When you're feeling de-motivated, it can take a lot to get you back on track. You can read every motivational blog post in the world, pin every inspirational quote on Tumblr, and give yourself countless pep talks, but nothing is going to get you back on the horse until your muse shows her face again. Unfortunately, waiting for inspiration to strike isn't a very effective way to live a creative life. In order to make your goals a reality, you've got to forget about chasing that fleeting spark and get to work instead.
As human beings, we seek out routines every day. Routine isn't necessarily a bad thing: it enables us to take care of business and makes productivity a habit in our day-to-day lives. But it does limit our ability to find inspiration and discover new things, and that prevents our minds from being stretched and challenged. Catch-22? Not quite...
By making time every day for activities that help us look at the world in a new way, we can build creativity and inspiration into our routines. To do this, we must seek out new experiences and engage ourselves in them. Even small things, like choosing a new seat at the coffee shop or writing in a journal, can set your mind in motion. Look for ways to see your life in a different way, to shift your perspective and open up unique possibilities.
But finding ways to do this can be challenging, especially if you are struggling to get motivated in the first place. It's okay to ask for help in these situations, to look for a short-cut that will get you working as quickly as possible. There is no "right way" to do this, so feel free to choose the easy path if it's the one that gets you back on the road toward your goals. Have you ever noticed that creating is easier when you've been doing it frequently? Creativity begets creativity, which means that the inspiration is already inside you - you just have to dig it out. No matter how slow a start you're making, you'll be able to gain speed as the momentum gathers, so stick with it.
One of my favorite short-cuts is to do something creative that has nothing to do with my current project. If I'm stuck while writing a story, I'll paint a flower or take a series of arty, themed photos with my iPhone. Doing these things doesn't help me with my project per se, but it does force me into the creative flow, which helps me to be more productive when I return to my computer screen.
One word of caution: don't get so caught up in looking for inspiration that you start giving yourself an excuse to procrastinate or ignore your project. Distraction isn't the way to accomplish your goals. Build these activities into your schedule, and give yourself a time limit. Once you hit your deadline, it's time to force yourself to revisit whatever it is that's giving you such a hard time. You may surprise yourself with what you're able to come up with, and if not, you have my permission to start the process over again.
If you're looking for some great creative exercises, start with one of these books that will help you inspire yourself. Each one contains a number of activities that will clear your head and keep you fresh.
How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith
The Steal Like an Artist Journal by Austin Kleon
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your Genius by Tanner Christensen
Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel
1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion by Adam J. Kurtz
The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferrris
642 Things to Write About by San Francisco Writers' Grotto
One Zentangle A Day by Beckah Krahula
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
What are your favorite creativity exercises? What activities help you out of a rut?
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