You make your coffee and sit down to make something awesome and… nothing. You know you want to create something awesome, but you don’t know what. This very thing happens to me far too often, and it’s the reason I’ve spent a lot of time researching and trying to discover tips and tricks on how to get inspired and stay inspired. I’ve made a list of some of my favorites to share.
Depending on your type of work and creativity, some, all, or none of these might work for you. As Austin Kleon said, “Y.M.M.V. Your mileage may vary. Some advice can be a vice. Feel free to take what you can use, and leave the rest. Life is an art, not a science. There are no rules.”
My Personal List on How to Get Inspired
1. Keep a log
This one won’t help you right now (we’re off to a good start, eh?), but it’s sure to help your future self. Inspiration often hits me when I’m not in the greatest position to sit down and do the thing I feel inspired to do. Maybe I’m cooking dinner, paying bills, or getting the kids ready for bed. I keep a running log where I can jot down just enough to spark the inspiration again, hopefully. I keep the log on an app that I can access on my phone, iPad, and computer, but paper and pen work, too. This way, when I do have a moment to sit down and create something, I have some jumping-off points.
2. Quit rewriting the drafts in your head
Bouncing ideas around in your head is fine, but they have to leave eventually if you want to make something great or make something at all. Many of the things that I’ve created that I ended up delighted with didn’t start anything like the end result. Sometimes there was no resemblance at all. I just started doing something, which inspired me to do something else, which led to being inspired to do something else that I kind of liked, and then I perfected that thing as much as I could, and I ended up with something I was really proud of.
I know “just starting” sounds easier said than done, but absolutely nothing great can be created if you don’t even start. You might not like the first draft or the third, but the final draft – the finished product- is surely better than the nothing you make that only lives in your brain.
3. Experience as much as you can
Read as much as you can. Listen to a new audiobook. Visit somewhere new. Do an activity you would never imagine yourself doing. Talk to people you don’t normally talk to. Eat food you’ve never tried before. In other words- broaden your horizons. When you expose yourself to things you might not otherwise experience, new ideas and inspirations are much more likely to come up. You’re also more likely to learn new things when you have new experiences, making the inspiration process easier and more natural.
4. Study the people you admire
You might not be able to physically surround yourself with the people you want to be like, but you can pull out your phone or laptop or head to the library and find out almost anything about the people who inspire you. Read their books, study their art, and listen to their speeches. Or maybe the people you admire most aren’t famous. If they aren’t unreachable, reach out to them and ask them to coffee. Work with them. Help them review their work if they need something like that. Find ways to soak up as much information as you can about the people you look up to most.
5. Do something that scares you
I’m not asking you to do something dangerous. Please don’t. But do something a little outside of your comfort zone. Yeah, I know. That last bit makes this one the most cliche of them all. There’s just something about being uncomfy that makes us think and react differently, and sometimes, that’s all we really need to find some inspiration.
If you’ve been a subscriber for a while, you know that I use journaling to solve many of my problems. If you’re new here, well, now you know. Journal. You don’t even need to know what to journal about. Just start writing and see where it takes you. It might take you nowhere, but you might get some ideas along the way. If you need some ideas to get you going, read 20 Journal Prompts for Inspiration. If that title isn’t clickable yet, it’s because I’m still writing it. Writing this article gave me the idea to write that article. See, number 2 works. If digital journaling is your thing, or if it’s something you’d like to try, pick up one (or all 20+) of my free journals here – no email required.
7. Write a letter to your future self
This one is pretty open-ended and really depends on where you’re at in your creative process. You can write about where you hope to be in the future, what you hope your future self has learned, something you hope to have created 5 years from now, or even just about something that you’re proud of yourself for right now. This exercise can help inspire you and lead you in the direction you need to live the life you want or create the things you want to create.
8. Remember that we are all specks on a speck
This one is obviously my favorite (the website name came from somewhere). Sometimes my lack of inspiration comes from being afraid that what I create won’t be good enough. When this happens, I just remember that I am a teeny tiny little speck on a speck floating around in this massive universe. Some people feel insignificant when they think about this, but I love it. I take comfort in the insignificance. It makes me feel like I can do anything, or at least try anything. And if I fail? Eh, no big deal. On to the next thing!
The feeling that comes from being able to explore and do anything without it feeling like a big deal opens up a whole new level of inspiration that is almost unexplainable. If you ever feel small, embrace it and write, do, or create literally anything knowing that any pressure you feel is probably magnified beyond what’s actually real.
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how to get inspired because I’ve spent a whole lot of time being uninspired and wishing and hoping for inspiration to show up magically, but it never comes. I realized that just sitting there hoping that ideas would upload into my brain exactly when I needed them to was never really going to happen (duh). So I actively started looking for ways. The list isn’t complete, and they don’t all work all the time, but they work some of the time, and that’s better than where I was before. If you can relate, I hope you could find an idea or two here to keep in your back pocket for those moments when you know you need a little extra help to get the wheels turning.
Feel free to add your own ideas for how to get inspired below!