How do you go about finding your inspiration? These seven steps will help you get a hold of your elusive muse.
Some days, inspiration just flows naturally. Maybe because you already have a project lined up that you can’t wait to get started on. Or you’ve had this art journal page in your head for ages and it needs to come out. Maybe you need to art out a current emotion. Whatever the case, inspiration is easily found and you can make the best of your time.
Other days, however, you sit at your desk, in your studio, or in front of a blank page, and nothing comes. How do you go about finding your inspiration when your mind is just drawing blanks? A while ago, I created a seven-step process that has reliably helped me get my creative juices flowing again.You don’t have to follow all steps in order – listen to what feels right to do.
1. Turn off your screens.
Most of us spend almost our entire day in front of a screen. Whether in the office, at home on your laptop or in front of the TV – we voluntarily and involuntarily stare at screens all the time. I’m not going to tell you this is a terrible thing and never to do it again – I’m a blogger, I love my laptop. I do think, however, that when your inspiration is acutely low, your screen will not be helpful. You may tell yourself you are browsing for inspiration, but more than likely what you will be doing is to distract yourself. So: Turn off all electronic devices for an hour. Enjoy a bit of silence, read a book, play with yarn, fabric or paint. Give your tactile senses something to do!
2. Get Out.
As in, outside. Close the door behind you and get a bit of fresh air! Spending all day in closed rooms robs us of a lot of energy. Take a walk, maybe bring your camera or just focus on your breathing and the movement of your body. If it’s warm enough, lie down in the grass and watch the clouds for a bit. Time spent in nature helps clear your head and makes finding your inspiration that much easier – because you’re allowing it to come to you!
3. Turn your screen back on.
Used right, Pinterest and Instagram can help you get inspired. Just make sure you don’t get sucked into a vortex of pseudo-inspiration and pin everything you see for the next two hours. That’s why I recommend taking a screen break before you come back to Pinterest. When you do, look specifically for projects similar to what you want to do. Ask yourself: What do you like about this in particular? Is it the colours or textures, the materials used? What would you change about it? How could you create this using the materials that are currently at your disposal?
4. Create a mood board.
Mood boards are a go-to recipe for finding your inspiration. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what it is you want to do, go analog. Don’t leave things on your Pinterest board. Focus on the images you collected that best describe the project you are going for. Print them and paste them onto a large cardboard or pin them to your cork board. A physical mood board has one big advantage: You are not limited to images. If it makes sense for your project, you can also pin or glue on ephemera such as post cards, fabric scraps, tickets, maps, magazine clippings, pieces of ribbon, washi tape, and so on. Don’t overload your mood board – strive for a consistent, clear feeling. You’re at least halfway to finding your inspiration when you manage this!
5. Start something. Anything.
If none of this is really working, forget that project you were going to start or continue. Just do anything creative, even if you don’t feel inspired. Just starting can sometimes be the hardest thing. Once you begin, more often than not, your inner blockage begins to dissolve. You could simply paint stripes of colour on white paper for half an hour. It doesn’t even have to be fun – curse under your breath if that helps! Maybe you could colour a mandala. Or create backgrounds for your art journal, without processing them further. In the end, you might have created something beautiful despite not feeling like it at all. And even if not – finding your inspiration often means digging through inner blockages, and getting creative, even if uninspired, is a great way to do this.
6. Destroy something.
What you just made is plain terrible? Perfect. Destroy it. Rip it up! Maybe you can make a collage from the pieces! Or paint over it, glue stuff on it, start over. It’s your art. Do what you like. Destroying and starting over are part of the process, and they can release great creative energies! Sometimes, you need to get something out of your system, and destruction can be a very cleansing part of that process!
7. You can’t force inspiration
You can certainly coax it, pave the way, entice it to come back to you. But you cannot force inspiration. So if you have gone through all of these steps and you’re nowhere closer to feeling inspired, leave it be.
Maybe right now, you need something different. A nap? A big cup of coffee or tea? An episode of your favourite series? A jog around the park? A chat with a close friend? Become still and quiet, and listen. Ask: What do I need right now?
Inspiration will come back. Take good care of yourself in the meantime. It may not return to you today, or even tomorrow, but it will come back. Trust in the process!
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