33 Excellent “OUT OF THE BOX” Ways for Creatives to find Inspiration

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Feeling uninspired? Running dry on inspiration is normal. We all get there at some point and none of us feel very comfortable being there. Every one gets tensed when having no inspiration. In this article I’ll give you my best tips for how to get back to the creative corner.  Some tips may seem funny but seriously give them a try and you will love them.

1. Watch an old classic movie or tv-show

If have you have a very creative mind and your brain is working 24/7, you should consider doing something that doesn’t require too much thinking. Old classic movies like Dancing in the rain, Sound of music, wuthering Heights and so on, are movies made before realistic-looking aliens and sci-fi characters started roaming our television screens. These classics will give you a good story, bring emotions and not spam you with special effects and difficult-to-follow storylines. Maybe this is what you need. Curl up in your sofa, turn off the computer, turn on an old classic, live yourself into it and come out revived on the other end.

2. Visit a market

If you have some sort of market/farmers market near you, or maybe some old store with a lot of weird stuff in it, you should visit it. A spectre of colors, textures, the smell of fresh fruits, the people – all these things can boost your inspiration and creativity in ways you could never imagine. Just remember to be there in the moment and try not to allow yourself to be somewhere else in your mind. Turn off your cellphone and go there alone. You should even bring your camera if you can! Just remember to ask before taking pictures of peoples fruits and souvenirs. You’ll most likely get a yes anyway, but be polite 🙂

Photo by Eva Heinsbroek

3. Travel

Travelling to new places can do wonders to your creativity.A combination of new surroundings, new people, new flavors, smells and relaxing is great to get some refill. If you can travel occasionally, you should. Remember it doesn’t have to be to the other side of the world. A weekend at your aunt’s cottage or a drive to a nearby town is all it takes.

Photo by Nicolas Raymond

4. Explore your own home

You don’t have to be a professional photographer or own a studio to be inspired by the photos you take. I have my best experiences with my camera while just taking a lot of pictures of textures and decorations around the house. Several times I’ve gotten inspiration to new projects this way. Maybe there is a flower or a curtain that can inspire a new website layout? Or maybe you find something in the fridge that can inspire a new WordPress theme? It may sound odd to you, but if you give this “out-of-the-box” approach a try to keep your mind open there aren’t many limits to what you can find in your own home 🙂

5. Listen to new music

Creative minds often get inspired by music, that’s a known fact. If you like me get bored with that same old playlist you have running in the background – you should do something about it! Search the internet to find peoples favorites. Use charts or YouTube to find new artists and songs you havent heard before. The limitations are non-existent.

Photo by Dimitri Castrique

6. Random Wikipedia-articles

Sometimes when my brain just has run dry, and I have nowhere to look, I do random Wikipedia article searches. This can be a lot of fun actually as you obviously never know what you get. This can be a great way to find stories to read about more or less famous people and products, places you never knew existed and phenomenons that can blow your mind. Do a couple of these searches and maybe it can start off new and creative ideas for you. And knowledge is something you never should say no to anyway 🙂

7. Make a list of bad ideas (!!)

Photo by Gabriel Del castillo

As weird as this idea may sound, this is something that works for many people. Just recently I made a list of bad article ideas, just for laughs. These bad ideas triggered some truly great ideas and I got what I was out for. Give it a try, it may surprise you 😉

8. Pick up a new hobby

Having a hobby and being able to relax is such an important thing for creative minds. As much as you’d like to think so, your brain can’t work  at its best 24/7 forever. Many creatives have hobbies that relate to what they do, like photography, graphic design, programming – you name it. M tip is to pick up a new hobby that is a little bit different. It can still be creative, but in a different way. How about traditional drawing, playing the guitar, collecting stamps, reading geography, history or even knitting!
We can all benefit from new influences.Getting a new hobby can help you to see things differently, maybe you will even get a lot of new ideas to projects you currently work on. But don’t have that in your mind right then. Just pick up something new, set off some time for it daily or weekly and the inspiration will most likely take care of itself!

Photo by Sanja Gjenero

9. Read a biography

I’ve always been a big fan of watching documentaries about different people and also reading biographies. Reading about other peoples struggles and opportunities and how they have solved problems and made great things happen is very inspiring. Being able to learn from others peoples success and ideas can be very rewarding.

Photo by Piotr Bizior

10. Smell the flowers

Photo by Eva Schuster

How often have you actually stopped and smelled the flowers? Well, you should! And watch them too! Taking a walk out in the woods, or just in your own garden (if you have one) will expose you to the best nature has to offer. Watching sunsets is one thing, and it can be great too, but actually looking at the smaller parts of the nature around you can be very inspiring. Bringing your camera can be a great idea aswell. Take a look at plants and flowers, maybe you’ll even see a ladybug if you’re lucky. Take a closer look at the colors and textures, and smell the flowers. Take pictures of your favorites and look at them when you get back inside. Maybe you find a new color that would be perfect for a design you work on or maybe there is a texture you want to recreate for a project. The possibilities are many!

