If you are any sort of artist, writer, dancer, or simply love to create in whatever way possible, then you know how hard it can be to find inspiration! I myself often struggle with this, as I tend to become inspired extremely easily, only to have it dissipate in a few days or even hours. Oh, elusive ideas! But there are a few things that I have tried and found to be true while looking for inspiration.
1. Change your mindset
Do you even want to be inspired? Like, really want it? Or is it just something you feel like has to be done, has to be checked off the to-do list? There is just no possible way that you can become inspired in an apathetic mindset. Even if you feel miles away from being inspired, your brain can wake up your heart and push away the apathy. It will take work at first to want it, really want it.
Start by saying a few things to yourself. I want this. I want to create something wonderful. And by golly, I will! Sometimes, just forcing yourself and learning to think positive can be as much benefit to you as the actual inspiration!
If that doesn’t work, take a trip back in time and look at what you have created in the past. Remember that poem that got published in a college newsletter? Or the fun you had with your kids making a splatter-paint mural? Even the time that you came up with a killer key lime pie recipe? These are all things that can remind your heart of the amazing things you have already accomplished!
Oftentimes, when I want to paint something new but have zero inspirational ideas, I like to just go down to my art studio and sit amongst all the supplies that are on the floor. I am one of those people that likes their spaces messy. I know where everything is, and having it all around me where I can see it actually calms me! (Some of you may have just drawn back from the screen in horror). But whatever the reason, sitting around the various pieces I have made–my life’s work–makes me curious to see what else I can do!
2. Read, watch, listen
When you just can’t seem to get yourself inspired, no matter what you do, sometimes the best option is to immerse yourself in other people’s inspiration. Some of my favorite writing pieces or paintings I have created came from an idea that was sparked by a book or photograph I saw. So, when you are just too dry to conjure up something of your own, don’t be ashamed to enjoy what other artists and writers have created! You may just discover a wonderful idea that you didn’t see before.
Here are a few different ways to apply each of these methods:
- Read: Books are an incredible resource as they enclose a plethora of ideas and concepts within their pages. Each author presents a unique point of view in various different topics, so it’s fairly easy to choose a book that will inspire you. Full-blown novels don’t have to be the only source of inspiration, however. Sometimes, a short story or dose of poetry can awaken something inside you. Even an article targeting something you are passionate about can set the fire you need to create something new! When you do read, don’t read only with the intent of being inspired. This can often lead to disappointment and frustration if you can’t seem to find a precise statement that applies to you. Don’t box in the creativity! Instead, try to just relax and enter the story. Read it like any other book. You might end up finding inspiration in a place you didn’t expect! For example, my creative writing has kind of suffered this summer. I haven’t done a whole lot, and really just haven’t wanted to either. But then I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry (which is on my top 15 must-read list), and I was so enraptured by the perception of memories that I decided to write something like a novella based off of my own artistic thought process. It’s not done yet, but I might share it with you all when it is! 🙂
- Watch: This can be a variety of different things. People watching in the city, looking art videos, inspirational pictures, anything. But especially when you want to create something visual (and even something with just words), the best solution is often to look at other unique creations and displays. There’s nothing more that makes me want to paint then walking into my favorite art gallery, even if the style is nothing at all like mine! In fact, it sometimes helps more to see something I’m not used to.
- Listen: When looking for inspiration, there is almost no better cure than listening to music! Music is universally known to lift moods, heal, and inspire. Take a notebook, turn on your favorite music, and write whatever comes to you. Or you can branch out, listen to something new. Instrumental is always one of my favorites to get the ideas flowing (my favorite are the Piano Guys, because cello and piano were just meant to be together!!), even though my favorite genre is Indie Acoustic. Later in this post, I’ll share how you can utilize music practically to help generate ideas without even trying!
Each of these methods are awesome ways to help inspire yourself, but sometimes they can take a bit of work. Even so, these are the “big 3” that artists, authors, songwriters, and many others use to catch fleeting bits of inspiration.
