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Looking For Inspiration vs. Practicing Creativity

I used to be the guy who would wait around for inspiration before I would make something. Sometimes I still am that guy. But I know that since I get paid to be creative I have to be on top of my game and show up ready to kill it. So I practice creativity as opposed to looking for inspiration, I get inspired through intentional practices throughout my week.

When you’re looking for inspiration you often look in the wrong places. I know I used to look at other peoples work and photo blogs in hopes that I’d feel inspired but instead it just confirmed that I sucked and that they were awesome. (Which wasn’t true but that’s what this search for inspiration will do for you.) While this option may feel productive, the result often for me is lack of creativity and frustration. All that work and inspiration never really came to fruition.

When you’re practicing creativity, one of the things I do is give my brain the stuff it needs in order to create stuff, form opinions and original ideas. This works because my brain needs to connect and organize information before I can make something new. It collects my experiences, thoughts, and what I’m learning to make something that is uniquely mine. Not only do I miss the comparison problem here but you are intentionally growing your creativity instead of passively hoping for inspiration. Creativity is not about looking for inspiration. It’s about being intentional.

Creativity is Intentional

In Todd Henry’s book The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant At A Moments Notice, He talks about this idea and he accurately describes it as Stimuli. Stimuli is what your brain absorbs throughout your day. Examples of this can be anything from music, books and videos to concerts, hiking or seminars. Think for a second about what your information diet looks like on a regular basis. Does you start out with Facebook and Email? or a book or podcast? Does it include something new once a week? Something different from your daily routine?

Todd says that Stimuli is what we take in and what we take in is what is going to come out.

Make sure it’s good.

Ideas for good Stimuli:
Start your day with a book.
schedule in some time this week and listen to a podcast. (Like: EntreLeadership, The Accidental Creative, or another subject your interested in)
Watch a presentation on something you’ve never heard about (Ted Talks are easy for this)

Once you’ve used these up, Put 5-7 more in you “Queue” so you don’t have to go looking for new stuff each time. Every time I see something I might like to read or watch pop up in Facebook or what ever, I throw it into an app called Pocket so that I have easy access to it later. There are several like this but this one if my favorite.

Happy Hump Day, folks.

  • Lee-Ann - Slight irony: you inspired me with this post. Thanks for being a source of Stimuli!ReplyCancel

  • verdant1 - You make an excellent point. It’s very easy (and very tempting) to waft around waiting to ‘be inspired’ (whatever thta means), when in reality digging in and DOING something is when we actually get really creative. (Looming deadlines can help, too…)ReplyCancel

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