Creativity is usually depicted as some sort of miracle, a blessing in disguise that you can’t stall, in fear that it will disappear just as soon as it arrives. But, inspiration — whether self-motivation or creative capability — is something you can develop skill with over time. Your mood, the surroundings and even your history can affect how inspired you feel throughout the day. By practicing these skills, however, you can find creative inspiration or motivation whenever you need it most:
- Do the unexpected. If you’re stuck in a rut, or maybe don’t have any past experiences to guide you, make a new experience and learn from it. You could do something as simple as traveling alone for the first time, or find a friend and go on an adventure you never would have before. The experience will help you learn, and it will broaden your perspective to consider possibilities you didn’t think you were capable before. Before you limit yourself to what could be your story, ask, “What’s stopping me?” If you can’t find a good answer, you may have found your next calling.
- Talk to a mentor. A mentor is something everyone needs throughout their life. You begin with your parents, teachers, and older siblings. As an adult, you should connect with others in your same line of work, or those who have shared similar past experiences. If you have the chance to meet someone more experienced or knowledgeable than you, seize the opportunity! You never know who has the capability to inspire you (and you may be surprised that you have something to teach them too).
- Learn by copying. This shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to steal someone else’s work or ideas, but psychologists prove that the way we all learn is to observe and imitate. If you’re working on a project that demands some level of creativity, find examples of what has been done in the past, and use them as a starting point. Sometimes all it takes is a little effort to get started. Once you have the concept for your project, or a better understanding of the problem you face, it will be easier to start and finish your work.
- Read a really good book (or at least start one). Yes, some inspirational books are cheesy, and poorly written. But, every now and then you come across something that speaks to you, and can help you put yourself in gear for the next steps you need to take. Most of the inspirational talk in a book is in the first half. If you just need to add fuel to the fire, pick up a best-seller at the bookstore and read the first few chapters. It will at least help you stay motivated as you work through whatever is stressing you.
- Sit down, and just start working. Remove the distractions, and focus only on the task at hand. This works best when you have a looming deadline or a solo project of significance to your job. Allocate enough time to be by yourself, and make everything outside your work station inaccessible. No phone, no snacks, no visitors — nothing but your ideas and whatever tools you need to work. If it helps you can play some music (nothing you know or recognize, instrumental playlists are best).
If you’re still having trouble staying motivated, consider taking some personal time off work to reflect and make the changes you know you need in your life. If you need help finding inspiration for a creative project, the time off may help you begin working from the comforts of home (minus the distractions of work). Never devalue the power of time to yourself to find the inspiration you need.
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