How inspired have you been in your creativity lately?
Are you bursting at the seams with ideas and exciting possible projects? Or tired and disillusioned by a predictable regurgitation of the same old thoughts and (lack of) creative choices?
Despite common phrases like “when inspiration strikes”, creative inspiration is not something we are completely powerless over, and simply have to wait for and hope it might arrive.
Although we can’t control which ideas we’ll have when, we can go a long way towards ensuring our likelihood of being inspired and energised to create is high.
Here then are 25 ways to create your own endless channel of creative inspiration.
1. Imagine starting with a blank slate. If you had absolutely nothing and were asked to create something you really wanted to create, what would you need to acquire? Revel in how very little you actually need to give your ideas life, and consider how you can take this back to your regular creative work.
2. Take new routes to the familiar. Go on a journey you know well via a different street or a different town. Take an alternative form of transport. Exploring in this simple way will demonstrate that just as one starting point can lead to many destinations, the same destination can be reached in many ways – some far more stimulating than others.
3. Reconnect with your senses. All creative inspiration enters, and leaves, via our senses. Pick one, say your sense of hearing, and sit quietly somewhere focusing only on what you hear. You’ll pick up on many layers of sound you barely notice usually. Try the same with other senses and you’ll quickly realise that our surroundings are constantly stimulating. All fuel for your creative work.
4. Explore a completely new artform as a spectator. Go to a ballet, or a exhibition of willow sculpture, or a public garden. Even though the artform might not be familiar to you, there’s plenty to be gained from looking at the aspects of creativity common to all artforms, and ideas around this you can borrow.
5. Wear your clothes inside out and back to front. Yes I know this sounds silly. But by just doing this once (you don’t have to leave the house, but bonus points if you do) will remind you that we don’t always have to automatically default to what we think is the “right” and only way of doing and seeing things. Especially when it comes to creating.
6. Investigate a new language and alphabet. I imagine, as you’re reading this, that you’re very familiar with English. Explore some other alphabets – some slightly different, like other European ones, and some very different like Far Eastern or Arabic ones – as a reminder that the way we communicate is not the only way. Also, some alphabets are very beautiful on a purely visual basis, which in itself will inspire.
7. Go to the quietest place you know. Where no-one else is around. Sit for at least 10 minutes and just let your ideas bubble in your mind, without trying to force them, or still them. Just observe them. Without even trying, new ideas – and offshoots of existing ideas – will form new fusions in your mind. Take a notebook and jot down what you need to at the end.
8. Write and/or create with your non-dominant hand. You don’t even need to try anything particularly creative with this. Just writing a shopping list with your least used hand will cause you to pause and take more care in shaping the letters, and maybe even involve some creative shorthand to save time. How can you apply this to some of your creative projects?
9. Become your own biggest fan. Interview yourself and look back over your greatest creative moments of recent years. Speak and act as if you were the biggest fan you had in the world and adored your artwork. You’ll remember how creative you are, and how talented you are, with new eyes, and be motivated to rediscover some of those highs.
10. Gather images by feeling. Instead of thinking in physical attributes like size, colour and texture, gather images (physically or electronically) purely by how they make you feel. Don’t question why, just gather. You might want a file for joy, another for despair, another for confused, and another for alive. Consider how you can create from a more spontaneous, emotion-led standpoint.
11. Read magazines and articles you would never usually read. Make them as strange and varied as possible. The more you stimulate your mind, the more likely it will come up with new combinations, juxtapositions and ideas that you can apply to your existing, more familiar ways of creating.
12. Reorganise your tools and supplies in a completely different way. For example, re-order all of your books by size or spine colour, or your pens by how much they cost, or the by the date you bought them. Explore how arranging the same collection of objects by a different criteria can change their overall appearance – and feeling – radically.
13. Get out in nature. Go for a walk in the woods, in a park, by a lake, anywhere that’s away from buildings and civilization. Remember and rediscover the amazing beauty of the natural world, and how it can be an endless source of inspiration, once you take the time to look and listen closely enough.
