We seek to pinpoint the source of our creativity and hold that inspiration is the first step we take when we embark in creative journeys. We engage either in a direct form of inspiration seeking or we let the unconscious do most of the work and wait for that great idea to strike (indirect inspiration seeking).
We tend to be at our best, creatively, when there are few demands and pressures and as a result of a calm environment we are free to explore whatever emotion or memory that might surface in those moments. But when you have to create at the snap of someone else’s finger (I call this creativity on demand) inspiration is nowhere to be found.
Most creative people are familiar with the ever present fear of running out of ideas and nowhere does this fear surface more than when pressures and limitations of form, content, style, and deadlines arise.
You panic, terrified that if you run out of ideas you’ll be found out and become exposed as average, nothing special, and even a fraud. The more you panic the further you move away from creative territory into that of desperation and inability to create. As a last resort you start searching your mind for what worked last time and trace your steps to rebuild the magic formula that seemed to have worked so well in the past.
You might read some books, articles or blogs, go to a museum or admire some art actively seeking for that moment when something clicks; you look for inspiration, the source of your creative potential. We do all these things and more because we feel that we have got to do something or else how can we help ourselves?
Sometimes this active mode of searching for inspiration yields results but the results are hardly consistent or reliable, so what can you do?
Here are just a few options:
- Check your expectations. Remember that creativity is not a linear or straight forward process and acting on the assumption that it is will only increase your chances to become disappointed with the result or lack of.
- Find your place. Creativity is most likely to emerge if you allow it the space and quietude in which to expand. Creativity by definition is the process of developing new and innovative ideas. When we seek inspiration in silence and solitude we create a space free of preconceived ideas, labels, boxes, assumptions, and expectations which usually only censor us and our ability to explore the unknown. Prior to engaging in any creative endeavor I take a long walk in the park and sit by the river either to write, draw, or paint. The flow of the water create a sense of flow subconsciously and the soothing sound of the river helps me stay focused on my work rather than distracted by the hustle and bustle of the park.
- Dreams. I have found –both for myself and the people I see in my therapy practice- that dreams can be a source of tremendous inspiration. Keep a dream journal by the side of your bed and record your dreams as soon as you wake up. Some dreams, or the way we remember them, might not make a lot of sense at first but if you read through your dream journal once in a while, something will eventually click and you will get inspired.
- Develop rituals. These are things you do on a consistent basis prior to create. The repetitive nature of habits allows your mind and body to relax while giving you the ability to maintain focus on your creative project.
- Doodling and daydreaming. Like quiet and solitude, doodling and daydreaming allow your mind to wonder to unknown places. This can be an exercise in free association that allows your unconscious mind to emerge and point you in the direction that needs your attention.
Done consistently and over a long period of time, these methods can serve you well particularly in situations when your stress levels are increased and you need to be able to focus promptly.