How to Find Inspiration When You’re Running on Empty
Suffering from a creative block? Fresh out of new ideas on how to find inspiration? Read on to discover five weird and wonderful tips that will help you back on your way.
We’ve all been there: staring at the wall with not a single ounce of inspiration to kickstart the creative process. And if you’re expected to create on a regular basis, then it’s possibly a problem you’ve faced countless times before.
Fascinated to hear how other people top-up their cup, I reached out to my community for some advice to address the challenge of how to find inspiration. Read on to see if any of their tips could set you right.
Rediscover physical media
Our brain works differently when we work without screens. It actually makes a lot of sense to ditch the endless browser tabs and seek inspiration from physical media instead. Especially when you consider how many other people are looking to the same Instagram accounts and digital platforms to garner inspiration from – is it any wonder we see similar creative outputs ‘trending’?
“When I’m stuck on a project or design, I always return to physical media for inspiration, either books in my library or magazines” says sign painter and glass gilder, Alex Hughes. “I always find unusual or lesser seen examples of design or ideas that get me inspired.”
Similarly, when it comes to searching for inspiration, graphic designer George Selwyn-Brace opts for physical media whenever possible. “I always keep physical swatches on my desk even though I mostly work digitally. It’s more inspiring to just serendipitously leaf through some pages till something catches my eye.
“I love anything which narrows down the field of colour choices for me from the 16,777,216 possible hex codes in digital. A client even once posted me a leaf from his favourite oak tree which I Pantone matched and used as the brand colour for his website and branding.
“The same goes for other kinds of references too. I’m just finishing up a concept for a fashion re-selling app and I have a book of Dieter Rams stereos, record players and pocket calculators sitting on my desk as reference for the app’s user experience.”
Meditate on a masterpiece
Think back to what originally compelled you to commit to your chosen field. If you work in a creative capacity, it’s likely that you saw or experienced something awe-inspiring. Something that moved you and made you think “I want to do that”. Consuming the amazing works of others can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing again when you’re wondering how to get inspiration.
Meditating on a masterpiece can re-energise you during a creative lull. For visual and creative consultant, Tom Sykes, this practice provided a much-needed sense of peace too.
“I used to sit in front of a biblical painting at the V&A and listen to music. I’m not even religious, but there was something great about sitting in a really quiet room. It gave me a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of London and feel inspired again.”Tom Sykes, Visual and Creative Consultant
While it’s great to be able to take your time to get back into your creative headspace, not everyone has the luxury to drop everything. Sometimes all you need is a quick fix.
“Deadlines don’t allow me to step away from the laptop and take a walk. So, a quick fix for me is watching music videos. Specifically, I mean the A$AP Rocky, Slowthai, mind-bending types” explains creative Tahiera Overmeyer.
“I don’t know what it is about really creative music videos, but they get me excited to get started on a new idea.”
“There’s something magical about not having any screens or headphones and tuning to a completely different soundscape and vista.”Olly Rzysko, Founder and Marketing Director
Forest bathing? what’s that all about? Well, firstly it has nothing to do with bathtubs. The bathing part is more about allowing yourself to become completely submerged in the trees and the nature around you, in order to relax and clear your mind.
“I’m a big fan of forest bathing,” says founder and marketing director, Olly Rzysko. “There’s something magical about not having any screens or headphones and tuning to a completely different soundscape and vista. You can do it in a park sometimes and just get a bit lost and enjoy the outdoors.”
Mindfulness is key though. According to writer and brand strategist, Leona Ford, breathing deeply and taking in your surroundings on a sensual level will enhance the experience.
“It’s not just about walking in a forest, but mindfully walking in a forest. Taking in the sights, smells, colours, sounds and focusing your mind on being fully present – rather than fixating on the work. It’s all about creating space for new ideas. And I find I get some of my best ideas when I’m out walking, deliberately thinking about nothing. Suddenly inspiration will pop up out of nowhere.”
Cold water therapy
Wim Hof fans will know all about the benefits of cold water. For anyone who’s yet to discover, frequent exposure to cold water can improve everything from metabolism and inflammation to our quality of sleep and ability to focus. It’s no wonder then, that more and more creative professionals are turning to sea swimming, ice baths or even a cold shower when inspiration is lacking.
“I’ll usually practise some Wim Hof breathing while I’m in the water, which makes the cold a little more bearable and it gets your circulation going even more. A cold shower is a great alternative and is less time consuming since you don’t have to leave home” says writer and brand strategist, Leona Ford.
“I’m lucky to live near the sea, and it’s take-your-breath-away cold all year round. Nothing jolts you back to life like sea swimming.”Leona Ford, Writer and Brand Strategist
Be a kid
“The childlike joy of playfulness can really get us out of our adult state of mind and into a whole different headspace.”Olly Rzysko, Founder and Marketing Director
Sometimes, being an adult can be sigh-inducing. All the responsibility and pressure leave little time for having fun and the freedom to play. The childlike joy of playfulness can really get us out of our adult state of mind and into a whole different headspace. A headspace that is freer, more instinctive and more creative. When it comes to switching up that perspective, Olly Rzysko highly recommends a little healthy regression.
“Kids have endless energy. I like going to the park with my kids and getting on the swings, being silly and just enjoying it. Kids see things differently so getting down on their level and doing what they do can shift your perspective in a great way.”
So, the next time you find yourself wondering how to get inspiration when it’s seemingly run dry, try some of these tips. You’ll never know what works until you give it a try. If you have your own tried and tested methods, feel free to share in the comments.