Tuesday, 3 May 2016

5 Ideas to Be Inspired Every Day

Inspiration has not always been my friend. There have been times when it’s been the notable absence at the table and other times it’s been the unwelcome guest that just won’t shut up. That being said, I prefer the latter, as I find the day to day grind can get me down if I don’t have any wild ideas running through my mind. And they don’t always translate into fantastical ideas for stories but can include a new approach to a project at work, or a solution to a life problem I’ve been wrestling with unsuccessfully; inspiration is for everybody, not just creatives! But getting inspired is not a guarantee and can easily be drowned out by more immediate concerns. So here’s my list of things I’ve found that help to keep those crazy ideas flowing;

Look After Yourself

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stressed, depressed or otherwise so miserable that all ideas dry up and I end up comatose in front of a monotonous TV show (normally involving property). It’s so easy to fall into a negative cycle of not feeling inspired, being unhappy and that in turn leading to yet more struggles to be inspired. If you ever feel like this, then stop. Stop judging yourself, stop pressuring yourself and stop finding yourself wanting. Put creative work on hold and simply do something you enjoy. Easier said than done but it’s worth trying. Also, if you think you may be in a depressive cycle then the best thing you can do is what feels right for you. Everyone says you should talk to someone about it but if you’d prefer to stick forks in your eyes than I recommend Hyperbole and a Half: it’s an online blog from a few years ago and it genuinely helped me when I was in a really low mental state. The writer’s posts about depression rang a bell and helped me through and to see the funny/ridiculous side of the situation. Seriously, go buy her book; it’s awesome.

Always Be On The Lookout

Assuming you are in a reasonable mental state one of the biggest reasons you may be lacking inspiration is you’re just not seeing your environment anymore. We get so used to the lives we lead it can be easy to miss those little moments on the walk to work or on public transport that could give you your next great idea. Now, I’m not advocating eavesdropping on other people’s conversations but… actually, that’s exactly what I’m recommending. Especially for any writers out there who have to tackle dialogue; picking up the natural cadence of how others speak, their vernacular and even the content of their conversations will really help the juices flow when you want to make sure your characters don’t all sound like carbon copies of yourself.

Clean and Tidy Your Spaces

This is a pot-kettle-black thing to include because I’m rubbish at keeping my spaces tidy (at this moment I’m surrounded by a pile of notebooks and paper to my left, unopened mail to my right and receipts a plenty in front of my keyboard). But tidying your work space can really help the ideas to bloom, especially when you replace the clutter with items that you find beautiful, interesting or full of memories. And who doesn’t like a clean desk - no matter how short-lived.

Read More, Watch More and Learn

Lacking ideas of your own? Maybe you need to recharge your ideas battery. And there’s no better way to do that than to read, watch or listen to things that you didn’t create. Go pick up that book that’s been sitting at the top of your to-read pile for months and give yourself an hour or two in the week to work your way through it. Fit in an episode of that TV show you’re obsessed with, or that podcast you just can’t get out of your head. But rather than just absorb and move on, try writing out what it is you love about the thing. What do you hate about it? What would you do differently? Just analysing the mediums we consume can really help us see our way to new ideas of our own.

Make Time

All of this takes time, as any endeavour does. It needn’t take a lot of time but it needs to be scheduled into your day. Think about it; when the laundry needs done, you make time to do it. When you need to fill your empty cupboards you make the time to go to the store and buy stuff. Inspiration isn’t a chore but start treating it like one - at first you’ll struggle to come up with anything but as your brain gets in the habit of thinking a certain way, at a set time each day, the ideas will come and will even start to arrive outside of your designated “inspire me” time. Which leads to...

Keep a Notebook With You At All Times

We’ve all heard it, multiple times, but seriously - get a notebook or an app on your phone where you can write your ideas down no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I use Evernote as it syncs automatically, meaning I have access to all my crazy ideas and thoughts on my phone, my laptop and my main computer. I used to use an actual physical notebook but found it was tricky to pull the thing out my bag and surreptitiously write down my thoughts sitting in a pub with my friends or in the middle of meetings. Using my phone I just come off as being rude and uncultured rather than a special kind of crazy.

Hopefully this little list has given you some starters to work on but I’m always on the look out for more inspiration ideas. What techniques have you used to stay inspired?

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