A Creative’s Inspiration Pool
I’m a creative type. You know the type. We were the people no one wanted to sit with in high school but now everyone wants to be us. We were the weirdo’s and geeks, the ones normal popular people made fun of, but now we are the Steve Jobs and the Bill Gates types. We didn’t fit in then and still don’t. The world just doesn’t seem to hear our drum, much less march to it.
Creativity is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So that makes me a sweaty creative.
“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”— Maya Angelou
The creative types are notoriously unorganized and scattered. We naturally procrastinate and often feel we work better under pressure when the deadline is looming in front of us like a vulture. However, that often makes us untrustworthy and flakey. Because of this, I have several things that keep me focused and organized.
“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”— Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr Seuss
Binders of Photos
If you are like me you keep a file of possibilities. When I was much younger I would tear photos out of magazines to paint from in the future. Later, when I wanted to enter more art shows and work illustrations for a living, I gave up magazine photos that are already copyrighted. That is plagiarism to use those. I began taking my own photos to work from and kept binders of them for reference long ago. Now that everything is digital, I have photo files ready at a moments notice without having to leaf through countless binders. I keep these organized under themes and subject so that they are easier for me to find and keep me from wasting time unnecessarily when I need something specific for reference. My biggest problem with searching is that it is too easy to get distracted and forget altogether what I was searching for in the first place.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”— Cat in the Hat, by Dr Seuss
What do you do to kickstart your creativity?
“It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends.”— Snow White by Brothers Grimm
Beyond that, I keep a sketchbook with rough ideas that come to me at random times, like in bed when I’m half asleep and even in the shower. I usually have to dry off before jotting down my ideas then. There is nothing like the ideas we get in the shower, is there? Keeping a sketch file of ideas is one of the best ways to jumpstart the creative process. I often start with one idea, and before I know it, it morphs into something else even better.
Sketchbooks are also good ways to develop thoughts. One idea may be okay but if you draw it over and over from different angles in different formats (like landscape vs portrait) you end up with even better ideas.
I have a number of friends who keep creative journals. In these journals, they have pages they call “Brain Dumps” where they just put random ideas and thoughts that they could develop later but would be gone forever if they didn’t jot them down. Some of these journals are filled with artwork and sketches, others have photos and inspirational sayings. Most journals are just that; journaling thoughts and events of the day.
The ones that inspired me most had a theme for the month, opened with the monthly calendar and events the person wanted to keep track of for that month, like finances or YouTube tracking or Yoga tracking. Each one is customizable to your own needs and creativity. It so inspired me that I started keeping my own more than a year ago and I haven’t stopped yet. I can look back over the months and see how my focus has changed and how my goals have changed as well. It is a very creative idea to keep organized.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”— Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rawling
Colossal is a good online curation of creative work that may inspire you. Subscribe and get an email about once a week or every other week with about 5 featured creative artists and their work. I find it a great way to see what others are doing and also to friend or follow them on social media for further inspiration.
“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”— Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Ronald Dahl
What Inspires You?
Create an inspiration list of your own, adding any items you think are important for you to remember. You can do this in a creative journal or just a notebook for your use.
Once you have created your list, take a look at the art that has inspired you. What is it about the pieces that inspire you the most? Is it repetition? Is it a variety of shape? Check the piece against your list, and see which items are utilized most, which are not used so much, and which are not used at all.
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”— Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
“We all can dance when we find music that we love.”— Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
I am a reader. I read everything from biographies to self-help books, my Bible to classic novels and even children’s books. I think my favorite will always be children’s books. There is no sex or violence, no drugs or controversy but still, important issues are addressed and dealt with by the protagonist.
I get some of my best ideas from reading. I like to read Young Adult fantasy novels. They can open up the imagination in a way you may not guess. The smallest phrase or dialog can spark a thought, which turns into an idea for me. I have always believed that books hold a wealth of knowledge and creativity if we only take the time to find it.
“The moment where you doubt you can fly, you cease forever being able to do it.”— Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
These are just a few of the ideas I use to keep the creative juices flowing. They can be used by writers just as much as artists and illustrators. Try what works for you and see if it isn’t a good fit. If you have any questions or thoughts share them with me below in the comments.