11. Explore YouTube

Just like exploring Wikipedia articles, exploring YouTube can give you many new ways of seeing things. Maybe you can even find music in there that you really enjoy, short movies, new friends, great tutorials to help you where you are stuck, the opportunities are endless. YouTube also has endless amounts of funny bloopers and other clips that will make you laugh or maybe even cry. Have an open mind and dig into it!

12. Reconnect with old friends

Photo by Susan Tito

Reconnecting with old friends is a true reward itself. But did you actually realise that this can help boos your inspiration aswell? One can never have too many friends, and these people who know you and love you just the way you are may have great stories to tell and new things to introduce you to. They can also help you take your mind of the things you currently struggle with and be great at giving valuable feedback.
If you like me almost daily think of people you should have sent a mail or called but never take the time to, you should just go for it.
If you are having a bad day or week it can all change with interaction from old friends. You can even put it in your schedule if needed!

13. Visit the Twitterverse

Exploring things is one of the most important things to find new inspiration. It is quite likely that you already are on twitter but there’s a good chance you don’t know all the awesome people who can be found there. Go ahead and read up on the things that are top tags on Twitter or search for words that match things you are interested in. Read peoples tweets about the subjects, jump into a conversation, make new friends, learn new things. The whole world is out there, waiting for you to interact 🙂

14. Play a “mindless” computer-game

Playing online games can introduce you to many new experiences. It can be easy card games, even solitaire. Or maybe have your brain try pick up how to play chess? Shoot ducks, do puzzles or play board games in real life with friends. Not only will you get to relax but it can be a lot of fun aswell. And if you are lucky the exposure to colors, patterns and so on can give you some extra inspiration.

Photo by Agata Urbaniak

15. Sing and dance

Man has danced and played music for thousands of years. Dig out that old guitar and play, sing in the shower or just dance around to your favorite tune when it comes on the radio. Not only is it fun to do these “weird” things but your brain relaxes, your blood flow will thank you and all your troubles will vanish. Maybe that is exactly what you need to get some new ideas or find the solution to what you are currently seeing as impossible challenges.

Photo by Admane Samir

16. Make an inspirational string/book

This is truly one of my favorite things to do occasionally.
I’ve mentioned this point in my “25 awesome tips to succeed as a freelancer” post aswell. What you do is take a piece of string, a cork board, a whiteboard or even a book to start off with. Then you add whatever you think can inspire you; a piece of fabric in your favorite color, a printout of your favorite inspirational quote, a picture of the car you’re saving to buy, a picture of your fiancé or your kids, your idols or the lyrics from your favorite song. Maybe even a printout of an inspiring cd cover, the possibilities are so many. And when you feel you need some extra boosting you can look at it. Very likely you can even get the inspiration needed from the actual process of making your inspirational string.

17. Redecorate your office space

If you feel stuck in the same old setting you should consider doing something about it. Redecorate your office, get another office chair, hang up some new pictures, move your desk to face another way. You will be surprised by how much this can mean for your creative input. Change your curtains, add an aquarium or repaint your walls. Use your creativity to create a new workspace and it will pay off.

18. Change your computers settings

Photo by Diego Ortega D.

Your computer being such an important tool for you, there is “redecoration” to be done in that department aswell. Just like spending time changing your office space you should do the same to your computer every now and then. You should change your background every now and then, maybe even make your own. If you know your way around programs like Photoshop you can even make your own “digital” inspirational string to keep on your desktop. Play around with new themes and skins to programs you are using frequently.

19. Laugh!

It aint for nothing they say that a good laugh will make you live longer. Dig out that old joke book you got for last Christmas or watch a sitcom. Look at old pictures or read old funny emails. Laughing will clear out your brain a bit and get those good creative thoughts coming easier. Everything doesn’t have to be so serious you know 😉

Photo by Clix

20. Check out your creative friend’s websites

There aren’t many things that will wake up your creativity as much as looking at other peoples work. You have that bunch of creative friends on twitter and Facebook but did you ever actually look at their websites and their work properly? Then do it! Looking at their work will immediately leave you with an opinion, what do you like and what do you not like. What would you have done different and are there any feelings that they communicate well through their designs? Take the time to explore their websites and visit the links they have in there aswell. This is a great way to see new and inspiring things.

21. Read up on something new

Just like getting that new different hobby, reading up on something completely new to you can have you think of things in new ways and see it from a different perspective. You can choose something totally unrelated to what you do daily or maybe read up on something related to what you do? Read up on color theory, programming, SEO, marketing or different new trends. Gaining the ability to approach challenges from new perspectives is a great gift to give yourself.

22. Learn how to use new software

If you are having a creative dry period it can be the perfect opportunity to take some time off to play around with some new software that you’ve always wanted to learn. This could be exploring the huge world of free software that is growing on a daily basis. An example can be if you are using Photoshop a lot, try out Gimp for a change, or check out Inkscape if you are an Illustrator fan. It doesn’t mean you have to start using this new software on a regular basis but maybe you find new ideas in playing around.