Some of my favorite artists in the world come from the Milan family. They are modern abstract realists that create the most astounding and beautiful oil paintings. I always love seeing their work! And though they are centered in California, they often share that the very heart of their inspiration comes from the country of Greece. They travel there fairly often, taking groups with them for art classes just to learn and experience the landscape of Greece. For them, the best inspiration come from discovery and exploration.
Now, we can’t all travel out of the country to find our much-needed inspiration. But it is always possible just to “get out,” whatever that means to you. Go explore! Explore what you have never seen, explore what is already familiar. For me, I love to just walk the streets of town. With all the different people and shops I pass, there are hundreds of ideas just ripe for the picking! Maybe for you, it means going out in nature. Find a hiking trail near you, or a creek or river that you can kayak on. Immerse yourself in the beauty and imagination surrounding you, whatever type of surrounding that may be.
4. Prompt yourself–try something new
The biggest warning sign that you have worn yourself out is if you dread the thought of doing what you once loved. I have been there, and it is a horrible place to be. If you go to the gallery page, I have a sample of my work that I have done over the years. You may notice that there seems to be two different styles in the photos. Well, that’s because there is! The drawings are all from previous years, and the paintings are more recent. Now, I love to draw. Love it with all of my heart. But I went through a stage where I was just trying to chug out as much as I could, and I began to hate it. So I had a complete turn-around a few years ago, and have been pursuing more abstract real painting style. Since then, I still love to draw. I just don’t do it quite as often (But I still adore looking through all my amazing pencils). And I have found so much freedom in a style where I never would have ventured before! So, finding inspiration may just be a matter of trying something new, if only for a time.
And how do you prompt and push yourself to new territory? Here are a few ways that I have found to be helpful in the dry times:
- Music: As I mentioned earlier, I learned just this year a very special way to use music in art. My art class did a series of sketches that were sole reactions to music. We would listen and sketch, using any colors or medium we wished. And at the end of the series, we looked at all the ideas that had come out of that music. It was so cool to see how the different genres influenced what I sketched, and I caught some inspiration for future projects. It was such an simple and enjoyable way to let inspiration flow. I didn’t have to be inspired at all, I just had to react. Makes it easy!
- Scrap sketch: Make yourself a list of random objects. Or, better yet, have someone make a list for you. Then go through the list and try to look at the objects in a way you’ve never seen them before. It can be silly, or serious. Maybe even collect those objects and arrange them in a weird way. Then, just sketch away! Add color, scraps of paper, glitter, paint, anything! The goal is to make normal objects appear to be new and exciting! You don’t have to be inspired to do this, just add whatever feels right. Go so far as to buy yourself a special notebook just for these scrap sketches! Oftentimes, just forcing yourself into the process can help you start to actually enjoy it, and the end product is always something to be proud of (no matter how ridiculous it seems)!
- Online/Book prompts: While I believe these should be used sparingly, they can be a breath of fresh air for the artist, writer, or journalist and are incredibly easy to find on Pinterest and other social media websites. I especially love this writing prompt book, 642 Things to Write About, that has so much randomness and creativity that anyone will just love it!
I am not a big fan of generated, online prompts. I don’t like how they limit your own creativity, and can become sort of a crutch. But if you really are not finding inspiration in any other area, then perhaps the best option is to try an online prompt (whether it be for writing or art) and see what comes out of it. If nothing else, they can be a great way to get your own creativity going again!
5. Take a break
If all else fails, it might just be time to take a break! And in the end, when push comes to shove, you can never force inspiration to happen. Prompt it, stimulate it, yes. But never force it. That will truly just result in discouragement. If this is you, don’t feel disheartened or incapable. Everyone goes through times where inspiration simply is not around. And unless creativity is actually your job, then there shouldn’t be a whole lot to worry about! 🙂 Inspiration will come around in due time.
I hope this was helpful in guiding you to inspiration! Is there any ways you find inspiration that I missed? Tell me below! And feel free to pin this post to share with others!
If you liked this, be sure to check out 5 Ways to Boost Your Creative Writing Skill, and check out my Exclusive Tip to Make Your Art POP for a simple and breath-taking technique that will take your art to the next level!