Capturing Your Creativity

We freelancers are a creative bunch. If you’re a freelance writer, you need to frequently come up with fresh ideas for copy. If you’re a designer, you must continually come up with fresh design ideas. Even freelancing fields that are supposedly “less” creative require freelancers to come up with new and innovative approaches to solving problems.

Freelancers are constantly on the hunt for new ideas. Is it any wonder that creative folks sometimes complain that they can’t think of any new ideas?

Where, exactly, do ideas come from? In this post, I’ll look at some common sources of creative inspiration that can help you capture your own creativity.


Music

Song titles, and of course all music in general, can be great for inspiration. Even when the song is about something totally different than what you’re trying to create, the mood of the song can still inspire you.

For me, a song will also often trigger a memory or past experience, which in turn leads to something that I can write about.

Some freelancers like to keep music on all of the time while they are working. Although I can certainly understand that, I tend to listen to music between projects and then turn it off to develop my ideas in detail.

Headlines in Newspapers and Magazines

A few years ago, Brian Clark encouraged his readers to write magazine-style headlines for their blog posts. While the exercise was a lot of fun, it was also a great way to get inspired. Magazine and newspaper headlines are specifically designed to grab the reader’s attention and stir their imagination.

Book titles can work for inspiration as well. For example, my unlikely inspiration for this post, Mastering the Art of Client Relations was the movie Julie & Julia, which referenced Julia Child’s great work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. After watching the movie, I started thinking about how there was an art to client relations just like there is an art to French cooking.

Another way to find inspiration from publications is to personalize the news. Describe how the news makes you feel. If you’re are an artist and you just read a piece about the economy, you can illustrate how the economic news made you feel. If you’re a writer and you just read the same piece, you can write about how the economy is likely to impact you and other writers personally.

Nature

Nature never ceases to amaze me. From grandiose views like mountains, sunsets, oceans, or storms to tiny scenes like the petals of a flower or the wings of a butterfly–there’s something in nature to move everyone.

When I noticed a garden flower growing in an unlikely place (a crack in the pavement), I wrote this post titled, Thrive, Even When Odds Are Against You. I wrote the words, but nature provided the spark of inspiration that I needed to get started.

Artists and designers, in particular, can create patterns inspired by what they see in nature. And of course, the colors found in nature are also inspiring.

Technology

Technology may seem like the polar opposite of nature (and in many ways it is), but technology can be equally inspiring.
Of course, the most obvious way to be inspired by technology is to think about how you, as a freelancer, can make use of it.

However, the patterns, textures and colors found in technology can also be inspiring. The other day I was near a construction site and I noticed how the shadow of the construction equipment against the shiny glass of the building next door was making an unusual, but interesting, pattern. If I were designer I might have tried to replicate that pattern in my designs.

Everyday Occurrences

If something is happening to you, it’s probably happening to someone else as well. That’s why everyday occurrences can be a great source of inspiration.

If you’re having a problem, write about it. Chances are someone else will be able to relate. If you’ve just solved a problem that’s even better. You can share your solution.

A large number of my posts come from my everyday experiences. For example, I wrote this post, The Amazing Power of Personal Encouragement, after receiving some very kind words from a friend.

One word of caution about sharing your everyday occurrences: it’s usually best not to provide specific information such as names. You never know who’s reading and besides, you might feel differently later. It’s usually best not to burn bridges. (That’s one reason why we don’t mention clients by name in our blog posts here on Freelance Folder.)

Blog Posts and Websites

Naturally, blog sites and websites (such as Freelance Folder) can be a great source of information for all creative freelancers. Not only can you learn about new techniques and trends to try for yourself, but you can also join in discussions that are specific to your field.

Blog posts and websites can also be a great source of inspiration, especially for writers. You can elaborate on a topic, refute it, or look it at from a different angle entirely.

Your Turn

How do you capture your creativity? Where do you turn for inspiration?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Alyssa L. Miller