Why To Get Inspired

Since I started this series on finding inspiration I’ve written a lot about inspiration: what it is, where to find it, and how to force it have been three of my favorite posts on the subject.  But what I haven’t told you yet is why to get inspired.  If you’re a writer, an artist, a DIY expert, or even a blogger yourself, this can seem pretty obvious.  But what if you’re a financial analyst or a lawyer? Does finding what inspires you still matter? In my opinion, absolutely.

why get inspired

To Enjoy Your Work

No matter what you do for a living, whether it’s drafting reports for someone else to present, or designing an entire house from start to finish, inspiration is so important to you enjoying what you’re doing.  At some point along the way, you were inspired to go into a certain field.  Something made you want that job, even if it’s not the job you’d always wanted for yourself.  And in fact, especially if this isn’t the job you’ve always wanted.

We’re all going to have horrible jobs and terrible bosses at some point. You’re going to wake up some mornings and realize that the last thing you want to do is drag yourself back into the office for another eight hours at a job you may not enjoy.  Finding inspiration in your life and in your job can make those eight hours a lot less awful and in fact, more meaningful.

To Push Yourself

Life, and so much about it, is hard. Every step of the way could leave you wondering why even bother, and there are going to be days when you’re not sure you can understand why.  So much about life, whether it’s going back to school, crossing that next item off your bucket list, or travelling to a country you’ve always wanted to see, means pushing ourselves to limits we didn’t know we had.

Without inspiration, there’s be no way we’d do half the things we do every day. Even the smallest things, like an interview at a job you want more than anything or  first date with someone you’ve liked for a long time, require us to get inspired.

To Live

Whether it’s in the office, in the home, or in the mountains a thousand miles from home, inspiration is what keeps us going every day.  Inspiration is what drives you to run that 10K, or to host that party you’re terrified won’t go the way you’d planned.  We need inspiration in our lives to force us to live, to get out of bed in the mornings and do something worth remembering.

Inspiration, I think, is a key piece of motivation. It’s what encourages us to get motivated in the first place, and the thing that tells us what to get motivated about.

So what about you? What are your reasons for getting inspired?

Finding Inspiration: On Forcing Creativity

In the last post I wrote about Finding Inspiration, I suggested forcing it when you just can’t seem to find inspiration anywhere you look.  It’s controversial advice, and you’ll probably find more bloggers saying the exact opposite than you’ll find people agreeing with me.  But I know from experience that if I never forced it, there are a whole lot of essays, short stories, and blog posts that never would have been written.  In fact, my absolute favorite piece that I’ve ever written – a creative non-fiction essay I wrote in my last semester of college – was the result of a professor who not only encouraged, but required us to force ourselves to write every week.  At the start of the semester when she stood in front of the room and told us that we’d be writing 5 to 10 new pages each week, a few kids immediately dropped out.  And the rest of us really took stock of our lives and our previously forgotten about ideas.  By the end of the semester though, I was so glad she’d done it because I had a 15 page essay that I’d never have written otherwise.

I know that forcing yourself to be creative seems counterintuitive though, and at times, downright impossible.  So today, I have a few tips on forcing it when you can’t seem to get inspired.

forcing creativity

Use Old Ideas

Remember all those old post-it notes, word documents, and blog post drafts that you’ve got lying around with half-imagined ideas you forgot about almost immediately after you wrote them down? Well, go dig them out and see if you can find a new way of working with them that just clicks.  Pull a couple of them together, or imagine them in a way you didn’t when you first wrote them down.  Even if you don’t like what you come up with in the end, what’s the hurt?  You weren’t doing anything with that idea anyway, so what’s the loss of a bad turnout?

Just Write

I am the absolute worst at taking this advice, because I just feel so ridiculous sitting down and writing “I don’t know what to write because I have no ideas that seem to be working and there’s nothing to say…..” until something hits me.  But it’s advice that any writing teacher worth their meager paycheck stands by, and that’s because eventually, it works.  Even if what you write is total crap and none of it makes sense, it forced you to exercise that part of your brain.  It forced you to write, and that turns gears that weren’t going anywhere when you weren’t writing.

