I love the idea of seeking inspiration. If there’s one thing I learned in college (okay, a lot of things actually resonated with me in college, but this is a big one), it’s that you can’t wait for inspiration. If you wait, you’ll never do anything. Inspiration comes after you start. It’s so true but it’s also painful because if you’re burnt out or in a creative rut the last thing you feel like you’re capable of is diving into a project. In the past couple years, I’ve fallen into that routine and each time I try to find inspiration—as if that’s really possible—in all the likely places. Pinterest. Blogs. Pretty photos. But in the end, I’m left, maaaybe a little inspired, but definitely not more motivated. In truth, sometimes looking for inspiration in an endless feed of finished products can put you right back at the starting line.
So when I really need to dive in and get started but am just not feeling it, it’s a little more work. I need to go back to the ways I would get inspired before I was on the internet 24/7. And it turns out, a lot of these ‘old school’ ways of doing things, actually do have quite a bit to do with real life school! (Don’t click out, it’s fun I swear! Ha). Here goes:
Create a Collage with Magazine Cutouts
Yep, back to the drawing board. The other day I decided to literally cut inspiration from magazines and that little walk down memory lane really boosted my mood. Not sure what that says about me, but there ya go. There’s something oddly calming about reading, loving, and then subsequently destroying a magazine—all in favor of creating something new. Glossy collages are a lost art really. It’s a shame they only really look good on those 4” white binders! Anyway. This is a SUPER simple way of creating something that will allow you to relax + let your imagination run wild while still doing a little critical thinking (hello, certain colors, patterns, and celebs are not going to go together!).
Get a Hard Copy + Annotate
Excuse my incessant championing of print. :) But really, in school, most people (aside from us English majors) weren’t exactly thrilled when given the assignment to read and annotate a particular piece of literature. Annotating requires that you actually consider and at least attempt to understand the material. It doesn’t matter what book you decide to read, as long as you’re interested in it, to do this exercise. Physically reflecting on what you read will only lead to more ideas, and voila, more inspiration.
Take a Class
I’ve recently realized how overlooked taking classes are. I think you can take a class in almost anything and leave inspired and have it help your writing game or whatever field you’re in. There’s just something about learning something you actually want to learn that leads to ideas. Websites like Skillshare (everything), Creativebug (DIY) Treehouse (web design & coding), and Creative Live (classes from creative experts) all offer online courses if you’re not in school or don’t have a lot of time. Yeah, you’re still online, but you’re actually making really good use of your hour. I also personally really want to look into physical classes in my area, as I think it knocks this point and my next point off the list pretty well!
Join the (Real Life) Conversation
Online conversations can be very meaningful and productive, but I think there’s something to be said for the back and forth that happens when two or more creative individuals get together and just start building ideas off of one another. It’s one of the things I miss most about school. Unless your brainstorms with your internet friends are somewhat instant, you could be missing out on the gift that is impulsivity. Without the time to type out a comment or email (even if it is only five seconds) and without the dreaded response time, you gain access to a great creative tool. Real life communication is where it’s at. And this is coming from an introvert, I should point out!
Got any old tricks for getting inspired? Please share!