Three Great Places to Draw Inspiration for Creativity

I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard for me to find inspiration for blog posts. And honestly, sometimes that extends to larger projects, like books, art pieces, or DND campaigns. This is a sentiment a lot of creatives often share, and people can find their inspiration in a lot of different places. So where can we look for ideas when we’re feeling blocked? Where can we search from the comfort of our armchairs or couches or desks? Let’s take a look at three places online we can search for ideas.

Real life

Honestly, is there anything stranger than real life sometimes? *gestures vaguely*

But current events aside, you may find that you can be inspired by the things going on around you. As an exercise, try setting a timer for 5, 10, even 30 minutes (and believe me, a timer is important if you don’t want to lose the rest of the day). Then, scroll through the home page of a news site or even Facebook. Write down as many ideas as you see pop up…don’t worry about if you’ll use them or what you’d use them for. The idea is to pick out things you might not have noticed otherwise, things that can be used for character or world development, maybe even the basis of a plot.

Other media

Another way to come up with ideas is to see what other people are doing. In order to refill your own creative well, you may find that consuming other stories is key. So watch Netflix for a couple hours a couple times a week. Read a few books (and you should probably be reading books anyway as research for yourself). Take time to see what you enjoy in stories or what interests you in documentaries and let yourself dwell on those things. Then, when you’ve done some research into things you like to consume, see if you can figure out how to incorporate those ideas and tropes in your next piece.

Internet

There is an abundance of inspiration to be found online as well, some of which can count as real life or media. But I want to draw your attention to a few particular places online.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to find photos and artwork to inspire you and to create digital mood boards. I do this for just about every story I write! I’ve also talked a bit about how to use Pinterest for your writing in a previous post, so I’ll leave it here for now. 🙂

Photo sites

I won’t list specific ones, but sometimes all you need to shake an idea loose is the right photo. Take some time to scroll through stock photo sites or photography communities.

Tumblr and other blogs

You may also find ideas in blogs across the internet. See what other people are discussing that strikes a chord with you. Maybe it’s a single thought that’s the theme for a new piece. Do you agree with what you’re reading? Disagree? Have more thoughts? Expand on that.

Wikipedia

Finally, Wikipedia is a wealth of information. And it’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole. Follow a link trail and learn new things about a topic that interests you. But, much like with the news or social media searching, you may want to set yourself a timer.

Final Thoughts

Before I close for the week, I want to be clear that what I’m talking about today is simply finding inspiration – a single idea that you can develop on your own. This does not mean taking whole ideas and stories (no plagiarism, copyright infringement, or other illegal activities!). It simply means looking at something that interests you and seeing how you can make it your own story.

But I do want to emphasize that we are surrounded by stories all day every day. With practice, you’ll be able to pick them up and set them aside for later. I don’t know about you, but I keep a file on my computer of random ideas I may eventually use. Maybe it’s time to start your own file, too!

Keep your eyes open, and let your mind wander. You never know where you’ll find your next idea.

Friends in Creative Places

A while back you may recall my post titled “The Demons of Discouragement.” Well, after reviewing that post recently, I realized that the discouragement I was feeling has been somewhat alleviated. So I started thinking about why that might be, and I have come to a conclusion: I found the right creative friend. This isn’t to say my other support hasn’t been phenomenal, and I love my friends and family for their support every day. But it’s quite different to have a creative friend doing the same work as you.

Back toward the end of summer I had joined a local writing group that met in the Barnes & Noble closest to where I lived (I still attend every meeting!). About the same time I started going, another woman near my age also began attending. Like me, she had written a book. Like me, it was fantasy. Like me, she was ready to query. Unlike me, she was vocal about it.

So we gravitated together at and around these meetings, talking shop and gushing over our books. She began pushing me to do things I would have avoided out of my introverted, shy nature or because of the cost. With her, I attended a writing workshop in Philly in April. I went to a Sarah J. Maas book signing and discovered that she lives pretty close to me. I traded critiques and reviews of synopses and query letters and drafts.

And you know what? The query process is going so much better. I got a request for my full manuscript at the workshop. I have six queries out in the world, shining in their new and improved status. I feel more confident in what I’m doing, not like I’m just flailing in the dark and hoping to hit something.

