15 Ways to Get Inspired

Inspiration is vital to freelancers. It is what makes our ideas stand out from those of our competition.

Yet, if we’re not careful, we can lose that inspiration.

It happens to the best of us. We set aside time to work on a specific project and just aren’t feeling it. Instead of spending the day twiddling your thumbs or whittling your time away on Facebook and Twitter, try one of these approaches to get prolific prose on the page. These tips are for freelance writers, but other freelancers will find them useful as well.


How to Find Your Inspiration

Here are some suggestions about how to find your inspiration:

  1. Take a walk. Getting out of your environment for as little as twenty minutes can have profound results. Put down the phone, step away from the computer, open the door and allow yourself to focus on the sounds and textures around you. When you come back you will be a little more refreshed and ready to go.
  2. Call a friend. It is hard to separate writing from the other events of your day. Sometimes you might just need someone to listen to you talk about broken appliances, the horrible weather or an exciting trip you’re planning. Or maybe you need to spend ten minutes thinking about problems that aren’t your own. Letting yourself talk about the elephant in the room or blowing off some steam when necessary is a real gift. When you’re good and done, will make writing so much easier.
  3. Read something. Pick up a book, magazine or poem you love. It doesn’t have to be about the topic you’re writing about. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Reading a passage that you find particularly meaningful can give you some perspective.
  4. Put on some music. I like making soundtracks with my favorite tunes on 8tracks.com. I even have different themes—slow, soothing melodies or rockin’ tunes which I’ll alternate between depending on the subject matter on which I’m writing. Just having familiar songs in the background is usually enough to spark my creativity and get my writing flowing.
  5. Appeal to your sense of smell. A small scented candle or aromatherapy oils can set the tone for your article. Just make sure you match the scent to the emotion you’d like to feel or convey. If you need to get revved up and put a lot of energy in your writing, rosemary or mint might be a better choice than lavender, which could make you sleepy.
  6. Do some exercise. A quick bike ride or brisk jog can really get ideas going. This is particularly helpful if you’re feeling anxious about your writing project and need to get in your body.
  7. Eat something. Using this too frequently can definitely have a negative effect on your waistline, but let’s not be taskmasters here. If you’re hungry, give yourself the same appropriate consideration you’d give to another. And keep some fresh water by your desk.
  8. Write somewhere else. If you’d like a bit of background noise, a local café is a great place to write. If you’d like silence and less external stimuli, go to your local library. This is a great way to get work done, especially on a tight deadline.
  9. Press record. Having trouble getting words on paper? Start talking into your audio recorder. You can use this to describe ideas for an article you’d like to flesh out, or even to describe what is challenging and try to talk yourself through it. You may come up with better ideas talking than you do writing.
  10. Take ten minutes to freewrite. You can begin with a sentence or topic about what you’re writing, or simply write about something else entirely. Freewriting is a bit like revving up the engine and getting ready to go.
  11. Meditate. Or simply sit in silence. Set a stopwatch for ten minutes and just pay attention to your breath.
  12. Just go. Set your stopwatch for ten minutes to simply write about your topic. No excuses. Just write. If you get stuck, keep typing.
  13. Switch it up. If you normally write on a computer, switch to pen and paper. If you normally write with pen, switch to pencil or a computer. Even changing the font—or switching between MS Word, Google Docs or a WordPress screen can be helpful. It’s uncertain why this is so, only that it is. Experiment.
  14. Look at something else. If you can stand working on multiple pieces at the same time and if deadlines allow, put away a challenging rough draft and work on a different piece. Just make sure to return to the first in a few days. You’ll find that your mind is clearer and that new ideas are more likely to surface.
  15. Write yourself a letter. Write a letter to your older, wiser self, asking for advice on your current predicament. Then write a letter back, pretending you are your older, wiser self. Take a few minutes to read the solutions you proposed. And do them.

Your Turn

What do you do to get inspired? Share your best ideas in the comments.

Image by Bee Skutch

Comments

  1. says

    I get inspired by taking a step back, and working on another creative outlet of mine; costuming. I find myself watching movies today and really noticing great costume design. If I ever hit a creative block, or inspiration, I think back to the great costumes I’ve seen lately. Then it’s off to the interwebs to gather reference material. After I’ve studies that, it’s off to the fabric store to find patterns to alter to my needs, and then browsing the bolts for the perfect fabrics. Then needle hits thread. Once I’ve finished a project like this, I find the creative juices are flowing in abundance, and I can really do some good web design work afterward.

  2. says

    I agree with freelance factfile. If I’m suffering from designers block, I find the best thing to do is go off, either for a walk or even if it’s just washing the dishes. I find, that while I’m active on something else, my mind can focus on the ‘other’ task and my ideas come flooding in. It’s great therapy.

  3. says

    I’m not sure if it counts as ‘meditation’, but I find one of the best ways for me to come up with nice looking designs/solve visual design problems is to close my eyes and visualise it – not try to do it on a computer or with a pencil.

  4. says

    Wow! great article! printed on my wall right now.

    I think this is very useful for all of us need to be inspired types! I too have found eating to be inspiring, especially when I’m gorging on something exotic. like 6 bags of flavored bugles.. MMMMmm u can taste the inspiration. or Fun-Dip. This looks like someones desperate attempt at trying to stop the hiccups.

