#writerswednesday: Tips for Creativity & Inspiration

#writerswednesday: tips for creativity & inspiration

As there are many creatives out there in different fields, be it photography, film making, writing, singing, acting, modelling, dancing, painting, whatever, I realised that often they are confronted with the same or similar problems.
Some of them being in the direction of the following:

* I’m not in the mood, I don’t know where to go with my art, it feels useless what I’m doing
* I have the feeling that I’m just repeating and reproducing what I’ve already done
* I have too many ideas and my mind is all over the place so that I feel like getting actually nothing done

These and similar thoughts I myself have encountered, but I also heard them quite frequently from other creatives, as by now I know quite many of them.
That’s why I’d like to share some advice with you. And this is not just for writers or photographers or other creatives.
Creative comes from create and therefore, any task that creates something can be seen as a creative task.
Be it gardening, redecorating your home or something else.
To cope with all these negative, limiting and blocking thoughts, I’m gonna share some tips with you that helped me all along the way of my creative path.

1. Take a break, have a coffee*. Consume art.

* can be substituted by anything you like, tea, whiskey, chocolate, cake…

When you feel like not being in the mood, like having all these ideas in your mind but they don’t mould into the next great piece of art, leave it. Let it take a rest. Don’t let inspiration run away, but give it a little time.
If you feel like being really blocked from it, it can also help to consume a lot of art to get into your own flow again.
As a writer, read. And read a lot.
As a photographer or model, watch a lot of pictures, follow other models/photographers and get your inspo board refreshed.
As a film maker, watch a lot of movies.
As a cook, read recipes, watch cooking shows or youtube videos.
The list could go on like that now, but I think you already got it.
This is not to say consume a lot in order to copy, but in order to get your inspiration back on track.

2. Sit down. Turn your phone off. Produce.

When your mind is so overflowing with ideas that you’re loosing track and you always think “I don’t know where to start.” this is gonna be lethal to your inspirational flow.
Instead, sometimes, although it feels like sh*t, just take the next best thing on your list (or if you already prioritised, take the top priority), sit down and get something done. Just start.
Or if you feel totally lost, like nothing great is coming out of your mind, take one thing that has been on your to do list for a quite a while or take a small creative task and push it forward.

As Picasso said “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

So, if you’re missing inspiration, it’s not necessarily gonna come while you’re contemplating about not having inspiration, you know.
In most cases, negative thoughts create a negative environment, so why should inspiration feel invited?
Create an invitational environment for inspiration and keep on working!

3. Try something new.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and you’re only reproducing and repeating things that you already did and you tend to be bored by yourself and your art, just try something new.
Again, this is not to copy someone else, but if for instance you’re a writer of romantic stories and you’re completely stuck, try to write, dunno, a detective story or something from a different genre. Just to see whether you like it or not, to challenge yourself and to keep your mind in your creative field but with a different perspective.
This can also add to your own authentic voice, because maybe you find out that you actually like this genre, or parts of it or even that you don’t like it at all. It doesn’t matter. Either way it’s gonna show you something about you and your art and work.
For me, I realised that the #sundaystory helped a lot with this. It is challenging to combine the prompts to something coherent and as the mood or tone or genre is given as well, sometimes they are completely off my normal field of creative work. But I consider it exciting and really refreshing to use my skills in a different genre and to learn and grow with it.
Of course, this also works in other fields, cook something new, wear a combination of clothes that you haven’t worn before, style yourself in a manner that you’ve never styled yourself before in, take photos of things that normally don’t attract your photographic attention, etc.
Just try something new. It’s refreshing and helps you grow and learn.
About you. About your work. About your art.

4. Communicate. Meet friends. Chitchat. Share. Exchange.

One of my creeds and believes is “Inspiration through communication”.
Oftentimes while chatting with close friends, business partners and strangers, this exchange gives me impulses that hit a spot that was untouched before. And sometimes a good conversation is all you need to get you back on track again.
More often than not, when my mind is overflowing with ideas and I don’t how to prioritise them or whether they make sense or not, calling my best friend and chatting with her over a nice cup of coffee is the best thing I can do.
It’s not only her input, although it’s a beautiful input and I feel blessed to have such great friends, but it’s also that while you’re talking to someone else, you’re also talking to yourself and in that moment you shape things in a manner that you weren’t able to when everything was just in your own head.

5. Take yourself on a date.

As much as communication and conversation with people can be inspiring and give you impulses, as much is it important to take some time just for yourself. And no, darling, I don’t mean you on your own, glued to your phone, having a ton of chats open and still communicating with others.
I mean you, yourself and you again.
And when I say take yourself on a date, I really mean it.
Don’t go to the laundry service alone with a cuppa to go and call it a date, ok?
Don’t cheat!
I really mean, if you were another person taking yourself on a date, what would it look like?
Would you go to a restaurant? A cafe? To the cinema? Taking a long walk in a park?
Whatever you consider your dream date to look like, don’t wait for anyone, treat yourself to it.
Sometimes you would find me in a cafe with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, mostly with my paper notebook or my laptop or a book to read, enjoying some time alone, just doing things that I love and that inspire me.
And no, no, no, I don’t do it to have a cute picture to post on instagram.
I mean yes, you caught me, that happened too, but I don’t go there in the first place to promote and advertise dating oneself on social media, you know. If I do so, I do it because I’m in the mood.
One of the things that I also love doing is getting up early in the morning, when the streets are still quiet and drive into a city, any city that I like, and walk the streets, watching all the details of architecture for example, taking pictures of the rising sun between houses or a beautiful flower on a wall or anything that captures my attention and that I therefore want to capture too. It’s really an intensive feeling taking a walk alone and watch a city waking up.
Sometimes I also take a walk in a forest or in a park or at a sea, whatever I feel like. And yes, a lot of the times I’m talking to myself.
I mean, hey, this is a date, huh? And normally we do talk on dates, don’t we?

