishing in the glow of a summer sunset, watching the squirrels play in the autumn leaves, going through a terrible break up, in the words of a great poet you found at the library, in the brushstrokes of a masterpiece at the art museum, and the list goes on. Inspiration can also come at anytime. Yes, when your creative friend says they woke up in the middle of the night with a great idea, they aren’t just saying that to sound artsy…it really does happen like that at times. (Many of my blog posts were written at 3 am… just saying!)
But what do you do when it seems like you have depleted all those little gold nuggets in your mine of inspiration? When the well seems dried up? When you feel like you haven’t had an “AH HA” moment in months… you get my point. What are we supposed to do when inspiration doesn’t show up?
Here are a few helpful tips I have used to help me find inspiration again:
Sometimes inspiration doesn’t show up because we are suffering from inspiration overload. We listen to music non-stop, thanks to streaming platforms like Spotify, Google play, etc. We can stream movies and TV shows anywhere at anytime on Netflix and Hulu. But with all of that constant noise, sometimes it is hard for our own inspired ideas to break through the static. So take a break and turn off the radio and the TV. Shut down the social media apps, and put your phone on silent. Just sit and listen to your own ideas taking shape.
1½: Build A Creative Sanctuary:
This tip goes hand in hand with #1. In this day and age, it can be hard to find a place that is noise free, so you need to search for a spot to build a creative sanctuary. It could be a desk in the corner of your bedroom or an entire man cave/she shed dedicated as a creative space. Whatever your creative sanctuary looks like, make sure it is stocked with books, poetry, art, coffee, and any other item that inspires you.
2. Switch It Up:
Some people look to popular music for inspiration, some look to films, poetry, art, nature, literature, culture, or even inanimate objects. Whatever it is you look to in order to be inspired, Switch It UP! Sometimes our main source for inspiration dries up and becomes a desert for a season. Don’t keep searching for a drop of inspiration in a place where there is clearly no water. If you usually listen to what’s hot in the music industry for your inspiration, try reading poetry instead. A change of perspective is sometimes the best way to find inspiration.
3. Make A Mess:
I feel like the best way to begin the creative process is to make a mess. Don’t set out to do anything in particular, just sit down and mess around. Sometimes inspiration will show up in a random idea you jot down during an object writing, or in that random chord progression you came up with, or sometimes it can even be found in a mistake you make. Don’t be afraid to get crazy with your mess making! Think of the weirdest thing to write a song about and try to make it sound beautiful, write an insane chord progression, mix those colors together even if it seems crazy, write that story about a hobbit ending up in New York City! You may not use all of what you came up with, but think of it like a treasure hunt. Sometimes there is a perfect idea hidden in that mess, you just have to find it!
4. Find a Partner in Crime:
On many occasions, finding the help of another creative can be just what the doctor order for a case of misplaced inspiration. I am a huge believer in co-writing sessions, idea groups, and creative people show and tell. Find yourself another creative to bounce ideas off of, to collaborate with, or share your current projects with. Another perspective can be a breath of fresh air that brings new ideas you never would have thought about.
5. Just DO IT:
When we have a lack of inspiration, the temptation is to just stop trying and wait for inspiration to show up. While this works on occasion, it isn’t really the most effective way to locate your missing inspiration. If you feel stuck on a specific project, move on to something else. Now I’m not saying throw that project or idea away, I’m saying put it in a draw for later. As you are working on a new project, you can find ideas to help you finish those old projects you filed away. You just have to keep creating! In the wise words of Shia LaBeouf… “Just Do It!”
Need some motivation? Shia’s got you covered…