People keep asking what inspires me & how I stay inspired. I thought this was a topic for the experts but I’m realizing something – I’m an expert in my own process. And I’d love to share it. Here are 8 tips to STAY INSPIRED.
1. Regular inspiration gathering outings
This is probably my biggest creative practice. Inspiration is everywhere and there are so many opportunities to tune into it. Some of my favourite expeditions are: wandering around the city feeling like part of something and noticing the details around me (architecture, fashion, graffiti art, human connection…). Going boutique browsing. Watching a great film. Taking a nature walk, feeling the energy and freshness and noticing little details. Having a great talk with a creative ally. Watching a TED talk. Oh and of course Pinterest browsing – almost too much inspiration there. Anything that takes you out of your daily perspective and environment will refresh you and jolt your mind. Things pop out and ideas begin spilling forth. I need to do this frequently or my lens on the world dulls a bit. My friend calls it living like an artist.
2. Follow your own rhythms
Give yourself permission to follow your own rhythms. Work when your mind is clearest and your creativity peaks. For some this is really early in the morning. For me this is late afternoon to midnight-ish, and sometimes well into the wee hours of the morning. It’s not always practical when you’re a mom, but I try to create windows of opportunity. And rhythms aren’t only on a daily basis – there are all kinds of rhythms over weeks, months and years that creative people can harness. PMS is an incredibly intuitive and creative time. Some artists turn out work over a few months and recover for a few more. Embrace the rhythm that feels right to you (as much as you can – within the context of life, family, motherhood, work etc it’s not always possible).
3. Use your experiences and emotions in your work
Instead of looking for things to use in your art, turn it around and look at art as a way of expressing your way in the world. Tap into your own experiences in life. This gives you endless material, is a way of processing things and is a very effective healing tool. Think of it as an outlet for growth. Here’s a great quote Mindy Lacefield shared at the Sugar and Spice art retreat last year: “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite – getting something down. –Julian Cameron, The Artist’s Way. So there you go, get it down.
A habit I got from the lovely Danielle Daniel is to do a short writing exercise before you paint. Have a few prompts and free write. I find it warms me up and removes any blocks that might have been in the way. And of course I love to rip up my journal pages after and use them in my art!
5. Schedule time for solo creative retreats
Schedule off a few days for a solo retreat a few times a year. Clear your schedule and prepare beforehand to set the tone for the kind of experience you want to create. Set some goals and targets, gather reading materials & writing prompts, stock the kitchen and do batches of cooking so there are healthy foods on hand, have your yoga mat and running shoes ready, put together some music playlists and put a fresh set of sheets on the bed. And then simply follow every instinct on what you want to do next. There is no structure or schedule. Fully immerse yourself in your solitude. I’m lucky that my family heads out of town when I do my retreats so I usually get to stay in my own studio. Booking a B&B, cabin or a room at an Inn would be great too. Many people have asked how I manage to find the time for my solo retreats – my answer is, I make them a BIG priority which usually means giving something else up. I treat them as seriously as I would if I were catching a plane and investing in an expensive event somewhere else.
*Travelling to retreats and learning from teachers and other creative souls is wonderful too!
6. Trust your instincts & work your own way
This is a biggie. Mainstream society seems to often value logic over intuition, practicality over creativity, self-control over emotion, productivity over quality/ joy of use, etc. Women tend to have a more feminine approach and work differently. We tend to be more intuitive and emotional and it doesn’t always fit with the mainstream ways. For some people working slowly and intentionally is part of an important creative process that yields the best results. For me, following my instincts is at the heart of how I work, and it took me years to figure this out and stand tall and be proud of it. Acknowledge and embrace these parts of who you are, and trust that they will serve you well.
7. Incorporate tiny creative releases into your days
For me it’ll be sketching or zentangle for awhile, then it will shift to cooking and creating new things in the kitchen for awhile, then it will shift to nurturing the garden, then it will be a stretch of painting in the studio… it changes, often. But the habit is there and it always involves doing something with my hands – regular small things I do that release creativity into my day.
8. Be careful about looking at others too much
It’s great to look at what’s out there, who’s creating what, and what you like. Especially when you’re first exploring your creative style. But over time you need to step away from this and focus more on your own interactions with the world around you, your own interpretations of what you see and feel, and put your own heart and soul on the canvas. I feel like having a few key anchor mentors or idols that linger in the back of your mind is good, and you can often see they are influencing your work, but you’re not looking at their stuff frequently or it suppress your own unique creativity from flowing. Also looking at others too much can lead to comparing yourself too much, which I just don’t find helpful.
9. Let go of inspirations being fixed
We can hold ourselves to some strange rules sometimes – if I once loved florals it means I will always love florals. This may not be true. Allow yourself to change your mind, to evolve and grow out of things. It’s a necessary part of evolving your creative style and staying inspired. This great gal reminded me of this recently.
I have a pile of books going all the time, which I don’t read in any kind of order. I pick them up and read bits here and there that speak to me at the time. There are a few blogs I follow, and a couple of magazines. It would be interesting to know the science behind what happens in your brain when you read vs watch TV, but for now all I can say is I am much more inspired and creative when I opt to read instead of plunk myself in front of the box that talks.
Thanks for reading & hope there is something new in here that you’ve learned. How do you stay inspired? Leave a comment and let me know.