Do you constantly seek creative inspiration before starting a new project? Or, do you have a daily habit of ‘researching’ ideas before you even get started? If so, this article will help you understand why seeking inspiration is hurting you creatively and how to start trusting yourself again.
Why seeking inspiration is hurting you
Have you ever felt like you’re in a creative rut? You might have writer’s block, creative block or you simply just can’t seem to find the motivation to get going.
I bet if you’re anything like me, you get frustrated and end up jumping onto Pinterest, listening to a podcast or reading an ‘inspirational’ book to give you some motivation.
But how many times have you browsed Pinterest, pinned something and then straight away went and did the thing?
I bet never, which means all you’re doing when browsing the internet and searching for creative inspiration, is:
- Dulling down your own original thoughts and replacing them with someone else’s
So instead of finding motivation (which was your intention), you end up either feeling bad about yourself and your creative abilities. Or, you start to create something that’s been unintentionally pieced together from different pieces of other people’s work.
There’s nothing wrong with genuinely being inspired by others and using their work to influence your own. But when you’re doing it at the expense of your own original creative thoughts, that’s when problems start to happen.
What is creative inspiration really?
Inspiration is a sudden thought, a trigger in your brain that comes quickly and gives you the drive to do or feel something.
It’s not a bunch of rectangular images saved to a digital board. Thanks a lot, Pinterest (I’m kidding, I love you really)! Let’s call that research instead – because that’s what it is.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
How to stop searching for creative inspiration
To stop looking for creative inspiration, you’ll need to do a little searching. So, here are a few questions you can ask yourself.
1. Where do I get my real inspiration or ideas from?
Think about the last time you had an idea or a spark of inspiration that took you by surprise. I bet you were doing something you enjoyed, or your mind was completely clear at the time.
For example, you might get your best ideas in the shower, on a walk, sitting on a train or doing a mundane task. This is because our minds are free from distracting thoughts and have only one thing to do – think.
So, in order to make creative inspiration a more common occurrence, we need to create spaces or situations that allow for it to happen.
Write down your own list of idea/inspiration making situations. Then, formulate a plan so that you can start actively making these a part of your work schedule.
2. Where am I getting my fake inspiration or ideas?
Now that you know where your real inspiration is coming from (your brain), it’s time to look at where your fake inspiration is coming from.
What I mean by this are the things that normally would inspire you, but actually fill your mind with other people’s ideas and style. While it’s good to be exposed to a variety of influences, too much can cloud your own creativity and influence your work in the wrong way.
For example, if you spend a lot of time scrolling on Instagram or Pinterest, you may be either comparing yourself to others or subliminally taking in their creative style and tastes and putting them into your own work.
Similarly, if you read a lot of magazines, watch a lot of videos in your niche, or submerge yourself in similar people’s work – you’re not doing yourself any favours.
Try to reduce or limit how much of other people’s work you’re taking in, especially when you’re trying to get more done. Taking inspiration from others is beneficial, but too much of a good thing and your work stops being yours.
If all else fails
There’s no magic answer for finding inspiration again. So if you’ve tried the above and it’s simply not working, then your mind might still be too full.
You see, if you’re in a certain creative field or business niche, then the likelihood is, you’re constantly seeing news, content and creative work from within that field.
It’s always harder to think creatively when all you’re presented with is the same ‘stuff’ you see every day. So instead, try immersing yourself into a new world.
If like me, you’re an introvert blogger, try immersing yourself in the world of plant bloggers. Or, if you’re a sculpture artist, try exploring the world of film artists. You can even take this a step further and research something you would never normally consider getting into.
This simple task acts to change your perspective from what you’d consider being everyday and normal, to something new and exciting. Your ‘inspiration’ from this new world will be just that, new.
It happens to all of us, we lose the creative inspiration we once had and so we search for something to get it started again. But with all this searching, all we find is more frustration.
You are why you’re creative. Your mind comes up with your ideas but this can only happen if you let it do its thing without distraction.
Oh and one more tip: if you have any new burning creative ideas, don’t let any outside influence in until you’ve explored it fully. You’ll feel more ownership and satisfaction when you know it’s truly yours – trust me!
How do you make sure you listen to yourself before seeking inspiration? Leave us a comment below.
Featured image by ian dooley