How to Find Inspiration for Creativity [7 Brilliant Methods!]

a lightbulb showing inspiration for creativity

Key Takeaways:

  • Seeking new experiences and engaging in meaningful conversations can spark fresh ideas.
  • Observational awareness, such as people-watching, can give you many stories and character ideas.
  • Exercise can boost creativity by increasing blood flow and reducing stress, making it easier for ideas to flow.

Are you feeling uninspired? Are you having trouble getting your creative juices flowing? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with finding inspiration for creativity.

Early in my career, I often wondered how artists and creative people continually find inspiration for their creative pursuits. Though I had many ideas – a number of which became novels and films – there were times I would draw a blank, especially when it came to writer’s block. I would ask the same question in those moments…

Where do painters, sculptors, novelists, or screenwriters get new and fresh ideas?

It is important to remember that inspiration is not a magical force that comes from nowhere. It can be found if you know where to look. Luckily, there are lots of places where you can get creative inspiration. Read on for tips about where and how to find ideas that will help with your next story or creative project!

The good news is that inspiration is literally all around you. It’s everywhere. You just have to be open to it.

Neil Chase, Author
Infographic on ways to find inspiration and ideas for creative pursuits

How Can I Find Inspiration for Creativity?

1. Exercise & Nature.

When it comes to exercise, most people focus on the physical benefits: the endorphins, the weight loss, and the muscle tone.

But exercise can also be incredibly beneficial for your mental health, including your inner creativity.

When you work out, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting and stress-relieving effects. Exercise can also help increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, improving brain function and cognitive performance.

And finally, exercise can help to reduce anxiety and depression, both of which can interfere with your creative process.

While you exercise, you can let your ideas run free instead of trying to force them while you sit at your desk. Try to let your creative ideas develop naturally! Even taking just a few deep breaths can really help.

So if you’re feeling stuck creatively, going for a run or hitting the gym (even just a few minutes a day!) could be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

Find inspiration through exercise, such as running

2. Interesting life experiences.

One of the best ways to find insight for creative endeavors is to live an exciting life. Pursuing new experiences and exposing yourself to different cultures can open your mind to new possibilities.

Inspiration often comes through the experiences we have in the real world. Sometimes, a conversation with a friend or family member will spark a new idea, while other times it may be an event or incident that you participate in or observe.

When talking with people around you, try going past superficial topics like sports, fashion, or trends and instead discuss real issues, experience real emotions, and open yourself up to the occasion in some way. It may take you out of your comfort zone, but real talk leads to genuine emotion, which can result in real and new ideas. 

Then, turn that experience into emotion and have that emotion tell a story within you. After that, you can start to translate that story through whatever medium you choose. Some people love to paint, others create music, and still others choose creative writing.

Traveling is another great way to broaden your horizons and learn about different ways of life. Even if you can’t physically travel, reading books, watching movies, and talking to people from other cultures can help you expand your worldview.

Additionally, it’s essential to have a variety of hobbies and interests. The more you know about the world around you, the more likely you are to find your creative genius. Pursuing new experiences and learning about different cultures and hobbies can set the stage for a lifetime of creativity!

If you are a writer, you can often find ideas for great themes in your stories by living an interesting life and paying attention to the world around you! There are so many social, political, and cultural themes that you could bring into your writing. Some examples include the idea of heroism, power and corruption, justice, and personal identity.

Find inspiration through conversations with friends

3. Observational awareness.

When it comes to finding inspiration for your own creativity, people-watching can be a great way to get new ideas flowing. Endless stories and ideas are waiting to be discovered just by observing the people around you. The best part is that it can be done anywhere at any time, making it a very accessible source of inspiration.

To make the most of people watching, try to find a place where there is a lot of activity and variety. A busy street corner or a crowded coffee shop are perfect examples. Then, simply take a seat and start observing.

Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and clothing choices. Once you notice patterns, you can begin to piece together stories and create characters in your mind.

With a little practice, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to find inspiration through people-watching!

In addition, think about the people on the news or in the history books you’ve read. Or think about the fictional characters you love or love to hate from your favorite movies or novels. Study the ones that intrigue you or make you feel strongly about what they did or how they did it.

There are so many characters all around us, both real and imaginary that we can tap into and use as inspiration for our creative skills. 

Some things to think about when observing people are: 

  • What draws you to them? Is it physical or something deeper?
  • How do they move? 
  • How did they talk? 
  • How do they interact with other people when they walk into a room? 
  • Are they the person that’s in charge? Or are they the wallflower that’s off to the side? 
  • Are they bombastic and loud? Are they meek and small? 
  • Are they happy all the time? Angry all the time?
  • What have they accomplished? Or do they need to accomplish something?
  • Are they the kind of person who makes you ask “How?” Or the kind that makes you ask “Why?” Or the kind that makes you ask, “What if?”

These days, we see a generation with their noses buried in their phones, walking down the street, not even knowing the light has changed, let alone seeing the real world all around them.

