So in the last episode I talked all about creativity and how important and fulfilling it can be and all about my creative process—from choosing what I want to do to planning it all out. Make sure you check out episode number 2 if you haven’t already listened.
Alright, so say you’ve decided what creative endeavor you want to start but maybe you hit a wall or start to fizzle out. Or maybe you haven’t even gotten that far. Maybe you don’t even know where to start. How can you find your spark of inspiration?
We’ve all heard of writers’ block, right? Like you just can’t think of what to do next. Or you’re just in a rut. It’s very common to find yourself lacking inspiration. If your life is anything like mine, when you’re being pulled in a lot of directions, it may be too hard to focus. Whether you’re writing, making, documenting, making changes or creating habits, here are ten ideas for helpful ways to find your inspiration.
- Get outside: I’m not really an outdoorsy person. In fact, one of our family mottos is “Solers don’t camp!” But spending time outdoors gives me a break from what I’m doing and helps me to refocus. Feel the breeze—no matter the temperature. Bundle up if you need to. Notice the sounds and smells all around. Breathe in the fresh air. Whether you’re in an urban or more rural environment, observe any plant or animal life around. Look at all of the shapes of structures, shades of color, and light and shadows. Soak it all in.
- Move your body: go for a walk, do a workout, go on a hike, take a few extra flights of stairs, practice yoga, join a fitness class, do what you can. Those endorphins may help you think about things in a new way or motivate you to try something new. Try a different kind of exercise.We recently got a Peloton and I’m obsessed. It is worth the hype. You can find me on there—my username is sowhynot. It’s still new but I am loving the variety or classes and the instructors are so motivating. I did the Hamilton ride last night and I was so emotional, I almost cried happy tears from gratitude. It’s so fun to try new things!
- Change your location: this may go along with getting outside or moving your body. You may see things from a different point of view. It can be hard to be inspired if you’re constantly staring at the same things all of the time. One place I love to go and browse is Anthropologie. I was obsessed in college and my closet was full of fun and interesting pieces. It’s not quite as practical for my wardrobe with kids now but I still love to go look around at everything in the store. What I love about the whole brand is just the details in the unexpected. The color and pattern mixing, the bold graphics and quirky fonts, tiny unusual details can make a big impact. Whether it’s a store, a restaurant, a neighborhood, a museum, find a new view outside of yourself that makes you see the world differently.
- This can also include going on a vacation or exploring something new (or new to you) where you live. Our travel list is long. When it was time to renew our passports at the beginning of March 2020, we decided to obtain passports for our kids as well for the first time. Little did we know that now a year later we are realistically not close to traveling internationally for quite some time. We have taken a couple of road trips and flown to Florida to visit family and enjoyed Disney World together in this past year. Every vacation we’ve ever taken we leave with renewed energy after making memories together and experiencing a change of pace outside of our normal routines. You could also explore a little in your own area. We moved to Las Vegas about 2 years ago and we have so much to explore. The kids had never stayed in a hotel on the strip, so last summer we stayed a couple of nights at the Venetian for Father’s Day. We swam in the pools, ordered room service, walked around the canals, watched cartoons, played games, and enjoyed being together. We like being tourists on the strip but there are plenty of other ways to explore in your own area: find a new hike, try a new restaurant or browse a new store, attend a festival, or play at a new park.
- Be observant. Look at minute details. Think about how things actually work; about each piece that works together. For example, a product you enjoy. Look at the design of the packaging, think about the materials or ingredients it took to produce the product, how it was transported and sold to you as a consumer. The next time you’re at a store or an event, think about how each person there has a purpose and how they work together. If it isn’t chaos, the whole process was designed with functionality in mind for a common purpose. Someone or a group of people created a standard process for the combined experiences of the end user. It was all thought out and inspired. When we visit a Disney Park, each cast member is in a position with a specific purpose—from parking attendants, ticketing, characters, food workers, rider operators, performers, cleaning and maintenance, they’re all working together for the experience of the guests. There are some amazing behind the scenes series on Disney Plus that I love to watch about how different lands and rides and experiences are planned at Disney Parks. The minds of Imagineers are fascinating. What I would give to be one or even just be around their energy! They have to think of every tiny detail. From design to flow of guests to making sure that the story they tell is fluid, there is magic in their process and the experiences they create.
- Be present. I have struggled with anxiety and overwhelm all my life. It’s not uncommon for me to be in my head and thinking about the future and not the now, not being in the moment. Whatever I’m doing, I’m thinking about what I need to get done and what I need to do later. The first time I really understood presence was in college. I found a good deal on Groupon for a hot yoga studio nearby. I have been practicing yoga on my own from VHS tapes and DVDs since I was probably 15 years old and wanted to try out a studio. It was intimidating but I was hooked from my first class. After each sweaty practice, there was a meditation period of silence and rest at the end. The instructor would leave the last 5 or 10 minutes to just be still. I was in pharmacy school and already felt like each hour of my time was precious—I could be studying or watching lectures or cramming for a test or just have some free time. I was worried about everything I needed to get done as soon as I left. The last thing I was thinking of was being present. The instructors would remind the class that we were there in the moment, to think about our bodies being grounded on our mat, to feel the warmth in the room from the heater, to feel the sweat drying on our backs, to feel our breathing relax, to smell the incense or the candle burning in the studio, to hear the music or ocean waves that were playing on the radio, to relax every muscle in our body, to let go of tension, to stop clenching our fists or jaws and to even let the tension go from our tongues to the roof of our mouth. To let everything go and just be present. Just be still. Just be there in our bodies and let go of everything else outside of that moment. It took several tries to finally let go, to not focus on my stressors. But that’s how I learned to be present and in the moment. I’m still not good at it. I have to constantly remind myself to be where I am and not in my head. Using my five senses is a good reminder. I am here and I am in this moment. Becoming a yoga instructor one day may or may not be on my bucket list.
