We’ve all been there before. We get into our creative place, set aside plenty of time for ourselves, and then we freeze. Often times this leads to distraction, and then before we know it we lose track of time and ultimately end up with nothing to show for it. We walk away frustrated, knowing we floundered when we could have been focusing for all that time. We get too caught up in our own head and then we have nothing to show for it. We begin to doubt ourselves and end up worse for the wear.
So, what can we do to avoid falling into this trap? For starters, it helps to be prepared before ever getting into our creative space. Here’s a few tips on how you can prepare yourself with plenty of sources of inspiration when there are just none to be found.
Tip #1 – Keep an Idea Journal / Notepad
Idea journals are often cited among the best tools in a creative person’s toolkit. Inspiration can strike any time, anywhere, and being able to pull out the journal from your pocket and jot down your thoughts will help you by doing more of the footwork up front, before you ever sit down to make something. Think about how many times you have a sudden idea, think to yourself “oh, that’s a really good idea, and then just hope you remember it when the time comes to create?
Don’t do this to yourself.
Think about when it came time to take a test in school. You may have paid attention in class well enough, but then test day comes and suddenly you can’t remember anything. The exam is right there in front of you, but then you freeze. The pressure is on, and you suddenly have no idea what any of the answers are.
Now consider the tests where you were allowed to use notes that you took over the course of the semester. Suddenly, everything comes back to you and the burden of having to remember everything has been lifted from you. In the same way, you can walk into your creative session with all the notes you took in your daily life, relieving the burden of trying to remember all of what came to you when you were doing other things.
Tip #2 – Keep Journals by Your Bedside at Night
Along with having your journal in your pocket during the day, you should absolutely take it with you to bed. This serves two purposes – one, it allows you to jot down the thoughts in your head if you’re ever toiling in bed unable to fall asleep, and two, it allows you to capture your dreams.
It’s very common for us to think too much about things that happen to us throughout the day, so much so that it can cause us to lose sleep over it. Having a journal by our side allows us to put into words the things we are feeling. The things we write may not always be ideas for creative works that we get. They could simply be a list of the worries or concerns or things that bothered us through the day. Either way, unloading our thoughts onto paper can absolutely be therapeutic, potentially helping us sleep better at night.
You may even find that by jotting things down, you now have time to think about new ideas. Go ahead and write these down in a journal, too.
The best reason to keep a journal by your bedside, however, is to be able to finally capture those fleeting dreams we have at night. How many times have you woken up from a crazy dream, only to quickly completely forget the events of the wildly inventive setting you just created in your own mind? If we don’t act fast and write it down, there’s a very high likelihood all that work you just did in your sleep to give you future inspiration will be lost forever.
Get into the habit of jotting down your dreams as soon as you wake up, and you will not regret it.
Tip #3 – Go to the Library
Not all libraries are made the same, but all of them are there for us to enjoy. We take this service for granted, especially in the age of the Internet, but it is an absolute treasure trove of information that will help you to find new inspiration. Think about it – it’s one building that houses the gateways to infinite worlds. Somewhere in there, you may find inspiration. You may even find inspiration just walking through the aisles and looking at books.
If you are lucky enough to have a Microform Lab in your local library, then I’ll let you in on a little secret… There are so many things to be learned from our past, and it’s all there for you, ready to be discovered. Along with interesting older articles, there are many serial storytellers who wrote for newspapers. Some of it is even in the public domain. Still, you may be surprised at the quality of some of these stories, and any number of them could bring you inspiration to write stories with similar themes.
Aside from all of that, it’s always good to get in touch with the people who work for the library and make new connections. Often times, you will find that the people there are just as passionate about creativity as you are, and that may open up doors for you to which you never would have access otherwise.