I’ve been noticing over the past few years, as I’ve focused more on my writing career, the wide variety of ways I feed my creativity. I’m blessed with lots of ideas, so I rarely have to struggle with “what to write about.” Nearly everything I experience can lead to a new tangent of thought that in turn becomes something I just have to write about. I think it’s a matter of being open and leaving time in my schedule for pondering.
Even though I’ve primarily written non-fiction thus far, my creativity is fed by fictional universes as much as by the experiences I have on this physical plane. Also, my writing is nurtured by doing other creative activities, like playing music or creating art. Even when I’m not especially good at something, trying a new medium often sparks ideas for my primary craft of writing.
If you’re looking for inspiration or trying to get past some sort of block or plateau in your own creative pursuit(s), here are some ideas for sparking your imagination and getting the creative energies flowing again. If some of these seem to serve as distractions rather than inspirations, that’s okay too. Sometimes you just need to take a break and let it be.
Dive into some fictional worlds. Read, watch, listen, and play. It’s all about stories and imagery, and letting your own imagination wander in new directions. What’s inspiring you right now? For me, currently it’s reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Watching Game of Thrones (I’ve read all the books already) and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Listening to all kinds of music from dub step to folk to Scottish rock to classical to who-knows-what. Seeing the new Captain America movie. Playing the card game Killer Bunnies.
Practice in a different space. You already know how key regular practice of your craft is, right? Often we get into a routine with our practice sessions. Shake it up a bit. Do your practice somewhere new – outdoors, at a cafe, at a friend’s house. Or try a different method, a different time of day, or even just a new mindset. Color outside the lines.
Learn a new art. Trying a new creative activity can inspire waves of fresh ideas! Whether you take a dance class, start an art journal, or try your hand at beading, come to it with a playful, open attitude. It’s not about the end product, but rather seeing how the process lights up new pathways in your imagination. You might stick with it or not – it doesn’t matter. Use your experience as material for your craft, whether directly (everything is material for a writer) or indirectly.
Explore your dreams. If you can remember your nighttime dreams, they are a huge reservoir of awesome idea seeds, gifted to you from your inner being. Play with images and plots, characters and symbols. Write dream poetry. Sketch your dream city. If you don’t recall your dreams, tap into your daydreams. Doodle, gaze into space, and see what arises in your mind’s eye.
Allow unstructured time. Creative people need down time. Well, everyone needs it, but it seems that the creative life goes in waves. Sometimes you’re so full of material that you feel like you’ll burst, and you just have to get your creations out into the world. Other times you need to rest, recharge, and take in new input. Don’t force yourself to work during those times. Yes, you’ll still want to practice, and you should, but don’t expect the output to be part of a serious project. Play. Daydream. Read. Stare off into space. Don’t feel guilty about it – this, too, is part of your personal creative process.
These are just a few of the many ways to open yourself to inspiration. The most important thing to do, though, is to discover your own way of becoming inspired. It might involve travel, or a trip to an art gallery, or checking out your favorite Pinterest boards. You are a unique being, and you are intrinsically creative. Trust the process and observe what ideas, experiences, and places really light you up. Follow the trail.