So what do you do when your inspiration station is empty? Do you just sit down and force it out? Do you pace the room willing a grand idea to come with you? Here are my personal tips for inspiration stimulation!
Get out - Go for a walk
Get up. Get away from the desk/easle/laptop and go for a walk. Walk through the hills. Go for a hike. Inhale the smells and ponder at the world. If you can manage it, don’t take your ipod. Spend some time alone with your wandering thoughts. Let them meander in the clean fresh air. If you live in the city go for a stroll. Take in the sights and the sounds. See what happens. Maybe pop in to an art gallery. Exposing your mind to new stimuli helps to get new thoughts a’stiring in your noggin. Hate walking? Fine. Do some hard exercise. Go for a run even. Or a swim. Exercise gets your heart beating faster and pumps out stagnant energy. Drip sweat and feel that brain fog clear!
Overworking can lead to burnout. Take a break. Get out into the garden and plant some tulip bulbs. Build a veggie garden. Meditate. Have a bubble bath! Clean out your wardrobe and take your unwanted clothes to an opshop. Do some baking. Make pesto. Who knows what could happen. You could cut your finger and inspire a horror story?
When we work alone all the time it can become normal to get stuck in a day to day routine of solitude. Funnily enough solitude does not always inspire us. As a writer I need to meet new people as a source of character inspiration. The more different from myself they are, the better! Children, 90 year old women; It’s these interested creatures that I enjoy meeting the most. Get yourself out there and meet new people! People completely different from your long time buddies. Volunteer at a charity. Join and craft group or a book club. So what if they aren’t “the kind of people you’d normally be friends with”. Be curious. Learn. Grow.
Boring medial activities that take little brain power are excellent for stimulating thoughts. We’re doing something, like washing the dishes or hanging out washing, but our minds are free to wander. Perhaps the woman in your short film is hanging out washing when she gets shot? Or is she cleaning blood off the bath tub? But why? Who did she kill. Clean you house. Be inspired!
Stream of Consciousness Writing AKA Journaling.
Sit down at your computer or start a new page of your journal. Now here’s the important part: Just. Start. Writing. Set your phone’s alarm for five minutes (or longer if you prefer) and write anything and everything that comes to your mind. Just start. Perhaps you’ll write dialogue that will give you a back story to a piece of artwork? Perhaps it will even inspire a whole collection of works. Need more structure? How about write a letter to no one and anyone at all. Start writing and see who the letter turns out to be to. Tell them why you love or hate them. Sometimes stirring up old emotions is all you need to find passion in your work.
You can do the same exercise in a visual sense too. All you need is a pencil and piece of paper. Paint is fun too and you could try collage! See what happens. See where your mind takes you. It’s often strange the things that come out!
As much as I hate to admit it, the worst thing you can do when your mind will not produce creative magic is to watch T.V! It may seem very appealing to sit down and binge watch Orange is the New Black when you can’t think of anything to work on. But, believe me, that is a dark and murky path that you don’t want to go down. Why? Watching T.V does not stimulate your mind. It actually puts it into a placated numb state. The cobwebs in your mind just get thicker as that T.V spider works on it’s web. All you will want to do after one episode of Nashville or Breaking Bad is: watch another one. And another, until you've finished the whole season feeling sick and sloppy. And most importantly, you still won’t have any new ideas. All that’ll be rocking around in your mind are the characters you have just been watching. Your new T.V friends. They make you feel nice. Now all you want to do is see them again.
The same can be said about diddling around on the computer. Do not open Facebook and piss around finding something to distract you. Get away from Instagram. The internet is a total time suck. It does not so much inspire new ideas, as show us other people’s ideas. Shut the lid and get away from the laptop!
Don’t over react. This is not the end of the world. Just because you can’t think up something new, clever and exciting to work on, does not mean it is all over. It does not mean you have failed. The only way to truly fail is to give up on your dream and go back to doing that boring practical job you hated. Don’t wallow in sadness over your inspiration sabbatical. Just relax and follow my tips. Soon enough you’ll be full of ingenious ideas!
Usually ideas give way to more ideas. They come in flocks. So once you’ve had one, you'll probably have 10! Don’t drop each one for the newest one that comes along! Commit to one and get it done. Then move on to the next one. Keep a notebook handy to jot down new ideas as they come up. Bullet point all the details you have on your mind and then shut the book. Now you’ll have a cache of clever concepts to visit if you ever find yourself void of inspiration again!