Every creative person is subject to the whims of a fickle muse that doesn’t always show up when we need it to. Fortunately, there are ways to make our minds a more hospitable place for ideas. Read on for twenty-one easy tips that will help you make inspiration a more frequent guest.
1 Listen to music.
Multiple studies show that music can increase creativity and focus. Research indicates that listening to classical is only really beneficial if you actually like that style of music, so listen to something you enjoy that isn’t too novel or distracting.
2 Journal every day.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and numerous other books on living a creative life, has long touted the benefits of writing three pages in longhand every morning to keep the creative spark glowing.
3 Join a group of creatives.
Creating can be a lonely activity, so head to Facebook or MeetUp to find groups in your area that gather regularly to share ideas and inspiration. You may even get some helpful feedback.
4 Take a walk.
A Stanford Study showed that the simple act of strolling, even in a familiar or boring setting, can give your creativity a jump-start.
5 Turn off (or cover) your monitor.
Interesting things happen when you can’t edit—you have to move ahead rather than worry about what’s behind you. Sure, you’ll make tons of typos, but you can fix those. Later.
6 Reward yourself for writing with a kitten.
(No, not a real one. That could get expensive, not to mention potentially unhygienic.) For every hundred words you write, Written? Kitten! will reward you with an image of a cuddly kitty. Not a feline fan? You can get puppies or bunnies instead.
7 Mind map.
Don’t know how? Let the inventor of mind mapping show you.
8 Carry an idea notebook.
Inspiration can strike at the most inconvenient times. Carrying a small notebook can help you capture and record ideas that come to you while you’re out and about. You can even draw doodles or save clippings. But do it the old-fashioned way—there are benefits to writing longhand.
Give yourself permission to write whatever comes into your head, set a timer for a short period to encourage you to write fast, and then just let ’er rip. You might be surprised by what surfaces!
10 Join a social writing site.
If your muse gets lonely, online social sites for writers, such as Wattpad or Amazon Kindle’s Write On, may help. (Just be aware that getting noticed and earning feedback on these sites can require a significant time commitment.)
11 Go somewhere busy.
Head to a mall, coffee shop, or event—any place where you can watch people. You might even take notes in the aforementioned idea notebook.
12 Go someplace quiet.
Commune with nature in a serene setting where you can clear your head and make room for creative thoughts to flow in.
13 Do something brave.
Shy? Join an improv group. Clumsy? Take a beginner’s dance class. Do something that pushes your limits and then use your experiences for inspiration.
14 Attend a creative event.
Even small towns have poetry readings, book signings, recitals, and art shows. The world is full of creators doing creative things—go watch them and you may find yourself inspired to join them.
15 Perform a mundane task.
Research shows that performing simple tasks can release creative thoughts. You never know what inspiration will wash over you while you’re folding laundry or sorting the widgets in your widget drawer. And speaking of repetitive things . . .
16 Knit or crochet.
These repetitive motion crafts have benefits similar to meditation and can help you direct your creative energies.
17 Make a list.
If you’re stuck on something, jot down a list of as many ideas as you can think of. (Or try this List of 100 technique.) Focus on quantity over quality—you’ll sort out and refine the good ones later.
18 Have a conversation.
The simple act of chatting with others can get the creative juices flowing. But don’t just make small talk—dig in and really get to know someone. If you’re in need of conversation starters, here’s a little random inspiration.
19 Keep an idea file.
20 Try a topic generator.
21 Light a vanilla cinnamon candle.
Cinnamon and vanilla smells seem to boost creativity. And hey, if nothing else, your writing space will smell amazing.