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What Inspires You?

Inspiration Maybe it's the season or the things I've been putting off until the New Year or maybe it's just that it's been drab and dreary here in Philadelphia for the past few weeks. All I know is that I'm in one of my "uninspired" periods, those times when I seem devoid of ideas or when pursuing an idea seems like simply too much work.

My tendency at these points is to burrow down deep into myself and wait for something to change. Eventually it does, but during that waiting period, I become impatient with myself for not being more "productive." It also feels very isolating--I'm sure I'm the ONLY person in the world who runs out of ideas, all evidence to the contrary. So I surf the web mindlessly, hoping for inspiration to strike. I mine my feed reader, but nothing really seems to capture my interest. And I stare out the window next to my desk, praying for the muse to endow me with some amazing, fabulous idea of what to write about or some new project to start. Of course, none of these things work, in part I suspect because we have fallow times in our creativity when we simply aren't able to string together two thoughts, let alone a series of innovative posts or an idea for a new program.

Another annoying thing--my "dry" periods seem to coincide with those times that I've purposely set aside to work on projects for myself. It seems that when I'm crazy with other work that requires my full attention, those are the times when I have no problem coming up with ideas or inspiration. As soon as I say I'm going to take a day or two to pursue some of those ideas that I've put into notebooks and Post-Its and on my bulletin board, then everything dries up and the flood turns to a trickle.

Since I know I'm not alone in this, I'm wondering what you do when you're in those times when inspiration strikes everywhere but in your own mind? Where do you find your inspiration? How do you deal with those times when your creativity seems to have fled? Help me create a guide to dealing with the fallow times and re-discovering inspiration so that we can all benefit and feel less alone when they happen.


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Oh the dry patches! Creative types such as yourself dread these more than taxes I reckon ... I recharge the batteries with a good book, a walk, a long drive, music or a movie. No this isn't avoiding or wasting time, it's feeding the imagination. A long bath with candle and soft music isn't bad either, whether or not you are feeling devoid of ideas!

Creativity does seem to flow in cycles, doesn't it? And I've noticed the same as you ... my best ideas seem to come along when I have the least amount of time to do anything with them. I wonder if we burn ourselves out while we're in that creative zone?

When I'm feeling uninspired, I walk away from the computer. I can't remember where I read this, but putting your body in motion aides your creativity. I stick a small notebook in my pocket and walk the dog in a nearby woods. More often than not, inspiration strikes AND we've got our exercise in for the day!

Michele, you have my sympathies!

The simplest solution for me is to go for a walk - gets you moving and you'll be feeding your naturalistic intelligence - might just give you an idea or two... It's normally best though not to go out looking for ideas and inspiration - resistance tends to kick in when you do.

One thing to watch out for is what you're telling yourself - is your language full of "shoulds" - should be writing, should be creative, should have ideas about what to do... They can be enough to block you.

The other suggestion I was going to make is do what you've just done - write your experience. At least you'll still be writing and you might find that you break through into new learning by writing the feeling of stuckness, where you feel it in your body or your mind, what specifically it feels like... Or you could acknowledge the resistance you're feeling and try "I don't want to write about..." the things you 'should' be writing - and see what comes out (probably best done in private writing space!)

Hope these suggestions help - oh and don't forget the most important one of all, be kind to yourself. Works for all sorts of ailments!

Have a great new year when it comes


Well, I definitely tried the "walking away from the computer" advice, which at least has helped me feel a little less stuck. I'm hoping that the weather will cooperate today so I can try going for a walk, as that seems to be the number one piece of advice. Thank you so much for all of your ideas--very helpful!

This awareness did not come about consciously for me. It happened in retrospect. In a particularly fallow period, I would stare at my computer, get grumbly and pissy, exercise little, see nobody, and just disappear. In retrospect, I realized my expectations were specific and my standards were miserbly high. What I did to bring myself through it was to allow my pen to produce drivel. Barely sentences. Incomplete thoughts, judgments, evaluations, erratic handwriting, scratchy doodles. I allowed myself to sit idle and not move. Unconscious or not, what I learned is that by saying yes to the drivel and nothingness I had the freedom to transform. My higher self somehow knew I would not be fallow forever.

So I say GO WITH, young women. Let the drivel reign! I know we'll see you on the other side with your customary brilliance.

I have a whole list of things I run through because it does seem to happen with some regularity. First, I often forget to schedule down time, and what I think is going to be my time for creativity, is really the time I need to take a break from an often too busy schedule. I am certainly my own meanest boss ever.

I flip through my photo file for inspiration. I use the time to learn new software, which is another part of my brain. I make long lists. Even get fancy with multiple colors and such. When I'm really stuck, I get out the post-its. Lots of sizes and colors for when I'm really having trouble.

Admit it and own it is important for me, like you have done here. That can be really hard for me, since I help others get through this stuff, and am a 'professional' creative. Yea, right, we're the same as anyone else. I find these fallow times often are followed by times of high output, so I just have to have the faith to wait it out.

I hate shopping, but I do find walking around some kind of shopping place can snap me out of creative lulls. Something about seeing things I don't in my normal day can spark an association. And of course, I can always start cleaning my house--- I will do almost anything to get out of that. Suddenly all sorts of other ideas of things to do can emerge :)

Tivo your muse!! I just wrote a post for you! We've all been there ... it's part of the process if not one that feels good.

My problem isn't so much about inspiration, its more about putting those thoughts and ideas into something concrete ie I have heaps of great ideas but am not so good at putting my head down and solidifying the ideas.

Like Joanna, I also find that upping my physical exertion a bit in the down times helps me to focus and relax.

I also try to praise myself for whatever I might have accomplished in the recent past instead of focusing on my irritation over not creating something new.

In a horoscope I read once it said that there's no need to be constantly measuring a project or goal for success, and that's helped me a lot. Letting myself feel it's okay to not be constantly "on" in my life or working towards all my big goals in some obvious way has been a big part of being okay with being uninspired for me.

You are all so awesome--thank you! In addition to the great support and encouragement, you've also given me fodder for at least another post. :-) Thank you!

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