No matter what your medium of creativity is, you have to draw on inspiration at least sometimes in order to grow as an artist. Inspiration helps us generate new ideas and makes us excited to get out of bed in the morning and start working.
You may seek out inspiration without even realizing that’s what you’re doing; for example, if you follow artists you look up to, learning the ways they maintain inspiration could be a way you motivate yourself. Or maybe you have a friend who always leaves you feeling energized after you spend time with them. That’s finding inspiration at its finest!
But what is inspiration, exactly?
We all know what it feels like to be inspired, but we may have a harder time putting our finger on what exactly inspiration is. Psychologists have defined inspiration as motivation from an external source that causes a person to have an idea and/or produce something creatively. In simpler terms, you see or experience something—whether that’s a tree or a piece of work by someone else—that causes you to ultimately create something of your own.
How to Get Inspired? Check Out These 17 Ideas
Luckily, if you’re in a rut, wondering where to find inspiration, or fear you may be suffering from some sort of artistic block, it’s not hard to find inspiration all around you. Experiment with some of the following practices, and see what works for you.
1. Shake Up Your Routine
Even something as familiar as the city you’ve lived in for a while has inspiration to offer if you explore it in a new way. Is there a different restaurant you can order from instead of your tried-and-true? Could you do things in a different order as you go about your day today?
2. Take a Hike
Being out in nature is good for you, and moving your body is a great way to stir up new ideas. If you’ve been puzzling over a specific creative question for a while, sometimes answers will arise naturally while you’re doing something unrelated, like walking or hiking. Look up hikes in your area, and get outside.
3. Make Time to Rest
Though it’s easy to forget this, rest is an essential part of the artistic cycle. We can’t always be creating; we also have to take time to recharge and let things simmer so new ideas can rise to the surface.
Rest doesn’t always have to mean doing nothing or napping, either. It can look like reading a book, baking, or tending to your garden—anything that makes you feel peaceful.
4. Spend Time Connecting With Other Artists
Part of what’s so great about artistic communities is that artists can connect with other creatives they may not have met otherwise, and everyone is always finding inspiration from one another. Forging friendships and connections with new artists, whether in your industry or not, is a great way to start thinking in different ways and come up with new ideas.
5. Outsource or Streamline Things When You Can
Sometimes it’s not as obvious to us why we aren’t inspired. However, if you’re spending a lot of your time managing things that don’t allow you to be creative, that can be a potential block. Consider outsourcing tasks or look at ways you can streamline.
For example, if you’re spending time each day reviewing your business financials, can you instead set aside a block of time once a month or hire someone else to do it? This way, you aren’t pulling yourself away from creative work as much.
6. Try Free Journaling
If you’ve ever done The Artist’s Way 12-week program, one of the core practices within the book is called “Morning Pages,” in which you sit down and free-write three pages every day, first thing. If that feels like too much, what about sitting down to journal for a page a day, or a set amount of time each morning? Sometimes writing down what’s in our head can deliver surprising insights.
7. Just Get Started
It’s easy to get lost in the details of what needs to happen before, during, and after a project in order for it to be successful—sometimes so much so that we lose sight of the simplest part, which is that we have to actually do the work! Once you’ve started a project, you may find you’re inspired simply by the progress you’re making and that’s all you need to keep going.
8. Rearrange Your Home
Look around you. Do your surroundings make you feel good? Look up basic feng shui principles and consider moving furniture or objects around. Add fresh flowers to your space. Think about what inspires you in a physical sense, and try to make sure it’s reflected in your living space. Especially with as much time as we’ve been spending at home lately, changing up your environment can help unearth some new thoughts.
9. Listen to New Types of Music
Venture out from your usual genre of music this week. If you usually listen to classical music, what about switching it up for some jazz or an instrumental movie score? You could also check out binaural beats, which are reported to reduce anxiety and increase focus.
10. Visit a Museum
Spending time with other people’s finished art, viewing artifacts from other cultures, or learning new concepts can all spark new ideas, especially if you’re wondering how to get inspired to draw. If you can’t actually go to the museum, try a virtual tour. Either way, viewing new-to-you pieces of art—or ones you already know and love—can put you in a different mindset.
11. Try Something You Think You’re “Bad” At
Sometimes all you need is to just sit down and make time for the work, and the work will follow. You might surprise yourself with the skills you have! Use creative prompts to generate fresh ideas, or try something like a whimsical watercolor class if you’re not an experienced painter.
12. Learn About Someone Who Inspires You
Learning about other people’s creative processes or their lives can help guide you on where to find inspiration. Think about public figures or artists you admire. See if they have books or blogs you can read, TED talks you can watch, or podcast interviews you can listen to. You’ll likely learn something new you can apply to your own life.
13. Practice Mindfulness
Certain types of consciousness can help us get into a creative state more easily. Consider meditating for just a few minutes a day or, if that’s too intimidating, just spend a minute carefully observing something. You’d be surprised how in the moment you can feel after studying a flower for 60 seconds, and that awareness can help you bring fresh eyes to your work.
14. Keep an Inspiration Collection
Start a collection of references to what inspires you. For example, if you’re a writer, you could start a document full of quotes and excerpts from your favorite stories. When you’re feeling low on original ideas, you could review some of these in order to get the wheels turning again.
15. Think About Your Childhood Hobbies
What did you love to do when you were a kid? Oftentimes we put away our childhood hobbies for more “adult” pursuits as we get older, but connecting with your inner child can be a great way to get creative. There’s no reason to be embarrassed for wanting to break out the Play-doh or play around with watercolors, no matter your age.
16. Write Press Releases for Your Future Projects
Write press releases for the projects you see yourself completing or that you’re currently working on, and be as detailed as possible. What is the project? What was the reception like? Revisit these regularly to keep yourself excited about your work and remind yourself what you’re working toward.
17. Volunteer to Teach Something You Know
Many times, we don’t even know how much we know until we teach someone else. Can you offer to teach someone basic photography editing or show someone how you crafted your awesome artist’s statement? Talking through your process with someone else can not only build your confidence, but it can also help you think of new ways to approach your work.
In order to keep creating, we must make sure we stay in balance. Being creative is a constant negotiation between input and output, and staying inspired requires being attuned to the world around us and being thoughtful about the ways in which we feed our creativity. We hope you’re more inspired than ever to try some of these tips!
Find Inspiration Through Science!
The Scientific Method for Artists: Find Inspiration, Get Motivated and Grow Your Creative Skills.