14. Watch some children’s TV. You can do this on two levels – first to simply enjoy how freely imaginative and funny it can be. And second, to observe how differently it’s produced and presented because it’s for children. What makes it more engaging and stimulating than what you might normally watch? How can you apply these different angles to your own projects?
15. Form a multimedia supergroup. If you were to put on a multimedia display or exhibition, and your work was to be the central part, which other artists (living or dead) would you have the work of there too? Imagine element of music, film, space and set design, graphic design of the promotional material, illustrators, caterers, as many different elements as you can.
15. Walk somewhere you know only by car. You don’t have to go the whole journey, but by just starting out on foot somewhere you usually drive, you’ll instantly see so much more detail. For example, a moderate incline in a car is barely noticeable, but on foot, the extra gravity is very noticeable. Let your observation skills sharpen and absorb what you experience.
16. Communicate with a friend without using any words. Or pictures. Each come up with a few ideas as to what you want to communicate beforehand, write them down, keep them secret, then take turns in trying to convey them. A huge reason why we create is to connect with others. And to connect with ourselves. This experiment will help you find new ways of doing that, ones you may not have considered.
17. Write object diaries. Pick a random everyday object – like a shoe or a hairbrush or an apple – and write about a typical day in its life. Take the time to write in as much detail as possible, as if the object has senses and feelings. This exercise will help you see new insights and details in the familiar and mundane.
18. Create by subtraction, then addition. Let’s take writing as an example. Subtraction might be taking a long poem and editing it down to its core essence using only three or five lines. Creating by addition is the opposite – taking something tiny and adding layers to enhance its details. Experiment with both, notice which you’re most comfortable with – then do more of the other!
19. Visualise and rehearse the most creative day of your life. What would be your dream day in terms of creating? Take some time to ponder and write about the best possible day of creativity you could have. Then look at all the aspects that are well within your power to bring into being. There’ll be more than you thought. Start putting some of them into place. Today.
20. Read children’s books. A great children’s book will be full of imagination and vibrant detail. As a bonus, many have accompanying illustrations to further stimulate your ideas. What if you lived in the world of some of these books? What freedom would that give you to create? Why not create like that anyway? Why not create your own equally imaginative worlds?
21. Impose some seemingly impossible restrictions on your creativity. For example try writing stories in only six words, or paint an entire painting with only three shades of green. The more stringent the rules, the more your creativity will have to work. Which is what it thrives on! Experiment with adding and removing rules, and find the optimum number your creativity loves best.
22. Try food you’ve never tried before. Either something from your own culture, or from another culture you’re not familiar with. Bonus: Research and explore the origins of the food you’re trying – where it comes from, how it’s made, how it’s prepared and so on. The preparation techniques alone could give you a whole wealth of stimulating ideas for how you might prepare your creative ideas in different ways.
23. Explore the patterns of nature. Google it. Watch some videos and documentaries. On a purely visual level, plants alone have an incredible depth, beauty and intricacy to their form, yet we take them for granted and barely give a bunch of flowers a second glance. How can some of these wonderful patterns inform and inspire your own work?
24. Write a list of all the things you could try to find new creative inspiration. Write the numbers 1 to 25 at least down the side of a page and write something next to each one. Don’t stop to evaluate or judge, just write. Keep going, the best ideas will come in the teens, twenties, thirties, maybe even the fifties. (If you can keep a secret, I’ll tell you that this is exactly how I wrote this article – then removed all the least interesting early ones afterwards.)
Finally, for now, the most important tip on this entire list:
25. Keep showing up. By keeping your side of the deal and showing up regularly to create (every day would be ideal), and by trying out some of the ideas above, you can’t help but become more inspired, and more creative.
If you don’t ever show, your creativity cannot flow.
Give yourself a chance. Always be open to new ways of being inspired and gathering ideas. And show up to create and give life to those ideas every day.
What ideas and techniques do you use to keep yourself inspired? Please share them with us in the comments below.
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