Creativity and Inspiration
There have been many debates and comments I’ve heard through the years about creativity and ideas to find inspiration. What does it even mean to find inspiration? If you look up songwriting, you can do a search on songs that were written in less than an hour.* Many musicians start out thinking they could write a song if inspiration hits, overnight. After all, Paul McCartney wrote the song Yesterday literally overnight as the song came to him in a dream. (See: Music and Art)
But inspiration and creativity is fueled by hours and hours in creating a creative bank. Those hours can be filled with reading, listening, writing and rewriting, basically filling your inspiration tank. When inspiration does hit, it feels like it happened overnight, but really, it’s based on many of the thoughts and inspirations you have stored away. Here, we will ask 5 questions to spark your creative process. They will include reading, listening, getting outside, journaling and taking courses. We’ll start with reading.
What are You Reading?
Whether an audio book, book on a device or a physical book, get reading. It doesn’t always matter what you’re reading, but find something to engage your mind. When listening to Richard Rogers speak, part of the musical duo, Rogers and Hammerstein, he said something that really impacted my creative process.
He said, For every word I write, I read 2,000 words. 2,000 words is approximately four single-spaced pages. Of course, the number of words, or lyrics, used in a song depends on the type of song. Many musical songs are linear, without the type of repetition of standard pop songs so they tend to have more lyrics. And when you have a musical like Hamilton that uses Rap, with twice as many words per minute as the standard musical song, you would be reading forever with Roger’s principle! But the point is, just read regularly!
What are You Listening to?
I did a study on Classical Music when recording my album Classical Spice, even sending out a small study booklet to schools interested in adding music history lessons using the recordings. Then, when writing the book Music for Kids, I wrote a bonus chapter entitled The Mozart Effect.
I wrote in that chapter why Einstein played Mozart and how he used music as a tool to help him in his work. His second wife Elsa said, Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories. He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study.
There are many other types of media to listen to besides music of course, including books and podcasts. But I encourage you to add a few classical music pieces as part of your listening playlist. Then choose podcasts and other media that will inspire and spark your creativity.
Are You Getting Outside?
In Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, there is a chapter called Embrace Boredom and one of the things he suggests is getting outside to clear your mind. Schedule the occasional break from focus to give in to distraction. In my opinion, getting outside among nature can do wonders in clearing the clutter in the brain. When I’m walking among giant trees or looking at the waves crash on the sand or gazing at the plethora of a star-lit sky, all evoke a certain feeling of awe and magnitude in my heart.
I realize the vastness of nature, creation and what is around me. My little world is just a micro spec of the big picture. When looking at a 400-year-old oak tree that has stood longer than four generations of people, I wonder what little children used to climb on its branches.
With the diversion that getting outside creates, it’s sure to spark creativity. Plan small breaks, whether walking outdoors in your area, going on a local day trip or getting away longer when you can. It doesn’t have to cost much and the investment of time is well-worth it.
Are You Journaling?
I am a big believer in journaling. The book, The Artist’s Way encourages longer times of journaling, but that is not always possible for many, especially if caring for small children or even parents. However, the main benefit of journaling is putting your thoughts down consistently and even short spurts are valuable. (See: Article Writing)
I started a 90-day journal challenge, just writing a few lines a day. It’s become a daily morning routine and it was easy to implement as I had the mindset of writing out a simple thought. I knew that thoughts disentangle themselves through the fingertips, then the lips. I had heard that saying for many years and now after experiencing it for some years, I believe in it even more. It works, you just need to start.
Create a simple routine and a specific place to journal. Journaling doesn’t need to take longer than 5 minutes, but of course you can spend as long as you want. Just do it!
What Courses are You Taking?
Our education never ends. There are many stories of lifelong learners. I am inspired by the story of the creator of Lynda.com, now LinkedIn Learning. Lynda Weinman created Lynda.com in 1995 with courses that included everything from excel to word processing to web design. I subscribed to the learning platform when I first started to edit my websites, which at that point was HTML. It was invaluable information and took me step-by-step. That step-by-step method continues to inspire me when creating my courses. (See: A New Way of Doing Business)
After selling Lynda.com (for 1.5 billion!) Weinman said about what was next. There's a lot I want to make sure I take the time to carefully consider, and I think it's important to have a break and refresh and come to it with a beginner's mind, whatever the next thing is.** A beginners mind. I love that attitude of always learning, always looking ahead with that mindset. If that attitude is at the forefront of your creative process, you are sure to find inspiration. It will also keep you young!
Fun Resources for Finding Inspiration
There are many resources. These are just a few to get you started!
Climer Cards: These Cards can be used in dozens of team activities.
The 30 Day Creativity Challenge by Ed Bell
The Writer’s Toolbox by Jamie Cat Callan
If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning