As a creator, inspiration is the kindling that fuels the fire of your success.
Sure, there’s the actual making and selling of your products that takes place, but these processes aren’t possible without some inspiration. But what do you do when you inevitably suffer through a creativity drought? Do you have a strategy ready to deploy for reinvigorating yourself?
If there was a formula for inspiration, we’d all be creating things around the clock. But that’s not how the human brain works. Inspiration comes in peaks and valleys. If you’re in the valley, then you need to make an effort to climb out. Here are some unique options for getting inspired - no matter where you find yourself.
Take a Class in Another Creative Niche
As a creator, there’s something really valuable about learning from a creator or artisan in another niche. You have a lot in common with other creators, even if the specific work you do is totally different. For example, a woodworker and a software developer might produce two totally different end products, but the way they approach development and design may be surprisingly similar.
Give it a try! Take some introductory classes from a creator in another niche and see what happens. While you may not be interested in becoming proficient at the skill, there’s immense value in learning from someone who is talented and creative.
Study a Process From Start to Finish
Creativity may not have a formula, but there’s definitely value in seeing the progression of something move from idea to reality. If you’re lacking inspiration, you may find value in picking a process that you’re totally unfamiliar with and tracing it from start to finish.
Consider the winemaking process for example. You may occasionally enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, but do you know what goes into making the end product that you enjoy so much? There are five unique stages: harvesting, crushing and pressing, fermentation, clarification, and aging and bottling. Studying the progression from harvesting to bottling could give you a new perspective that will stimulate creative parts of your brain.
Get More Sleep
You need to be proactively doing things in order to rediscover inspiration, right? Not always. Sometimes the best thing you can do is give your brain a rest. Specifically, there’s a growing body of research that suggests sleep aids creativity.
The period of coming out of sleep is known as the hypnopompic state, which is characterized by rich imagery from the dreams experienced during REM sleep. However, the period leading up to sleep is equally important. Painter Salvador Dali famously used the hypnagogic state to inspire his work. He would place a key on a metal plate, which would fall from his grip as he slipped from consciousness. Then, upon waking, Dali would record his thoughts.
Instead of pushing yourself to work 60 hours in a week, focus on getting more sleep. It’s entirely possible, likely even, that a 40-hour week with more sleep could prove more fruitful.
Try Floatation Therapy
Have you heard of floatation therapy? It’s the act of using a sensory deprivation chamber to relax the body and put you into a deep meditative state. While most people use floatation therapy to help with health conditions and chronic pain, it can also be utilized as a method for enhancing creativity.
“As you float, your brain produces slower brain-wave patterns, or theta waves, which are normally only experienced just before you fall asleep, during a deep meditation, and when you wake up,” expert Alex Ziegler points out. “Theta brain waves are usually accompanied by vivid imagery, sudden inspirations, feelings of profound peace and joy, and creative thoughts.”
Some people have even been known to reach a state of lucid dreaming, where you actually realize you’re dreaming and have the ability to control your experience. Think of it like a natural high that allows you to channel your inner creative spirit.
Spend a Day Totally Unplugged
When was the last time you spent an extended period of time totally unplugged from electronics? Not just your smartphone or computer - even things like microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and calculators could be added to the list. Most people have honestly never spent an entire day totally unplugged, granted it can be a luxury to be able to take that time away.
What if you challenged yourself to detach from the convenience of electronics and the internet for an entire day? Instead of browsing social media, you read a book. Instead of using the automatic timer on your coffeemaker, you boil water and make it yourself. Instead of using a word processor on your computer, you grab a notebook and write with a pen or pencil.
Suddenly, even though you’re doing similar tasks, you’re taking a totally unique approach that requires you to process different steps. Everything requires effort and brainpower. This hands-on approach will allow you to see the world in a unique way that will, hopefully, ignite some innovation and creativity in your mind.
Try Something Weird
Creativity and innovation don’t come from doing the same thing over and over again. If your day involves the same routine, processes, and timeline, then no wonder you lack inspiration. You’re burned out and trying to be creative in an environment that lacks stimulation.
Try something unique - something you’d never do under normal circumstances - and see what happens. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll be in the same place as before. The best-case scenario is that you’ll discover some new piece of inspiration that drives creativity and gets you back on track.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffPost.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.