But you know what’s even better than all that?

I’m in love with my writing again. Because of her, I’ve had professionals tell me I was talented and skilled (a huge boost for the discouraged writer!). I’ve had a passionate friend who loves fantastic worlds as much as I do. I’ve had opportunities to meet people and grow not only as a writer but also as a person.

And because of her, I’m back.

So what about you? What have you experienced or done that has fueled your creation and your passions? I’d love to hear about it!

The Transformative Power of Snow

Last night I had the first significant snowfall of the winter season.

My parents and grandparents already got to experience this, but because I live in southeastern PA, I don’t get to experience the same mountain weather as they do farther north.

There’s just something about the snow that makes winter seem a little more bearable. I was born in winter, but I can’t say it’s my favorite season (actually, fall is my favorite). It gets cold and miserable. There’s not much daylight to enjoy, which is a big deal to someone who already has low vitamin D from spending so much time in the lab. Everything looks gray and bleak and sad.

Until it snows.

Suddenly instead of gray and bleak and dark, everything is bright white and blue. The snow mutes the sounds, making the air peaceful and calm. The cold isn’t just miserable anymore; it’s crisp and fresh and invigorating. It’s like having a snow day as a kid all over again, and all I want is to watch the snow fall and make soup and hot chocolate and watch Disney movies, cuddled up on the couch with pets and loved ones. It’s filled with comfort and joy and excitement.

And all it took was a single snowfall.

I have been struggling to get back to work on my once-regular writing schedule, around my day job, relationships, and other obligations of course. And seeing the snow takes me right back to the last time I was obsessed with my stories, to another snowy season when my mind was entirely consumed by writing with every free moment.

I was still in grad school, and I lived close enough that every day I walked to and from the lab. Unfortunately that meant that no matter the weather I could make it in. So I would bundle up, pull on my tall boots, and trudge through the un-shoveled snow that was at least up to my knees.

But the whole time, I got to feel the crispness of the winter air, to enjoy the quiet that comes with snow. And let me tell you, that’s a rarity where I had lived. Few people were out and about, cars were scarce, and there was no pressure, since no one was waiting on me to get to school. And it was exactly the inspiration I needed for my work in progress at that time.

I was working on a story that involved a very snowy clime, and being in the snow made it easier to imagine being with my protagonist. Every step I took was another thought she had, another event she encountered. The snow was my inspiration and my encouragement to continue.

And now that I have snow again, I feel that familiar itch of creation. I want to create and write and build worlds and art and beauty. I want not only to write but to paint and draw and be consumed by creation. To be truthful, I don’t know how long it will last or if this will be what I need to get back in my groove. But for now, I’m going to run with it.

I hope the snow can push your inspiration, too.

The Importance of Being Artists

Hey guys! So I was doing a lot of thinking over the past few months, encouraged by a couple of life groups in which I was involved (Bible study groups) and today’s sermon at church. The idea is the importance of art and the calling of the artist. Before those of you who are no religious run away, let me say that what I am talking about here applies to everyone.

The first book I read that started this thinking was Unlocking the Heart of the Artist by Matt Tommey in Fall of 2015. A lot of this book focused on claiming the name of “artist” and addressing the things that keep us from fulfilling that role, such as past trauma, present circumstances, and future anxieties. This resonated with me so incredibly. I truly felt like someone was reading back my own feelings. There is something to be said for interacting with people who share passions and personality traits (such as being creative).

One of the things Tommey says in his second book, Creativity According to the Kingdom, is that art bypasses all of the normal thought and logic and cuts straight to the heart and emotion of the audience. He says it a little differently, but that’s the gist of it.

Art is powerful. Art is what makes us who we are. There is art everywhere we look, in music, in books, in poetry, in paintings and drawings and nature and life itself. Isn’t it incredible that we get to contribute to that legacy?

Whether you believe it or not, whether you are professional or not, whether you have been creating your entire life or for just a little while, what we do is important. And not everyone has the passion or ability to create. Embrace the gifts and skills you’ve been given and which you have worked so hard to develop.

Art is an integral part of life. It is emotion, yes, but it is emotion with substance.

Keep creating, fellow artists. No matter the audience, even if you create for yourself alone, don’t give it up. I promise you, what we do is so important.