How To Get Inspired: Top 5 Tips for Finding Inspiration
Many times, inspiration has a way of showing up at the most inopportune moments and when you need it most, it has a way of deciding not to show up. This quick guide is meant to help you through those moments when you are pressed for time and need to produce results. Like many things in the creative space, it’s best to practice and find ways that work best for you, but when you get the ball rolling it’s hard to get it to stop. Many of our readers are songwriters producers and musicians, but this guide is not specific to our audience. Let’s call it a “catch-all” for creatives across the whole spectrum.
What Is Inspiration?
Let’s start by defining what inspiration is not. Inspiration is not a magical place where all of your great ideas pop out of nowhere. It isn’t something that just shows up at your beck and call, and it most certainly isn’t something that fixes all of your problems.
Inspiration is a skill that is developed. It’s your brain’s ability to read between the lines and paint outside the box.
Much like those of us who have attempted to get into shape, we know that motivation is very similar. Inspiration and motivation are like long-lost cousins. You may be able to be motivated and inspired to go to the gym for a week, but after about a month the will to continue is much harder to develop.
How do we develop inspiration?
Do not skip to the next step before your doing this first.
First, we need to get the train rolling. This part is easier said than done, but all you need to do is start doing something to get the creative juices flowing. Much like our example of going to the gym: the hardest part is getting there.
If you are writing a song or an essay, it doesn’t matter what you write about. Just start playing a few chords you’ve never played before or write a few words that you never thought would go together. Most importantly, keep an open mind as to what you are creating can become. Do this without personal judgment or malice, and most importantly do everything in your power not to get frustrated or upset.
Next, be patient. It may take 10 – 15 minutes to get things flowing, but if you are not used to this initial step, 10 – 15 minutes may seem like an eternity. Remember to stay calm and level-headed.
This is the next step:
If you are still having a hard time getting through, try using your 5 senses to pull a bit harder, but remember if you attempt to do this without first priming your brain, you are likely to get more distracted than inspired. Remember that the intention is to find something that will fuel your inspiration. Once you’ve found it, use it. Do not continue to consume inspiration without creating it.
- Sight: Look at painting or photographs that will inspire an emotion or train of thought. Art has a way of inspiring art, so anything goes here. Graffiti, Dali, Picasso, or even magazines can fuel inspiration. Be careful about using videos as inspiration, they are the most distracting of the bunch.
- Smell: Sometimes the smell of the open-air or NYC sewer has a way of bringing out the words from where you didn’t think to find them.
- Touch: Try laying on the grass or carpet. Maybe the cold floor will tell you more about yourself than you even realize.
- Hear: Find inspiration in the sounds of the city streets or birds in the morning. Listing to your surroundings and you’ll be surprised what you can conjure up.
- Taste: The taste of food, wine, or bitter spirits – grilled cheese and onion rings. All of those ingredients tell a story better story than you thought they would.
A word of caution
From my experience, it’s best to not turn to external sources for inspiration. Rather, don’t let that be your only way of finding inspiration. Inspiration comes from many places, but if your only source comes from drugs or alcohol it will inevitably impair your judgment and leave you more clouded than originally intended. These tools and exercises should only be used to spark the flame, not control the fire.