6 Ways to Find Inspiration When You’ve Run Out of Ideas
We all reach the point of having writer’s block. Sometimes we don’t know what to do when that happens. So, what do you do when you find yourself in a rut? It’s simple. Just seek inspiration. Everyone’s way of obtaining inspiration is different, of course, but we’ve found these particular tips helpful when the idea clock stops ticking:
Take a Break
This may seem self explanatory, but you would be surprised at how effective breaks can be for someone who is knee deep in a project. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end can get in the way of your thinking process. Take a good ten to fifteen minute walk outside and see what a difference it can make. Take in your surroundings and be one with nature. This will clear your mind and help you refocus.
According to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a study in the journal Cognition has found that “the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time.” Think about it: when you put on clothes, you notice the feeling of it on your skin at first, but as soon as your mind gets used to the sensation, you no longer feel it the way you did before.
It’s no wonder our thought process turns to mush when we spend an absurd amount of time on one project. Our brains are actually telling us, “Hey! The information is getting lost. Do something about it.” As soon as your attention starts to move elsewhere, that is the time to take a break. You’ll come back refreshed and finish the work much more quickly and efficiently.
Go on a Vacation
When you have the opportunity to go on a much needed vacation, use it to your advantage. Sandra Mills writes, “traveling the world a little bit at a time can offer life experience that no amount of internet research can bring, because you are not only seeing the world, you’re getting the opportunity to taste, smell, touch, and live in the moment.” Pull ideas from everything you encounter; nature, people, architecture, food, events, etc. There is so much happening around us on a daily basis and yet we don’t really pay attention to it. Search out the fine details in life and create a story out of them. Exposure to unique situations opens your mind up to more ideas. Living in a hypothetical bubble all your life only retrains your creative thinking. The more experience you gain, the more originality you are able to produce.
Get Your Hands Dirty
There’s nothing better than feeling a sense of accomplishment, especially when you put all of your energy into something. Working on a house, adding plants to your garden, exercising, or finishing an incomplete project are just a few options you have that will inspire you to be more creative.
How does more “work” help clear your mind?
When we are under an immense amount of pressure to get our work done efficiently and on time, stress starts to form. This stress, in turn, blocks our thinking process. There is a reason why this occurs. In Entrepreneur’s blog, Sujan Patel quoted Zapier's Kathleen McAuliffe: "stress hormones inhibit activity in the brain areas involved in goal-seeking and executive function, and that causes the 'thought spirals' and paralysis that make us procrastinate and derail our projects." By taking the adrenaline from stress and using it in a better way, “good” energy will be formed, thus releasing endorphins and allowing your mind to think more critically. This is what Sujan refers to as “leveraging your adrenaline.”
Seeking new experiences as well as working on activities you know that you enjoy are the catalysts that will help you relieve stress and free up your mind for creativity.
Form a Creative Circle
At Farmore Marketing, sometimes we participate in brainstorming exercises with all of the employees in order to get our creative juices flowing. One of our ideas was to play off of three words and form a brand out of them. We came up with a name, an explanation of what they do, their slogan, and overall message. This was extremely beneficial because it allowed for ideas that had never crossed our minds.
Since the whole purpose of a creative circle is to generate unique content, collaboration is key. Everyone has different experiences, opinions, feedback, and goals. Similar to the positive effects of a vacation, exposure to these characteristics allows for a broad range of ingenuity.
Do you know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Play on that phrase and bring the images to life. Examine them and answer the questions you are asking yourself. What does it tell you? How do you feel when you look at it? What was going on in the scene during that time? Why is this image so important? I even recommend creating a scene in your head that associates with that image.
Building these type of scenarios in your head allows you to ponder ideas that you have never considered beforehand. This is similar to looking at art. Take an abstract piece for example. There is no definite answer as to what it is - it’s up to the viewer to form their own opinion about it. If you can look at a red square with blue stripes, for instance, and come up with a meaning behind it, then you are able to create a scene out of pretty much anything.
Watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music, going to a comedy show - these are all forms of entertainment that provokes a wide range of emotions; emotions that spark your creativity.
Any time we’re not sure about how we can bring our work to the next level or just can’t think of anything new, we turn to social channels as a way to pull in inspiration. One of the more prominent platforms we skim is Vimeo for unique videos. It’s a place where we can thoroughly observe other creator’s cinematography. Doing this, we can pull ideas from other artists and try out similar techniques. Having these comparisons constantly motivates us to be a better visual storyteller, too.
Whether your form of inspiration is a song, a vacation, or a creative circle, take advantage of these tips and put them to use. See what a difference it will make. Get out of that rut and seek creativity!