Inspiration can seem like a random occurrence. An act of fate. You might wonder why some people seem to be brimming over with ideas all of the time, while you can never figure out what to write, paint, [insert your creative passion here]. And when your job or your passion project depends on your creative output, a lack of inspiration feel fatal.
Luckily science (and personal experience!) has shown that you can jump start your inspiration and become a more creative person over time.
Here’s how you can get started.
When I wrote about creating a daily writing routine, I talked about choosing rituals that get you in a writing mindset. You can also use rituals to trigger your creativity. Do you find that you have your best ideas when you’re out for a walk or taking a shower? That’s because most of the time when our brain makes new connections, it happens subconsciously. So the next time you’re struggling with a challenge or need to come up with a new idea, spend a few minutes meditating on what it is you need to figure out and then do something else. Dance to your favourite song. Walk in a beautiful park. Go to an art gallery. Read something completely unrelated. Phone a friend. Play dress up. Draw a picture. Write a poem. Experiment and see what rituals are the best creativity triggers for you.
In fact, an anti-routine has been shown to be an important ingredient for inspiration. Changing your routine regularly stops your mind from going on autopilot. Providing new sensory inputs by trying new things or doing something in a different way, will trigger your mind to think more creatively. But there are some things that, when done regularly, will turn you into a prolific idea machine. Borrow a page from James Altucher and create a list of 10 new ideas everyday. Consume a wide variety of culture – not just stuff related to your field or things you easily understand. Read, watch, and look at diverse sources of material. And always carry a notebook to write your ideas down right away. Ideas are tricky things and they’ll vanish quickly if you don’t do something with them.
Inspiration happens when you do the work. When you sit down every day and put your hands on the keyboard, pick up the paintbrush, or practice your moves – whatever it is that you do. It’s natural that your ideas will be bad at first. Our brains are lazy and at first push they’re basically regurgitating memories. So we need to stick with it. Push through to the slightly better ideas and the even better ones after those to the completely genius strokes of inspiration that make our spines tingle with our excitement. It’s why we need to write, re-write, edit, and then re-write again. Saying that you’re not creative or don’t have any ideas is a cop out. Do the work and the ideas will come to you.
What do you when you’re feeling uninspired? I’d love to hear!