Creativity is more than tangible art. It’s in the way you think, your approach to business, and the way you interact with people. Creativity needs to be fostered and taken care of. That’s the reason why my house is the perfect place for a creative junky to get inspired.
I’ve got mind maps in the kitchen, podcasts always playing on the speakers, a variety of books in my bookcase. There are hundreds of magazines in my living room, a vision board in my bedroom, & journals on every surface.
My space is a creative’s playground because I don’t want to get to a point where I forget to pursue creativity. Creativity doesn’t happen in a moment; instead, it’s forever growing and always changing.
Right now, you might be in a rut. You look at a blank white paper and can’t figure out what to do. The answer is not abandoning the task. The more you create, the more you will know what to create. You have to develop the habit of continuously creating. Creativity is just as important as your morning cup of coffee.
If you don’t mind my scratchy handwriting, take a look at this simple model. Your inspiration comes from continuous creation. You have to get your hands dirty and try to make something from nothing. If you’re having trouble with that, then read on. I’ve got some ideas for you.
INSPIRED BY READING
Here’s the deal, non-fiction makes you smarter.
Non-fiction books will broaden your knowledge and expertise. It will help you approach each day with a more focused mentality.
While fiction is great for your imagination.
If you want to stay inspired, you should make an effort to read both fiction and nonfiction to both enhance your creativity levels and make intelligent business decisions.
There are a few tricks to reading non-fiction.
You’re being allowed to witness the world through a different lens, at a different time. Through biographies, you can embrace someone’s entire story, from beginning to end. When reading biographies, consider how that person would think or react in your situation. What would be their next step if they were you? What are some things they valued above all else and how did that help them to become great?
Self-help/books on expertise
Regardless if you’re reading a book to develop the person that you are or to learn something new, the key is to read books relevant to your current situation. Often times, I’ve read books in the wrong season of life and missed the message entirely. Then, I’d go back to it when I can use the tips provided and have seen dramatic life improvements.
How to choose your books:
- Based on your current goals
- Solves an immediate problem
- By an author you respect
To create a better reading experience, read books that are targeted specifically to what you’re doing at the moment.
For example, I’ve taken my talents to South Beach with this blog, so I’m currently reading: How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup.
She’s also the founder of one of the most popular blogging programs (The Elite Blogging Academy) which many successful bloggers swear by.
Update: I’ve finally joined EBA!
Psst, here’s a tip: Buy the actual book so you can highlight, use tabs and bookmarks, and stay up reading in your bed at night without getting distracted. E-books are great, but nothing beats feeling the papers between your thumbs.
How to find time to read:
- With your morning cup of coffee
- While in the bathroom
- When you’re running errands (waiting in line, waiting to be called, waiting for your order; we spend too much of our time waiting anyway)
- Before you got to sleep
Fiction is inspiring without intention.
There’s no advice, no one trying to tell you about how to live your life or run your business. There’s no anecdotes and tips. Instead, there’s just you and the characters. Your mind is both, getting a break, and developing your creative qualities.
The more unbelievable, kooky, or eccentric the book is, the better it is for your imagination. When we read fiction, consider how strange it is that we get pulled into a story we know can never happen.
It’s fiction, fake, sometimes absurd, and we still laugh and cry along with the characters. How can you do that in your business? Find ways to pull your audience into your story and allow them to be so invested that they just keep coming back for more.
Practical ways that fiction can inspire your creativity:
- How the author connects different characters to each other
- Alternative ways the story could have ended
- How the author paints a scene
- Why you care about the characters
- The moment the author hooked you
Reading fiction books give me ideas for promotional videos, newsletters, campaigns, new product ideas, and even some of these posts.
Make a mental note of how the author describes things, which words they use to manipulate your emotions and inject that copy to your own business when appropriate.
I’m fairly certain that I haven’t mastered the art of mind mapping yet, but, so far, it definitely helps make a way for my ideas to escape. I bought a few large white boards ( that’s the exact same board I have) that I hung up in the places I pass the most frequently in my house.
There are online mind-mapping resources available like MindMeister.com, but I haven’t used it and probably won’t.
Nothing feels solid until I’ve physically written it down somewhere.
Make it a ritual to brainstorm as creative ideas come to you. Explore those ideas, and map it out. Who cares if it doesn’t make sense? Your intuitive mind will connect the dots for you.
You have to trust the process, and let it do all the work for you. My map has lines squiggling through other lines, circles overlapping, arrows of every size, but it works.
After allowing the mind map to live a little, start crossing out ideas you think are unimportant or are not a priority. Over time, a more concrete idea will form in your mind for something truly epic.
Time is an important piece of the puzzle
If you’d told me years ago that the key to success was patience, I would have most certainly rolled my eyes.