- Meditation/prayer: along those same lines, utilizing prayer and meditation can help you find inspiration. Obviously prayer is a spiritual practice, so if that’s not for you, I still think that meditation is so beneficial. Taking the time to find quiet, to center yourself, and listen to your intuition can help you connect the dots and find direction.
- Another practice that can help you find inspiration could be a creative practice in itself—whether that’s your end game or not. Some creative processes that come to mind are doodling, coloring, and painting. There’s a reason why adult coloring books are so popular. There are countless YouTube videos to help you practice drawing and doodling. My kids and I also enjoy doing watercolor painting together. I was walking through Target the other day and came across several books with creative prompts for drawing and writing that looked so fun. (500 Creative Prompts!Create + Destroy 300 Drawing (or Writing) Prompts).Target also has a great new line of arts and crafts supplies called Mondo Llama. There are so many sets that I want to try and I see a lot of creative projects on the horizon especially over summer break. Clearing your mind and using the creative parts of your brain with these kinds of activities might help you come up with creative solutions. And you may develop a new skill at the same time.
- Another idea is to make it a group effort. What I mean by this is finding another person or a group of people that you can bounce ideas off of and come to with questions. Whether you’re seeking a specific opinion or trying to solve a problem, it can be so helpful to have a different view and a change in perspective to help you see different sides of the coin. I can’t say from personal experience but I am interested in the idea of master minds. I think it would be so helpful to be involved in a group that is mutually beneficial to everyone, that can help you with your problems and also allow each individual the opportunity to contribute.
- And finally, look specifically for creative sources of media. It’s really everywhere. I find inspiration through so many forms of media so I’ll tell you about a few of my favorites. We all have different interests, so find what works for you.
-Podcasts: I have listened to so many over the years but some of my consistent favorites are Live Free Creative, 3 in 30, The Nitty Gritty Show, and Awesome with Alison. I love listening to different perspectives and interviews and success stories and so many other motivating ideas. They are so inspiring.
-Hamilton: I’ve never seen it live. We had the chance when it came through St Louis a few years ago when we lived there and didn’t take it and I completely regret not being exposed sooner. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a broadway play written by Lin Manuel Miranda about the life of Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers of the United States. Sounds boring, right? It’s not just your average broadway musical though. It’s a hip hop musical where nearly every line spoken is through song. I cannot wrap my head around how someone could take a topic that to many, myself included, is not very exciting, and turn it into one of the most creative feats of all time. I have watched it probably 20+ times since it was released on Disney+ last year. I get something new out of it every time. I will never be involved in a broadway play, but I will soak in that energy and process and appreciate the creativity and ingenuity it took to make that story come to life. It’s amazing.
-Also on Disney+, I love watching behind the scenes interviews with different Imagineers and illustrators and composers and storytellers and visionaries, both from more recent projects and those of my childhood. My mind is blown when I see how it all comes together and what the process is like to get to the final product. Some of my favorites are The Imagineering Story, One Day at Disney, Howard, Into the Unknown: Making Disney’s Frozen 2, and Inside Pixar.
-The show “This Is Us” on NBC is one of my favorite inspirational shows on TV today. With every episode, I just find myself inspired to live life more fully. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I think it’s just the concept of how creative the writing is to tell a story across decades and I think they’re up to at least a 5 generation span. It is full of suspense and the way pieces are put together is just genius. I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already. It is worth your time.
-Another source of media is TED talks. You can find any topic imaginable to educate, motivate, and inspire you. I love that they’re short and compact. It makes it more manageable to learn.
-There’s always instagram. I find inspiration through so many different types of creative accounts that I follow. Sometimes an idea really can come from a mindless scroll.
With all of these ideas in mind, I want to highlight the idea of creating vs consuming. You can research yourself to death. To me, it’s important to be aware of the ratio of what I consume vs what I strive to create. I find fulfillment in creating and can sometimes can feel depleted when I consume too much. There’s no right number or amount of time, just something to be aware of and notice. At some point you just have to get started.
When you feel inspired and are planning out what it is that you want to create, you can start with one or both ends (for example, start from the beginning or start at your endpoint and find your way back), work on the middle or come at it from another angle.
Write it all out. Dump everything from your brain onto paper. Make lists or word webs. Make sure to download the free CREATE PDF on my website from episode 2. I really hope it helps you try something new.
I hope you can take the time for yourself to look for inspiration in your life this week. This is not an exhaustive list but I hope that some of these ideas might get your creative juices going.
Again I just want to recap my top 10 ideas for finding inspiration.
- Get outside
- Move your body
- Change your location
- Go on a vacation or explore somewhere new
- Be observant
- Be present
- Prayer and meditation
- Participating in a creative practice
- Make it a group effort
- Find creative sources of media
As always, I hope you can use these ideas as tipping off points to channel the ambition, curiosity, and desire to create the life you want to live. Thanks so much for listening. Our time is so important and I am so appreciative that you spent some of it with me.