When creative block strikes or you are in active idea generation mode trying to brainstorm ideas and find inspiration, there are the usual places you look and turn to, to get inspired.
But if you are really stuck or just want a fresh resource to draw ideas from, it might be worth looking at trying some of these slightly more unusual places to find inspiration.
As a creative, I think it is also important to always be taking time to observe and have your eyes open to being inspired by anything and everything around you. There is beauty everywhere and in everything, even the simple, everyday, common and Mundain.
Always keep a notebook or note taking app handy, because inspiration and ideas can strike at any time and anywhere, as long as you are always open to it.
So here are five places you may have not considered, or need a reminder to explore to find creative inspiration.
1. Re-Vist Old Work
You might feel ashamed of some of your old work because your skills have developed and you have improved over time. But old work can actually re-inspire new ideas. It’s not about the quality of the work, but the concept that was behind it or even the way you went about executing it or maybe little details that you considered at the time. Looking back at old work is seeing it with a fresh set of, more experienced eyes. You might see something you didn’t pick up on originally that could spark a new idea. Or you might want to revisit an old concept and do it better. It may even just be a little detail that you included that gives you fresh ideas for details you could add to a current project. Don’t dismiss old work as something of the past, it still came from your mind, and you can build upon those old ideas with the wiser and more experienced mind you have today. After all, it’s not stealing if you steal from yourself, so looking at your old work means you can rip yourself off as much as you like.
And old work doesn’t have to be just work related to what your business or hobby, it can be anything you have created, put together, curated or designed. I think sometimes we can get caught up in our present, that it becomes too familiar and every-day, and we begin to fail to see some of the beauty and creativity. So when I look back at things from the past, including old outfits, old studio layouts, old home decoration, old projects, I start to see them the way an outsider would have seen them, and I feel re-inspired.
2. Observing Everyday Life and People.
often we turn to inspiration in other people’s work, creations and concepts. Looking at man-made objects, creations as well as nature and creation. But inspiration doesn’t always need to come from designed and created tangible things, it can also come from observing activity. Observe the intangible. Take a seat in a busy place or jump on public transport. Listen to conversations, watch interactions, observe processes and routines. We can often go through life minding our own business getting on with what we need to do, only briefly being aware of things going on around us. But if you take the time to ‘people watch’ you’d be amazed the little things you notice that would have been easily overlooked, the stories you pick up on and the characters you come across. Observe the way things are done and funny little quirks as you interact with people and businesses through your day. This is where comedians find a lot of there inspiration, and it can inspire creative and business work too.
3. Research History
There is so much to be learned and gleaned from the past. It is an immense resource. Don’t limit your inspiration to the things of today and the present world around you. There are so many avenues you can explore when researching the past and so many time periods you can draw from. Look into something that fascinates you and learn more about it. I love trams, and in my city our tram lines were all taken away in the 60s, researching the old trams has been really inspiring and fascinating. From the stories of how they used to operate, the old posters, the tram rolls, the old advertisements inside the trams, the style and design of the trams. There is always so much to learn and be inspired by looking at the past.
4. Write and Read your Writing
Creative inspiration doesn’t need to come from visual sources, it can also come from the written word. I often find this is where the deepest most meaningful idea really come from. Our minds are always spinning with thoughts, to-dos, ideas reflections, analysis and memories. There is so much going on in there, that getting thoughts out onto paper can not only help clear your mind and give you a chance to brain dump, but getting those thoughts down in words and onto paper helps you better process them and gives your mind more space to explore them rather than just hanging onto them. And it doesn’t need to be just creative or inspiring thoughts, anything going on in your head that you can get out on paper can be a useful source to draw ideas from.
One way of doing this is a method called ‘Morning Pages’ where first thing or as part of your morning routine, you get out a journal and braindump all your thoughts, just a stream of consciousness. It doesn’t need to flow or be on a certain topic, you just let all those thoughts swarming in your head get out onto paper. Then you could look back at these pages and pages you have written in the past, and little thoughts and concepts might pop out at you and spark ideas.
If this doesn’t suit, any kind of journaling thought dumping, or note scribbling can be beneficial.
It is also a good idea to have one place that you collect thoughts and notes, where you can just jot down things as you think of them, making a valuable resource to return to.
5. Look outside Your Own Industry.
We often compare ourselves to others in our own industry and fields of interest and draw inspiration fro what others in our industry are doing. But the best inspiration comes from looking at other completely unrelated industries. Expand your areas of interest and hobbies, learn about things that have nothing to do with your own line of work and look out for innovative ideas or different ways of doing things. It’ll inspire you to bring fresh ideas to your own industry, and even challenge you to break the norm. So don’t get too caught up in your own bubble of your field. If you don’t know where to start, think about a topic that interests you or an area of your life you would like to improve (e.g nutrition, fitness, relationships, housekeeping, gardening, sport, parenting, mindfulness, travel) and then start researching it, find a niche in that topic that you feel drawn to and dive into that world, see what people that teach and share about the topic do and how they share information and present it? How do they grow a community? What clever ways do they market, how do they brand and present their work? What feelings and moods do they create?
I hope this has given you some ideas of where to look and also ways to incorporate these methods of finding inspiration into your life so that you can expand your inspiration sources and have richer more unique ideas.