As a creative individual, I am thoroughly aware of the potential to lack inspiration. It can be really hard to avoid this kind of creative funk when you feel it coming on. No matter how aggravating it is once set in. Even in the most stimulating of positions, the presence and perception of monotony can make it hard to stay inspired.
Adjust Your Expectations
Try to not go into every project expecting to break ground in the industry. By doing so, you’re limiting your brainstorming process. You are skipping over tested theories, common practices, even your own past triumphs. These often serve as great jumping off points for something truly groundbreaking, and should never be ignored.
Start every project with an open mind, and the goal of simply making something good. Once you’re there—the path to greatness is much less perilous. The point of your career is the compounding of your past experiences; your successes, and your failures. Both of these are resources that should be leveraged in all future endeavors.
This recent post on my blog discusses the concept of managing expectations in further detail; with additional reasoning and perspective.
Understand What Inspires You
Obviously it’s impossible to get inspired if you don’t know what it is that gets you going. Maybe not impossible. But understanding what inspires you, then manipulating your environment and situation accordingly, allows you to control and access your creative inspiration on demand.
Personally, I am inspired by pretty much everything but sitting still. I find it incredibly helpful to get out of dodge. As frequently as possible. Seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things allows me to tap into a nearly endless well of inspiration. I feel lighter, happier—and most importantly: ready to create.
If you’re anything like me, it is important to express this need to your team. If it’s true, they’ll see the benefit to being more lenient with your time.
Creativity is anything but linear, and when it starts to become more streamlined of a process, representable by an equation? Escape. Otherwise, you’ll overwork yourself and start putting out things that can’t really be referred to as ‘creative,’ or genius.
In addition to running away from my problems, I find inspiration in music, fashion, art, and nature. Incorporate as much of these inspirations as you can into your daily life. Make just as much effort here as you do at work; it’ll make work more of a free flowing, easier, and much more enjoyable experience.
It is more than possible to have more than one source of inspiration. It allows you to tap into the more accessible ones, more frequently. Providing a sufficient fix until you can access your next big hit of inspiration.
Quantity, Not Quality
We’re just talking about creating for your own inspiration with this one. Not publications.
Just let it all out, baby! Seriously. As much as you can, write. Or, create how you create. Lose even the expectations you’ve adjusted from the first section, and just do what you do best. Allow yourself to make mistakes; create things you don’t really love, even that you absolutely hate.
It ties back into good ol’ brainstorming. The more ideas you get out, regardless of quality, the more room there is for the continued generation of new ones. Having them on paper (or any medium, other than brain matter) also makes it much easier to manipulate and perfect them.
Quantity, not quality is usually not the advice I give. But, in your creative process, it works. Make sure to protect your ideas from theft, and don’t let anything less than your standard hit press.
Be Open, Be Prepared
Even with the firmest grasp on the sources of your inspiration, it can jump out and surprise you anywhere, any time. Don’t knock how others find inspiration, try it, maybe it works for you as well.
Always bring a way to take notes, or capture your inspiration in real time. You never want to be caught with your pants down when there is a moment of glory on the horizon.
How do you find inspiration? Have you ever found particularly strong inspiration, in a strange way? I’m interested in learning more from you, in the comments!