Friday, May 21, 2010

Inspiration: Getting It and Keeping It

It can be hard to find inspiration, whether you are doing some writing (I'm working on my first novel) or some other project (from house organizing to graphic design work--both of which I've been doing a lot lately).

I even had a hard time getting inspiration to write this post. I started it on Wed and am very late posting it on Fri because I could not figure out all that I wanted to say. I was having inspiration problems on a post about inspiration. Irony!

To get inspiration, here are some techniques I use:

1. Read. I find that if I browse my favorite blogs or sites, I will often find things which excite me or make me think about what I am working on in a new way.

Some of my favorite blogs:
Happiness Project
1000 Awesome Things
Cake Wrecks

For comics, I like:
2d Goggles (adventures of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace)
Digger (if you haven't seen it, start from the beginning and be enthralled)
Girl Genius (long, long comic but great from the start, especially if you enjoy steampunk)
Basic Instructions
The Meek (although I'm not sure where it is going, I like it so far)

Glance through Cafe Press designs (here are two good examples from today's browsing:
Plays with Robots

2. Enjoy the natural world:
Go outside for a walk. Look out your window. Go to the park. Do something to get you out of your normal indoor surroundings.

3. Daydream:
It may seem counter intuitive but it can be a productive thing--as long as I set a limit to it and get to work afterwards. :)

4. Brainstorm:
That's right. If I am having difficult writing, I just write a whole bunch.

5. Play the right music:
If I am doing something active, like organizing, then my favorite 80s rock songs. If it is a mental exercise, then classical music or my section of the ipod labelled Favorite Instrumental (movie themes and other cool stuff).

Keeping inspiration can be a bit harder. Too often it is hard to stick with a project, especially a big one.

I try to do the following to stick with things:

1. Stop for a break only when I have something exciting to finish (be in the middle of a good part--not a tough part).

2. When writing, finish mid sentence or paragraph, not at the end of a chapter.

3. When organizing, set the work on the bed when it is in mid-progress so that I have to return to it before I go to sleep or be forced to move it when it is half done.

4. Promise myself a reward for getting more done.

5. Set a timer and just promise myself another 15 minutes or half hour on the project. This works if I am struggling because by 15 minutes, I may be so involved again, I decide to continue. I would have quit 15 minutes ago, but I pushed through and now I don't want to stop!

Do you have any tips for getting and keeping inspiration?


  1. Good post. Walking, and getting out of one's routine, are great catalysts of inspiration. It does seem to strike me when least expected, so I always carry a notebook, pen and camera (and at home ensure I can quickly lay hands on them), and take care to make the effort to stop and catch it before I forget.

    With big household tasks, I try and pay attention to when I actually feel inspired to do them, and that helps the motivation take care of itself.

    With longer-term projects, I try and remind myself that, if they began with inspiration, that's both a gift and a message to stick with them regardless.

    I recently started a new blog about balance:

    (if you'd like to drop by and have a look)

    Now I've started posting I have huge doubts of all sorts about this blog; the only thing that's keeping me going is the memory of what the inspiration to do it felt like.

  2. I see you've been rethinking your blog posted above. I hope you enjoy Wales, Astral Cat, and decide what is right for you for that blog.

    Maybe my most recent post about using the ROI calculation will help you. Does the benefit of having the blog (as a place to talk things out or something else as a benefit) outweigh the working of writing it? I can see that this is a hard decision. I've found it increasingly hard to keep my writing schedule of MWF for this blog. I can see why so many people start blogs but don't continue them.

    I also see why some of my favorite blogs have either imploded or changed so substantially as to be much less than they were before they became big/famous blogs. Doing this for too long could become quite difficult. I'm having to think about how to work ahead more so that I'm not stuck when posting day comes along.

  3. Oh, and just be clear, none of the blogs I linked above have imploded or changed but some blogs that used to be at the top of my list have changed drastically in the last year (burnt out? got book contracts and changed? personal issues? the reasons seem to vary) and none of them made the list in this blog. Before the change, they would have......but not anymore. I miss the old versions of those blogs very much....

  4. The ROI idea is really helpful, I'm going to give that some more thought. The nearest I've got to it is trying to be honest about: do I really want to do something (in which case investment of time, money, energy etc is worth perseversing with), or do I feel I ought to do something (in which case it's likely to turn into a drag and become a source of guilt, worry, etc).

    Yes, a lot of blogs do burn out. Yesterday I was reading one that actually admitted that they have a natural lifespan, and that was kind of liberating. Regularly-posted and commercialised blogs can get very formulaic - there's an accepted idea that you need to post daily to make a blog successful, but I think with those there can come a point where it's better to post less frequently but offer something richer.

    I hope you keep yours going: you have a focus, and you have only committed to a year, both of which might help you sustain it.

    & we'll see about my new one ...


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