Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How To Find Inspiration

To a creative person lack of inspiration is similar to dying, except you are still alive and have to deal with it. Everyone goes through periods of time when nothing seems to excite you and all the ideas seem to have left on a mission to Mars and they forgot to invite you along. So what do you do when you need inspiration and no matter which rocks you turn over all you seem to find are bugs?

Here are some ideas to help catch the elusive muse.

Let inspiration find you. With a world full of distractions it's hard to think let alone listen to something that can't be heard. Turn off the TV, radio, ipod, cell phone, instant messages, and hang a sign on the door saying you've gone to lunch and won't be back for an hour. Then sit in a comfy chair and close your eyes. And stop thinking. Listen to the sounds around you, look at the light patterns of your eyelids, and let the ideas come to you.

Limit your senses. You can only process so many incoming signals at once so turn one off and provide an open path for the one you want. Try watching a visually stimulating movie but turn the sound and closed captions off. In the absence of a storyline it allows your brain to think its own thoughts about what you are seeing. You can also start watching the movie part way in so you don't get wrapped up in a plot.

Find the right song. Try listening to music you might not always listen to, and when you find the song that just seems to click, put it on repeat. Don't worry if others think you're nuts because you have listened to the same song 20 times. You're doing this for your reasons not theirs. Repeat is inspiration's friend.

Go for a walk. Get out of the office or house and walk in a different direction than you have before. Movement stimulates your body and mind and the new sights will force your brain to deal with new sensations. If you can't get out, try walking briskly in a circle or back and forth. Unusual activity will prepare your brain for something new. And in case it isn't obvious, leave the ipod on the desk.

Open a window. Having a fresh breeze and letting the outside in can change the feeling in the room and also in your brain. Even if it's the middle of Winter, the change can bring fresh thoughts.

Look at new art. Yes you may love that picture of a windmill hanging on your wall but by now it's old and the ideas it inspires are old. Hang a new painting on the wall, or print off a picture you found on the internet and tape it up where you can see it. And try finding art that challenges you and is interesting. A good rule is to reject the normal and go for something you wouldn't usually choose.

Go to church. I know, it sounds weird, but I have received some of my best ideas while sitting in church. That's why I always take a notebook with me everywhere I go. While the speaker is going on it's easy to jot down an idea or make a thumbnail sketch. I look at it as a kind of forced meditation.

Keep a dream journal. Most of what you dream makes no sense but once in a while you'll wake up and the greatest thing since sliced bread will have just ran through your head. Write it down quick. Dreams fade fast. And if later on it sounds like a crackpot idea, remember you don't have to use it just because you wrote it down.

Take a break. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, so instead of fighting it, forget about it. Let your subconscious figure things out and go do something else for a while. While playing basketball or reading a book you'll be amazed at what ideas will jump into your head.


Anonymous said...

Right on Bro! I am always inspired at church particularly during a long boring sermon. I usually fall asleep so I take my dream notebook with me. It works everytime.

a.k.a. Brady said...

Lol! I should've thought of that!