Photo by tucosandra

23. Play!

If you have children, pets or your brother wants you to babysit – jump into it! Play with Lego, puzzles, play children’s games or teach your dog new tricks. Playing is a soft version of using your creative skills and this can be a great way to get some newfound inspiration.

24. A day without a computer

If you are completely dried up creatively a day without a computer can be a new and awesome experience. I have tried this myself a couple of times and I can definitely recommend it. What you do with your day isn’t necessarily that important, maybe you’ll watch tv, go for a walk, meet up with friends, cook for your family or go for a drive. A funny thing I experienced was how suddenly all these good new ideas just came to mind on that day. Just make sure you have a notebook around to write down some keywords describing the thoughts that come to you, but don’t use the computer at all.

25. Clean up your digital mess

Many creative souls work best when there’s a lot going on around them and many open projects present. This can make quite a clutter on your desk, in your computer and everywhere really. If you just feel unable to bring anything new to the projects you are currently working on, take the time to clean up a bit instead. Organise those documents properly, delete old unusable things, make your surroundings a little more controlled. Maybe you will find new inspiration in old things you have lying around or at least you will have a more friendly environment to work in when you start-up again. Myself I sometimes use a lot of my brain capacity thinking of all those small things I should have organized, deleted or freshened up. By doing so you may be doing your creative brain a favour.     Photo by Sanja Gjenero

26. Do something that isn’t “you”

Do something out of character. If you hate Jazz, try listening to it. Go visit a museum or some local attractions in your area. Volunteer in the local soup kitchen, take a beginners class in something that sounds exciting, gather some friends and go fishing, watch a tv channel you never watch usually, dress up a bit fancier than usual, make a better dinner than you usually do, go out for lunch with someone you haven’t seen in a while, read every article in the newspaper. Inspiration can many times be found in the least expected places.

Photo by Richard Dudley

27. Visit a café and look at the people around you

Go to a café, buy a coffee and just sit there! Have a look at the people around you (without being rude of course;) ) enjoy the coffee and just absorb the surroundings. Maybe you see fascinating characters that can inspire you or get ideas for new things just by chilling.

28. Talk to other creatives

Sharing your experiences with other creatives you know can be very valuable – both ways. These people understand where you’re coming from and they’ve probably had hard days too. Maybe they have some great new ideas for you to pick up or some valuable feedback regarding how you can work and where you can find inspiration. Meet them in person if you can, or look at forums. This can save you hours of frustration, get you new friends and more!

Photo by Joris Verstuyft

29. Help someone for free

Photo by Billy Alexander

Not only can this inspire you but giving something for free to those in need is very rewarding. There is always someone around you less fortunate and the moment you choose to seem them and help them you will feel very blessed. It can be everything from helping people get their photos printed out and framed, helping your neighbour who is struggling to creative his own website for his family to all kinds of volunteer work. Check out your local newspaper and message boards, there is always something to find there. Myself I have several times helped people by taking pictures for them, creating logos and websites for small struggling businesses, shoveling snow for someone or just being there for a chat. Helps you put thing in perspective and lower your shoulders a bit. And most important: you can make someone else happy.

30. Try out some new food

Many people get stuck in old routines and your creativity will suffer from this in the long run. Dare to find a new recipe and make something completely different. Your brain is happy to get new exciting things to do and food can be an inspiration in so many ways.

31. Look at tutorials

If you are stuck with something specific and really need to get it done ASAP, searching online for tutorials can be a lifesaver. If you don’t have the solution on how to do that one specific thing in a program or anything else really, there’s always someone else out there who knows it. YouTube is a great place to start, and there are tons of forums for any subject out there. Not only can you get help to solve that one specific problem but there’s a good chance you will run into new knowledge and ideas along the way. My Photoshop, Illustrator, drawing, WordPress and photography knowledge was widely expanded once i started exploring the world of tutorials. And many of my best ideas have been born while watching these.

Photo by JadeGordon

32. Take pictures

Photo by abcdz2000

Anyone can take a picture. You don’t have to be a born photographer or have the best equipment to take good photos. All you need is just to go out there and take photos of things that amaze and inspire you. Maybe some of the pictures can actually be used for something later, but that isn’t the point. Taking pictures you will be lead to think of possibilities and looking at the world from different angles. Much inspiration can be drawn from these situations.

33. Get feedback from “the outside”

If you want honest feedback from people who don’t necessarily know you or have met you before – the internet is the place to go. Forums can be a great way to get feedback from like-minded and you can share links to your work in social media, upload work to places like deviantArt or YouTube and the feedback will soon start coming. As long as you are able to separate constructive feedback from the unfair you can get many new ideas from this.

Photo by Adam Ciesielski

Those were my best tips on how to get some new inspiration. I hope you find something valuable here for you. My last tip is to dare try out new things even if they may sound a bit different or difficult at first.

Please feel free to share your own stories, inspirational tips and feedback in the comments! 🙂

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