How do you get inspiration for your work? Is that something you find easy or do you find it a challenge? Inspiration can come from so many places, but it often has its own schedule. Even if you are on a deadline, creativity doesn’t care. True, some people work better under pressure of a deadline, while others not so much. Either way, getting creatively inspired for your work is essential. In my case, once I am clear on a topic, it is fairly easy for me to write. But coming up with an idea may take time—and certainly requires thought and some kind of inspiration. Today’s post is completely born upon the following method for finding creative inspiration. Interestingly the method is supplied by two extreme opposite forces—getting lots of stimulation and getting none.
Collect Ideas. AKA Go Outward.
Although it is easy to get caught in the procrastination loop if not handled carefully (for more see The Procrastination Beast), getting inspiration through outside input can be very helpful when you feel stuck. When you are looking for some creative juice to spark your imagination, look for external sources that have worked for you in the past. I know that I can always rely on certain writers of blogs and videos, particular magazine columns and faithful books to get my energy and creative ideas flowing. When I feel creatively blocked, I can jog my thoughts by listening to thoughts from other people. The key is to focus on ideas that have nothing to do with the topic of my work. Their thinking invariably jump-starts my own thinking. Music and visual stimulation also often helps—nature and colorful pictures in magazines are my go to.
Try it yourself. What are you working on? Are you clear—for the moment—as to where you are going? If yes, sit down and begin your work. If not, whose voice (live or written) will help? Don’t have a list of sources for inspiration? Start creating your list now. Look for inspiring books or videos. Pull out trade magazines and journals from your field. Like arts and crafts? Cut out pictures from magazines for ideas. Try to expose yourself to a broad range of ideas and information for just under a half hour and see if it works to fill your creative cup. This alone might get you started on your inventive path. Sometimes, however, when you get lots of great external input, you find that you are completely overwhelmed. And you still have no clear direction for your work. Now it is time for the next step.
Get Quiet. AKA Go Inward.
To let the mind rest and reflect and process all that you have gathered, you must get quiet. My favorite way is to take a bubble bath (easy for me because I work from home). Even though it was an unusual hour for me to hit the tub—11:00 am—I took one anyway because I knew that I needed to quiet my mind and let my ideas percolate. Don’t focus on the work you are trying to accomplish. Don’t actively analyze and search for a creative direction. Be still. Meditation also works wonders. It is as if clearing the mind makes room for creative stuff to enter. Sure enough, as soon as I started to soak in my bath, my mind generated tons of ideas and I couldn’t wait to get back to my computer.
Now try this yourself. What kind of solitude can you find in your work situation? Perhaps a quick walk around the block suits you? Maybe you have a break room where you can get a coffee and stare at the wall? No deliberate working is allowed. I know people who swear by coloring mandalas with pretty colored pencils to calm their mind. It’s coloring books for adults! (Check out Printmandala). Just let your mind wander and be still. As soon as your creative juices start flowing again, get back to work.
Keep in mind that for creativeness, as is true for so much in life, pushing really hard is counterproductive. With a little outside input and some time to yourself, you are bound to find lots of innovative ideas for your work.
How do you get inspired? We’d love to hear about your experience.