Work on an Old Piece

Do you have a poem that you absolutely love except for that one line?  Or a blog post that just doesn’t seem to be finished yet?  Pull it out, and work on it.  Working with something familiar, with words and ideas you’ve already seen and thought about plenty of times before will get you into the mood to create.  You might end up with a whole new idea that you want to work on separately, or with the perfect ending for that essay you’ve been working on for months.  And if not?  At least it got you thinking!

Keep a Journal

I’m the last person to say I have a creative journal; I absolutely do not in any sense of the word.  When push comes to shove, my journal is more of a middle-schoolers diary, with some actual real thoughts and makeshift budgets thrown in for good measure. It’s something I’ve been working on every day though, because even if what I’m writing isn’t anything strictly creative, it’s working that part of my brain.  Even if it’s just a couple paragraphs about what you did that day, sitting down and writing at the end of the night forces you to work that part of your brain that your creativity comes from.

Kenzie is my absolute go-to when it comes to journaling, so if it’s something you’ve never done head on over there ASAP and get some tips to get you started.

What do you think of these ideas, and about forcing creativity? Do you force it when you can’t find inspiration, or do you just wait for inspiration to strike naturally?

Where to Find Inspiration

find inspiration

It’s been a couple of weeks, but I’m finally making it to part three of my new series, Finding Inspiration.  If you’ve missed parts one and two, you can check them out here; but Finding Inspiration is a series about what inspiration is, how it influences us as writers and creators, and where we can find inspiration.

Today, I want to focus on that last part, especially since as bloggers, inspiration often seems far more fleeting than we would like.  I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent staring at a blank screen or notebook, wondering “what’s even left to write about?”  It’s a problem we all face, but as creatives we see it more than most: a complete lack of inspiration.  While it is different for everyone, this spark that makes us all keep going can be found in certain places, and in certain ways.

Change of Scenery

I’ve written before about my writing process, and how I usually tend to write my blog posts in the same few places: bed, desk, living room couch.  Eventually, after hours of using a certain space to spark my creativity and encourage my writing, I can’t find anything creative about the space anymore.  It happens to all of us, because we tend to stick to what works.  If a certain space or habit has lead to work we’re proud of, we’re probably going to do it again.  Eventually though, that space loses what made it work.

After having spent a few nights working in the art studio with my roommate, I’ve found that some great ideas – ones I never would have had while sitting in my room – come to me while there.  And the same holds true for sitting on the bus, spending the weekend up the mountains with family, or anything else that varies from where I usually put myself to draw creative energy.

The Internet

Let’s face it: the Internet is filled with a trillion different things.  Probably more than that.  And all of that can serve as a place of inspiration for you.  A beautiful spoken word piece, or an article that really makes you angry; a gorgeous photo, or a status update your “friend” who you haven’t seen since high-school shared on Facebook…. it can all be a place of inspiration if you look at it the right way.

Force It

Now here’s the advice you’re absolutely never going to hear anywhere else, but when your creative juices are completely tapped and nothing’s coming out the other end of your pen, forcing yourself to write anything can help.

I’ve got notebooks filled with terrible poetry, and even more pages that I’ve thrown away over the years because I didn’t like what I’d written.  But the thing about all those crappy poems, and ripped out journal pages is that they lead to something I didn’t crumple up or scribble out.  Instead, as bad as those pieces were, they lead to something better, to ideas that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Solitude

Some of us are social creatures more so than others are, but we still all need time away.  Especially in a generation so easily connected, it can be difficult to fathom putting our cell phones on silent or leaving them at home.  But taking a long walk by yourself, going for a run, or reading a book by yourself can be so much more inspiring than anyone would think on a Monday.

Walk Away

Sometimes, it’s just not going to come to you.  Staring at a screen willing the right words to come will only make you more frustrated, and probably less capable of inspiring yourself.  Sometimes, just a half hour away from whatever you’re working on can.

So what about you? When you’re creatively tapped, where do you find things to do.

Finding Inspiration: What Inspires Me

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced a new series called Finding Inspiration.  I wanted to explore and hopefully find an answer to the question of “what is inspiration,” and today, I’m finally able to get started with just that.  

