#PROGRESS

My Top 5 Methods for Finding Inspiration

If you are lucky enough, and your mind is always open, creative ideas will often come to you like a strike of lightning. But if they don’t, then having some go-to methods for finding inspiration in the world around you can be really helpful.

Whenever I feel uninspired or experience any form of writer’s block, I have to actively seek and chase inspiration and creative ideas. Here I’ve put together a handy little list of my top 5 methods that you can implement right now to boost your creativity:

Take in a good piece of art

Looking at a painting like a Picasso can help me spark a creative idea. A great painting can be full of contrast. It can have strong colors or rough shapes. It can be complex with a clear meaning, or simple with an indistinct and not-so-easy-to-grasp meaning.

By just looking at a beautiful art piece, I can often hear melodies, chord progressions, or come up with new and interesting design ideas. Usually they’re very out-of-the-box, and the better the work of art, the better the idea.

Just think about it, humans have created and stared at images drawn onto walls for thousands of years, longer than we’ve had the written word. It clearly has an effect on us.

Provide limitations

Less tools often means more creativity.

Not having a lot of resources at your disposal, and being limited to only a few tools, forces and challenges the brain to think of new and creative ways of working.

So instead of thinking: “I have to buy this” or get this new equipment that everyone is using, try “I can just be creative with what I have here and now”. Or “I can even remove some tools that I have and try to accomplish the task”.

By using this method, you’ll come up with magical and innovative ideas that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and the ideas will be more unique. More you, and more real!

Daymond John, the entrepreneur and founder of Fubu, has a book called: “The Power Of Broke” which is kind of about this principle of dealing without.

Limitations

Steal from the greats

Yes, it’s allowed to copy the greats, and you should!

Steve Jobs stated that when he and his team developed the Macintosh, he kept in mind a quote from Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

It comes down to exposing yourself to the best things ever created, and bringing those things into what you’re doing. Think about it – when we are learning the piano, we play compositions of other composers, not our own. When we play sports, we follow the game others invented, not our own creations. When we dress ourselves, we choose fashions created by others before we design our own. Copying builds expertise.

I’m not suggesting straight duplicating or being a lazy thief, but adding a twist, a great idea here and there, and turning it into something greater. This method can spark new and interesting ideas that you most likely wouldn’t have thought of from only using your own mind’s imagination.

We’ve seen it again and again where great masters have found inspiration in their predecessors, and taken what was good about them, and by doing this, they themselves became great.

Search out new surroundings

Stepping out of the normal way of doing things and into new surroundings can often inspire the brain to think of new thoughts.

Maybe you’ll see things you haven’t seen before which can lead the brain into new creative wanderings. Ever tried walking through your supermarket backwards to the way you normally do? You’ll see products you’ve never seen before. Try a different route home from work, or a TV channel you’ve never looked at.

You can journey to new places, maybe to other countries, cultures, or just spend time outdoors and immerse yourself in nature. New scents, people, sceneries and things that are uncommon to you can expand your vision. It can boost your inventiveness and get you thinking creatively.

New perspective

Taking a shower

Many great ideas happened in the shower.

The combination of having a relaxed state of mind, alpha waves rippling through the brain, and the water distracting you from other thoughts, is perfect for coming up with the best and most creative ideas. Pharrell Williams has even stated in an interview that one of his favorite places to work is in the shower!

Our subconscious mind is often working hard throughout the day to develop an idea, or solve a problem, to work on a project, but we’re not able to hear these insights or voices when our analytical brain is operating at full speed.

It’s not until we relax, get in the shower and remove ourselves from email and social media that we’re able to hear these voices in the back of our head.

Similar to the shower are: exercising, driving home and cooking  …if you’re good at that.

Now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Which of these 5 methods will you take into practice or use more often? Do you have other methods you want to share?

Now let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang

  • Kjetil Monkvik

    A notebook beside the bed is helpful. I usually get ideas when dreaming, short time before deadline of projects.

    • Casper Stang

      Yeah that’s a good one. A notebook, or you can use the phone to record a voice memo. My girlfriend’s phone is chock-full of melodies recorded right before sleep 🙂