Creative Chaos: Finding Inspiration When You’re Frazzled

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Stefanie Johnson




It makes every aspect of life richer, more fulfilling, and fun.  There are very few projects that can’t be improved without it.  Whether you’re required to be creative for your profession or you have a hobby you’re passionate about, creativity has to flow.  It can’t be forced.


Creativity tends to slow down and even stop up entirely when we’re stressed out or under pressure.  So, what can you do to get things flowing again?


If you’re under a deadline and can’t think of what you want to do, the worst thing you can do is get angry at yourself.  That will just worsen your creativity block, and chances are you will end up taking out your frustration on those around you.


Instead, look around.  Inspiration is all around us.  In the big things, the small things, the bright chaos of the world.  Everything may seem to be in disorder, but there is a pattern.  Here are a few tips for finding the pattern, the creativity, amidst the stress and chaos:


1 – Stop and Look Up

What contains more possibilities than the endless sky?  The distant horizon?  Dawn, dusk, sun, rain, stars.  The entire universe stretches out all around you, a vast, whirling adventure just waiting to be explored.  On a day where the sun is golden and the clouds fly above, lay back and look for the shapes in them.  You can find a million pictures in the clouds.


2 – Search for Patterns

Really look at things with complex textures like the bark of a tree, a ridged pebble, or an antique lace curtain.  If you focus long enough, you will see what most people miss – a story within the pattern, or maybe even a face looking back at you.  Let go, and let your mind wander.  You’ll be surprised at the things you see.


3 – People-Watch

Sit down in a crowded place and just watch the drama unfolding around you.  Look at the people who pass, and hypothesize about who they are, how they live.  Each one of them has their own unique story.  Let those stories capture your imagination, and carry them with you.


4 – Open a Book  

Regardless of what your preferred genre is, books are food to the mind and soul.  If you feel empty of words, starving for phrases, a book can be a banquet.  To really get your creative motor running, try picking up something you wouldn’t usually consider.  You might be pleasantly surprised.


5 – One Man’s Trash…

Some artists specialize in using trash or recycled goods in their art.  Where most people saw something useless and worn out, they saw possibilities.  Turning the discarded into something evocative and beautiful is a wonderful skill.  You may not feel compelled to fashion an avant garde sculpture out of water bottles, but thinking in this way may lead you to an idea that is truly unique and special. 


6 – Collect Random Snippets

If you come across a photo or a poem that inspires you, keep it in a special folder or box so that you can look back at it when you’re running low on creativity.  This way you have something close at hand that can get you jump started.


7 – Watch Critters in Action

If you own a pet, you probably have many, many stories about their cute mannerisms and personality.  If you don’t own a pet, take some time out to watch birds in a park, or maybe even go to a zoo.   


8 – Squiggle, Jot, and Record

Carry a notebook and pen around with you as much as you can.  You could even carry around a mini-recorder, if you don’t like writing things down.  Squiggle sketches.  Jot down sentence fragments. Record random ideas.  Later, you may be able to turn all these little pieces into something more coherent.


9 – Go Somewhere New

Make time to visit a place you’ve never visited before.  Who knows who you’ll meet, what new sights you might see, or what adventures you could have?  It can be as dramatic as a trip to a foreign country, or as small as taking a new road on your daily walk.


When your creativity is running on empty, keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be just fine.  Most importantly, leave yourself open.  Look around you.  Laugh.  Have fun and relax, and before you know it, your creative block will be a thing of the past.


“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”
-William James


“In order to create, we draw from our inner well.  This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well stocked fish pond … If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked … As artists, we must learn to be self nourishing.  We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them — to restock the trout pond, so to speak.”
-Julia Cameron


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Posted on 21 December, 2008 in Making the Day Count, Motivation
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