Inspiration is part of a process.

In an earlier post, I have promised to say something about each of the seven stages of creativity. The one most of us think of first is inspiration. Although it is an essential part of the process, it is of little use without all the others, beginning with preparation, as I have explained in another post. 

Of course, this lightbulb moment can occur at any stage of the process, but it is unlikely to do you any good if you haven’t identified the problem properly through preparation. You also usually need to have allowed time for your ideas to incubate, before the inspiration comes. Don’t try too hard to force it.  On the other hand, it is unwise to rush to the next phase until you have experienced at least one blinding flash of inspiration to set you on your way.

Where does inspiration come from?

It is hard to say. We are all different. It is, however, not the logical result of your reasoning. Not only. It is the bit that comes out of the blue. Often as a complete, or near-complete, idea.

How can you encourage inspiration?

Sometimes it just comes. But you can help inspiration to come. Usually it does not happen when you are in the office, working on your project, because you want your analytical brain to take a back seat and let your creative imagination take over for a while.

Inspiration often comes when you are relaxed, say in the shower or in the bath. Being close to nature often helps. This does not have to mean going to the jungle or climbing a mountain. A park or your own garden will do.  When you are surrounded by green, even green wallpaper, you may be more creative.

A man with a magnifying glass, looking for inspiration. That's the wrong way!

A man with a magnifying glass, looking for inspiration. That’s the wrong way!

Does physical exercise invite inspiration?

Another way to relax and put the creative side of your brain into gear, while turning off, or down, your analytical side, is to take some gentle exercise. That can energise you. Not excessive exercise. You won’t think of anything useful, or think at all, if you’re exhausted. What you do should depends on yourself: your preferences and your state of fitness. For some an hour’s jog is fine. For me, it would be too much. A half-hour’s brisk walk is about right. A swim, a bike-ride, a session in the gym, whatever. Just do what comes easily: don’t tire yourself out.

This does not mean you shouldn’t do hard workouts or long runs. Just don’t expect many good ideas to come to you when you’re collapsed in a heap gasping for breath.

Capture your inspiration!

Don’t waste it. Always have a notebook handy. And a pen. Or be modern and use the notebook facility or your phone or tablet, so long as you can access it quickly. The note needs to be only as long and as detailed as you need, in order to recall what that blinding flash was about.

Good luck! Be inspired!