I’d already seen success and patience had nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, my success came from acting on my ideas impulsively and fine-tuning my screw ups later. That was my formula, I was preaching it, and I was helping other businesses thrive with it.
That was until “the crash” set in.
Imagine sitting on your bathroom floor. wearing one sock, on the phone with your best friend, telling her you’ve “lost it.”
Her: It? What’s IT?
Me: MY CREATIVITY!!
I’d feel like I didn’t have a single creative bone in my body. No matter what I did, nothing would come to fruition. I didn’t know what to do next, or how to improve what I was working on. I’d be in a slump and it scared me because I thought I might have to go back to corporate America.
Back then, I didn’t mind-map, and I definitely wasn’t patient.
Anytime you think you have a great idea, it’s usually nothing more than a mildly good idea.
An idea only becomes great once you’ve given your mind time to expand on it, fill in the loopholes, generate a solid plan around that idea. I’m all about execution and acting right now, but you need to give yourself time to let those creative ideas reach a point of maturity.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi
The perfect way to take advantage of inspiration from a good idea (to make it great), is to mind-map it and leave it alone. Write down as much as you can, then resume with life as you know it. Every day, add a little more to the idea or remove some previous thoughts. Scribble, cross out, and circle.
Your subconscious will start picking up bits and pieces of inspiration from the most unexpected places, building on your “good idea”.
That’s why I recommend mind mapping on a white board (and why I also suggest keeping more than one of them). You can keep adding to it, erase things that no longer fit for your vision, and use different colors when you think one idea is more powerful than the next.
Writing in red psychologically forces me to make a decision on an idea that has me straddling the fence. Red is so bold & harsh that I quickly decide whether I should keep it or toss it.
Call the right friend
You know those friends that you can sit and talk to for hours. Your topics always seem to be centered around:
- Lifestyle Improvement
- Deep, Weird Topics
First, you do the catching up; how’s life, how are the kids, how’s business? Then, something sends you completely down the rabbit hole. It might be something you happened to see on TV, maybe an article you read or something that has recently happened to one of you.
Whatever it is, you’re now both psychologists, scientists, and savvy entrepreneurs filled with inspiration.
It’s easy to get inspired when you’re able to bounce ideas off of someone else. It’s encouraging to hear that your stupid idea isn’t actually stupid, it just needed a bit of refining.
Your friend can give you a perspective you may not have considered. They may even offer some useful resources to help you out with what you plan to do.
Take a temporary vow of silence
I haven’t done this in a long time, but when you find that you’re teetering on edge of a “crash,” take a committed vow of silence.
For an entire day, don’t speak. If you want this to work, you have to take it seriously. Write down on a sheet of paper I’VE TAKEN A VOW OF SILENCE TODAY and show it to anyone who doesn’t understand why you’re being so weird and non-communicative.
When you take a day off from talking, other attributes will kick in.
Talking is a distraction — from listening, enjoying, perusing, and thinking. You’ll find that you have an easier time focusing on your tasks. Furthermore, you may discover inspiration in textures and all the different kinds of people you encounter every day. You don’t have to think too hard about anything, just make it a productive, albeit silenced day.
Revisit the pile of things you said you’d do
There are some projects that have been rotting in our “someday” pile. The reason they are still there is because of fear. We think it will be a major fail or that we don’t have what we need to properly execute it.
If you’re afraid of failure, don’t worry. You failed at it the moment you put it into the
never “someday” pile.
If you want to be creative today, then pull out one of the ideas you think you’re not ready for. Find a way to tie it into what you’re doing currently and take the first steps needed to make it happen.
Just take the first step. Then, the next step. Keep going until you think you’ve actually hit a wall.
If you’re stuck, well, it’s time to ask for help. Reach out to someone in your field and get their advice.
Take on those challenges with determination. Your greatest ideas— the ones you’re afraid of— are the ideas that will change your life and your business.
It’s your mind that conceived the impossible because you know you can do it. It may not be easy (it’ll probably be the most frustrating thing you have to do), but the end result is 100% worth it — whether you fail or succeed.
Go somewhere… anywhere
What better way to inspire yourself than by going to a completely new city. Don’t go there to see the arts because the worst way to be more creative is by seeking out other people’s creativity. That’s a good way to get depressed.
Instead, go there to have fun, go to the places less frequented by people. See their landmarks, go to their hidden restaurants, talk to the residents, and write.
I don’t care what industry you’re in, writing is therapeutic for any solopreneur. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about, or even if you never look at it again, as long as you’re allowing your ideas to flow out onto paper.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
Fuel your creative mind, always. Ongoing
The little things you do every day add up to be the big things that change your life. It’s so important that you stay inspired by unusual things in unusual places.
Use these creative ways to see the world through a unique set of eyes and create things that no one else can.
What techniques do you use to find inspiration? Let me know in the comments!