Inspiration is a word we all hear regularly, especially in a field as creativity-driven as blogging.  But when asked to define it, we often struggle to pinpoint exactly what inspiration is.  


Almost like “love” or “happiness,” inspiration is a word that is more of a feeling, and less of a tangible something.  It can’t be defined in any one way, because it’s different for everyone who experiences it.  But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to better understand that elusive word; so today, I’m going to kick off this series by talking about what inspires me.  

What Inspires Me


Silence

From the time I was young, I can remember loving solitude – whether that meant lying alone in my room reading a good book, playing with my cat, or going on long walks by myself.  

At night, I would lie alone in my bed writing entire novels in my mind, books that never seemed to end but always left me with a hundred new words to write down in the morning.  I would go on long walks by myself, at a trail near my home that only one friend of mine ever knew about.  I’d spend hours sitting on a bridge above the Schuylkill River, dreaming of the one-days and the what-ifs, and somehow, this alone-time always left me feeling more refreshed and ready to create than being around friends and family ever did.  

Spring Rain

I don’t know what it is specifically about the rain, and I suppose I could say that spring in general is an incredibly inspiring time (and so is fall – the leeway between two polarized moments).  

But somehow, it’s the rain that always gets me – that scent of it in the early morning hours on a Saturday in April, when it’s only just started to warm up outside and you can smell the new season coming out of the suddenly green grass.  The smell of life just beginning all around me, as cliche as that sounds, seems to get me every time.

Someone Else’s Writing

Whether it’s a spoken word piece that makes me feel strongly about a topic, or a short-story that leaves me unable to stop thinking, incredible writing makes me want to create something just as powerful.  

A Good Debate or a Strong Opinion

It’s no secret that I love to argue, particularly about controversial news stories, and the ideals I hold close to my heart.  I’ve always loved fighting for my beliefs, no matter what anybody around me seems to think.  Somehow that debate, that fundamental disagreement that leaves me having to pull from my morals, my politics, and my education leaves me wanting more.  More education, more inspiration, more to read and say on the topic I find myself having such a strong opinion on.  
 
It never fails that after a good debate – whether in person, on paper, or online – I feel riled up.  It wakes me up in a way that only a couple of other things in my life do, and I’m left wanting to contribute more to the conversation.  
So now it’s your turn – what inspires you?  What leaves you feeling “turned on” at the end of the day, and ready to create something more?

Finding Inspiration: A Series

Yesterday, I posed the question on Twitter: “what is inspiration and what inspires you?”  I was confused when I didn’t receive very many responses, because it seemed like a good question to me, and one that a lot of bloggers would want to weigh in on.  But as I laid (yes, I did have to look up the proper form of that word) in bed searching “blog ideas” on Pinterest, I realized that as good as the question may be, the answers probably wouldn’t fit into 140 characters.

Inspiration is a huge, all-encompassing word that doesn’t fit into the four syllables it holds.  It’s an idea, like faith or freedom that keeps the world turning and society growing, but that we can’t quite define because it’s so vast and so completely different for everyone.
It did leave me asking myself though: what is inspiration?  If it is such a huge idea, what does it mean to me, and where do I find it?
What is Inspiration
Inspiration is something I’ve never truly nailed down.  It’s an abstract idea that is tailored to every part of speech: to inspire, to be inspirational, to be inspired, to find inspiration… It’s something I know I find every day, the motivation behind my getting out of bed each morning, behind my writing a new post here every day, behind every picture I take and word I write and interview I go to.  It is my life force, and I believe it is yours too.
Even the dictionary – my source for anything I can’t quite get a grasp on – left me wondering more.  Literally, inspiration is our life force, what keeps us going each day and waking each morning.
inspiration |ˌinspəˈrāSHən|

noun

the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

• an act of breathing in; an inhalation.

So how do you define something like that?  The force that keeps all of us growing and changing; how is that something you nail down in 140 characters or less?
If you could, how would you try to define inspiration?  I’m going to be trying over the next couple of months, by breaking it down into manageable pieces.