    You want to be inspired? try putting peanut butter on the cat. Set a couch on fire ( in a controlled environment of course .) mail someone a photo of your favorite coffee mug. (preferably a stranger.) Clap in public. this way i can hear you coming.

    Eat your fiber…. inspiration will come.

    (never mind printing this list, I’m carving it into the wall.)

  5. says

    Wow! great article! printed on my wall right now.

    I think this is very useful for all of us need to be inspired types! I too have found eating to be inspiring, especially when I’m gorging on something exotic. like 6 bags of flavored bugles.. MMMMmm u can taste the inspiration. or Fun-Dip. This looks like someones desperate attempt at trying to stop the hiccups.

    You want to be inspired? try putting peanut butter on the cat. Set a couch on fire ( in a controlled environment of course .) mail someone a photo of your favorite coffee mug. (preferably a stranger.) Clap in public. this way i can hear you coming.

    Eat your fiber…. inspiration will come.

    (never mind printing this list, I’m carving it into the wall.)

  6. says

    It’s interesting. Many of the ideas/topics I write about come while I’m in a shower. Visiting and browsing through a bookstore also seems to help generate ideas for me. Great list above. Will bookmark it.

  7. says

    @Bakari – I’m the same way! I really need to get one of those waterproof notepads.

    @Creato Potato – can’t say I’ve ever set a couch on fire but it sounds fun!

    Thanks for the great post. A lot of useful tips here.

  8. says

    Oh my favorite topic!

    I experience something or somewhere new. Looking at the world with fresh eyes like a baby does, inspires me to keep on keeping on. Reading biographies also helps. Seeing all those successful people (A Walt Disney biography by Neil Gabler is my favorite) going through their ups and downs validates my own struggles and gives me hope and inspiration to keep going forward.

  9. says

    Here’s what I do:

    I take a nap and often I wake up with the idea or the solution (in case I am trying to solve a problem…

    Works for me, plus napping is good :)

  10. says

    I’ve been traveling all day and just got back to all of these amazing comments. I can’t wait to try some of your suggestions! @Eric Costume design is an interesting one; I would love to try that since I normally don’t pay much attention to them. @Bakari, definitely some of my best ideas also come while showering or driving. @Nick, those are some interesting suggestions! You get an A for creativity, though I bet your cat hates you. ;)

  11. says

    Love the no.15 tip.

    Here’s another tip:
    When I’m sometimes getting tired of thinking creatively, I switch to the other half of my brain and start doing something mechanical, such as html slicing or some content insertion-formatting. It’s sort of like no.11 I guess. :-)

  12. says

    This is one big inspiring list, many thanks. I think there are nice distractions that can help freelancers do a job better like playing Text Twist and the likes. It’s what I call having fun with the benefits, like two birds in one shot.

  13. says

    Great information!
    I look at what babies and children are wearing, colors, styles, what is
    easy to care for, etc. I may dream about something in the middle of the night.
    Sometimes an idea for a new product line just comes to me and then I’ll sit down
    in Photoshop and rough sketch something before actually producing it.

  14. Annabel says

    “Write yourself a letter. Write a letter to your older, wiser self, asking for advice on your current predicament. Then write a letter back, pretending you are your older, wiser self. Take a few minutes to read the solutions you proposed. And do them.”

    Hmm. If I knew what my older, wiser self was going to say, they wouldn’t BE wiser, would they?

    Look, no offence, but these are really not very good tips. They’re distraction and unblocking tips. Not the same as inspiration, really, is it?

  15. says

    I get my best ideas when I’m driving away from where I work, (my studio). I guess it’s because I’m thinking about driving. hhhmmm.
    I’m a painter so when I’m in the studio, I like to visualize as vividly as I can, the subject that I’m going to paint.

    Also, if I’m not really in the mood to paint, I start anyway by just putting paint on the brush and the brush to the canvas. After that it doesn’t take long to get the creative juices flowing.

  16. says

    I wake up during the night and go outside for a cigarette. Being half asleep, ideas just come to me as there are no distractions; no traffic; no phone; no computer; no people. Just the stars and air. Amazing. While out there, I never allow myself to worry about anything. I just am when I’m amid nature and nightfall.

  17. says

    Very useful tips infact…

    Sitting infront of the laptop I find most of my inspirations online… But tapping my childhood memories gets me a lot of unique ideas… Mix the old and the new… some interesting always cooks up… ;-)

  18. says

    Dreams do it every time. Freud may have had lots of issues but the subconscious is the free space where we solve all sorts of problems and great things come bubbling to the surface. Keep a note-pad by your bed, scribble things down, don’t worry if they don’t make sense. They will as the day moves on and more of the dream comes to you. snippets and feelings can be enough to get you moving or un-block you. It’s about freeing up your mind-space and being open to what’s there.

    Enjoy your spot – perhaps some of my random ramblings will inspire you too – http://jactherat.com/blog/
    cheers – Jac

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Trackbacks

  1. 15 Ways to Get Inspired…

    Inspiration is vital to freelancers. It is what makes our ideas stand out from those of our competition. Yet, if we’re not careful, we can lose that inspiration. It happens to the best of us. We set aside time to work on a specific project and ju…

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