Today’s big idea is that in order to invite creativity to have a bigger seat at your proverbial table, you need to find inspiration.
Fun fact: the root of “spire” means breath, so inspired means filled with breath, or since if you aren’t breathing you’re dead, filled with life. So even if you don’t care one whit about doing anything creative, inspiration is still essential.
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So, how do you make sure that you have regular rondez-vouses with inspiration?
Here are some tried and true ways to get into that state where inspiration is rushing in to meet you, like Kermit and Miss Piggy racing toward each other across a grassy field.
Julia Cameron in her self-help classic, The Artist’s Way, recommends courting inspiration by scheduling regular artist’s dates with yourself where you go and do something that gets your creative juices flowing, whether that’s going to a museum, or a yarn store, or a library, or a thrift shop if upcycling is part of your creative jam.
I whole heartedly recommend leaving the house to go to a place that is not your house, as sometimes we need to leave or everyday environment to start seeing possibilities. BUT, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can now also browse the crap out of websites and apps, like Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube to find tutorials on how to do anything from cooking to painting to cross stitch and so much more.
My 11 year old son Teddy loves drawing anime characters, and uses Tik Tok primarily to go see what anime characters other people are drawing, and what techniques they’re using. During a pandemic especially, these apps can be a great source of inspiration–of course, you have to try to rein in your attention in these places or else the time you wanted to use to find inspiration could get frittered away watching really dumb stuff, or so many different kinds of things that all you feel afterward is scattered, not inspired. So, user beware.
One place you might NOT consider as a destination to boost your creativity is outside
But it is undeniable that getting away from your screens and spending time in nature is a reset for your brain and a boost to your creativity.
In fact, one 2012 study found that people who spent four days on a hiking trip were a whopping 50 percent more creative than folks who hadn’t been outdoors all the time. There’s a school of thought, called attention restoration theory, that was developed by researchers Stephen and Rachel Kaplan in the late 80s and early 90s, that says that being in nature restores our ability to think clearly.
So if you want to feel more creative in your life but don’t know where to start, head outside. Even a city park counts. A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that it only took 25 minutes in a green space to refresh your attention. Just go observe what there is to see and breathe in the fresh air and know that when you head back inside, you’ll feel mentally refreshed and more open to thinking differently.
Of course, you can also get inspired by engaging with art in some shape or form. Reading, listening to music, going to an art exhibit, using your favorite homemade things that are in your home can all get your creative juices flowing. In order to be a creator, it really helps to be a consumer of others’ creative output. It’s like you can ride their creative brainwaves into your own idea.
And finally, sometimes you have to schedule your inspiration.
Meaning, you can’t wait for it to show up; you’ve go to make space for it in your life by carving out some time on your calendar where you have no other obligation but to putz around in whatever creative pursuit is calling to you.
The way that I do my creative writing is by joining a writing group that meets on Fridays at noon. I show up, the leader gives us a prompt, and I write. All the other days of the week, I don’t have to wonder when I’m going to write, or feel bad that I haven’t done it lately. I know that I will do it on Friday. It’s kind of like showing up to a scheduled yoga or other type of fitness class, all you have to do is get your butt there.
I’ve learned about myself that I need to know that other people are going to show up in the same place at the same time in order to do the thing. Is there a group or a class you could join? Maybe you’re more of an individualist, which is totally fine. You still need to figure out when you’re going to do your creative thing. As in, actually look at your calendar and think, when will I do this thing that comforts me and makes me happy this week?
Daily Tiny Assignment
Think of a couple ideas of things you can do that invite inspiration in to your life, and then to look at your calendar and schedule a couple times to do those things. This is how you start to take a nice idea and make it real. This is how you show up for your own creativity. I promise you, it feels great.
Come back tomorrow, when I’m talking about how to do creative work even when you’re inner critic is telling you that you suck, or that you’re crazy, or that the whole thing is a waste of time. Which, isn’t a question of IF it will happen, because it’s a given. The only question is, how will you react?