People these days do not notice enough.

The real world is a distraction to the virtual when it should be the other way around – especially for creatives!

Instead, enjoy life and actually experience it! Then, you can use that experience as a basis for your creative pursuit. The more you watch, read, and learn, the easier it will be to gather new ideas for your own creative projects!

Finding inspiration through watching others

4. Consume content in your field.

As creatives, our biggest tool is the mind. Nothing stimulates the mind more to brainstorm creative ideas than reading the work of other authors, watching the work of other filmmakers, listening to the music of other musicians, or looking at beautiful pieces of art.

This is common among successful artists. All great painters study the masters and emulate their techniques before attempting their own. The Louvre is full of aspiring painters copying the masterpieces on the walls.

Likewise, all great filmmakers watch and rewatch the works of those they admire and apply their techniques.

Quentin Tarantino openly admits that he takes work from other people and uses it in his own films when he says,

Great artists steal. They don’t do homages.

Quentin Tarantino

Is it any surprise that another famous artist, Pablo Picasso, also said the following?

Good artists copy. Great artists steal.

Pablo Picasso

As you watch a film, you might think, “This shot worked well in this movie, or this type of character works well, and I’m going to try to combine them into something nobody’s really seen before.”

By doing so, you can turn other people’s techniques and experiences into your own unique perspective of those elements. It’s the combining and retelling that makes it fresh.

We have at our fingertips the entire knowledge of human civilization. That means that pretty much every story ever written is available to us to explore, to read, to study, and to use as inspiration.

Neil Chase, Author

5. Family stories and experiences.

Somebody told me once that when you start to write, write what you know. For the vast majority of us, what do we know better than the people in our immediate lives – our families?

Our parents, grandparents, siblings, and children are an endless source of unique, first-hand experiences through multiple generations and events, both global and deeply personal.

So talk to these people!

Find out about the events and experiences they find important and why. How have they struggled or sacrificed or accomplished? And what stories can they tell you of those who came before them?

Our families are a wealth of stories that others may not have yet heard, and as storytellers, we have an obligation to pass them down to others. And if you find through this exercise that you don’t know as much as you thought about your own family, then it’s a great way to learn and grow closer to those you love!

find inspiration through family stories

6. Listen to music you love.

Music can be a wonderful inspiration for storytelling. Many writers listen to music while they write.

Often, writers will pick songs that will evoke the specific emotions that they are trying to capture in a given scene or chapter. For example, if something sad is happening in the story, you can cue some music that emotionally brings you to that state – perhaps a ballad or a love song that reminds you of lost love or a difficult period of your life.

Or, if you are writing the climax of the film, you might put on something powerful or soul-stirring like a Hans Zimmer score or a piece by John Williams. It might be a piece of music that will help propel your characters onward to where they need to go, or it might be a piece that reflects their emotions during a difficult moment in the story.

Music is fantastic at getting us into different headspaces and seeing a particular moment in a completely different light depending on the piece.

Listen to music while writing to be inspired

7. Bonus Tip: Play like a child!

As outlined in this article from Lifehack, another method for increasing my creative flow is to play like a child! As a father with two kids, I find that taking time out of my day to play can help get my creativity going!

Try playing a board game, a game of pretending, or just a rough and tumble game like chase or tickles, or even a team sport activity – and see if this distraction from your creative work helps to get your wheels turning to bring you new ideas!

How to Capture Your Ideas

Use your phone as a recorder

One of the best things we can do is physically record ideas. We all have our phones with us these days, and they are wonderful tools to have. We don’t have to carry around notebooks anymore. Phone apps, such as the Notepad app, allow us to write down our ideas at all times.

The voice recorder app is even easier! You just hit the button and talk. It’s unfiltered and raw and in the moment. You don’t have to worry about editing. It’s all about getting the ideas down as quickly as possible. There has never been an easier way to record our ideas and inspirations for later use.

Have templates ready

Another strategy is to set yourself up for when you get an idea. Give yourself a plan.

For screenwriters, we can keep a template for a “one-sheet” available at all times. You can take a few minutes to write a tagline, logline, short synopsis, and potential character descriptions for each story you’re working on or may want to develop further. And pretty soon, you’ve got a folder with about 10 sheets that could be feature films, novels, or short stories.

find inspiration for creativity

Final Thoughts

The next time you feel creatively blocked, try one of these methods to jump-start your creative thinking. It’s important to remember that there is no one right way to be creative and no secret sauce for coming up with great ideas for films, short films, novels, or other art. All it takes is a willingness to experiment, explore new possibilities, and have fun.

Ideas are everywhere. You just have to be open to them!

What creative endeavor will you start today?

Looking for more inspiration for writing or other artistic pursuits? Check out these helpful articles!

Importance of Persistence for Creatives

4 Ways to Know Your Worth as an Artist

The 40+ Best Gifts for Creative People: Reviewed

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