General advice: Disconnect.
In many cases it’s a good choice to enjoy these moments disconnected from emails, social media and chats.
This is not a necessity, but it helps you refocus on what’s important to you without comparing yourself and your art to others and their work. And this gives you more freedom in your mind to work on your very own business.
You can still share the pictures you took, the things you’ve done, the experiences you made later on, but grant yourself a little time to really feel them inside of yourself.

I hope these tips and advice gave you some impulses on how to get yourself and your creative energy flowing again.
Of course there are many more things that I could put on this list and I might make a series out of it, but right now, I don’t want to bore you until the last spark of inspirational flow ran out by reading a blog post that was waaaayyyy too long.

Plus, guess what I’m gonna do? Yup, I just heard some coffee call my name. Can you hear it, too?

How to stay creative Tipp #2

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar

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Sit down in a café and observe the surrounding and the people!

I don’t necessarily mean meet your friends in a café, but I mean, really take a little time for yourself and sit down in a café on your own, order your favourite drink and maybe a piece of cake and just observe.
Let the surrounding unfold its various impressions and take a look at the people.
What a friend and I did quite a long time ago was this: We sat down in a café together (it was summer, so we could sit outside, but it also works when you sit inside and can look outside) The pedestrians passing by inspired us and when for instance a couple packed with bags and upset facial expressions came along, one of us said “Okay, I’m the man, you take the woman!” and we began to synchronise them. The funniest and absurdest dialogues emerged. They must have been far away from what the people actually thought or said, but it was a nice amusement. (that I’d like to do again one day)
The basic principle of this procedure must be the same as the one underlying improvisational theatre, because you have to include all movements and facial expressions and plot-twists. But it also works without a second person in whose company you can develop such conversations.
But to think about what the people might think, what they are doing at that moment, where they come from, where they are going, can be the basis for a good story. As well as the surrounding can support the atmosphere.
Especially now in the hectic of the advent season, while oneself is seated comfortably in a café, you can find sources of inspiration. It also works in the summer, seating yourself with a blanket in a park. It doesn’t have to be a café, of course not.
Once I strolled through a park and I took a small break on a bench and observed my surrounding. I saw a man on a bike, who had one child seated in front of him and the other on the back of the bike, a couple in their forties, freshly in love, a young couple having a dispute in a foreign language, leaning against a tree there was a dark haired young man who looked over to his girlfriend wearing a yellow headscarf with a loving glance while she was typing an sms before she turned to him again, a granny with her grandchildren taking a walk, an English speaking, pregnant woman with her little daughter who was excited and looked around until she made her daddy out in the mass of people and started running towards him, screaming a stretched “Daddy” and he took her up on his strong arms. All this is the basis for stories, or can be. Especially when you consider similarities, differences and common features. Because all I was able to see was love. No matter in which shape, those people looked differently, belonged to different age groups, had different origins and their relation to one another was different, but they had one thing in common: the underlying shared emotional connection.
If that’s not a basis for a story!
And even if you sit down somewhere with someone else and you observe the same things, your perceptions will differ and so will the stories that you write later on.
And this is what makes it so exciting and inspirational.
I can only recommend you try it out, even if you don’t write stories but you chase another creative destination, be it painting or drawing or music or photography, writing short stories, poems, books, tv formats, short films, movies or something else that didn’t cross my mind right now, I think it’s a wonderful method to keep moving and to stay creative.
Be creative. Be yourself.

Kreativ bleiben Tipp #2

This entry is also available in English

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Photo & Editing: Ralph Wietek

Setzt euch in ein Café und beobachtet die Umgebung und die Leute!

Und damit mein ich nicht unbedingt, trefft euch mit Freunden in einem Café, sondern nehmt euch wirklich ein wenig Zeit und geht allein in ein Café, ordert euer Lieblingsgetränk und vielleicht ein Stück Kuchen oder dergleichen und schaut euch um.
Lasst die Umgebung auf euch wirken und schaut euch die Menschen an.
Was eine Freundin und ich früher gemacht haben war Folgendes: Wir haben uns gemeinsam in ein Café gesetzt (da war es Sommer und wir konnten draußen sitzen, aber es funktioniert ebenso gut wenn man drinnen sitzt und nach draußen schauen kann). Die Passanten, die vorbeiliefen inspirierten uns und wenn dann zum Beispiel ein Pärchen vollbepackt mit Tüten und mit missmutigen Gesichtsausdrücken vorbeistapfte, sagte eine von uns “Okay, ich bin der Mann, du nimmst die Frau!” und dann fingen wir an, die Passanten zu synchronisieren. Die hanebüchensten und lustigsten Dialoge sind dabei entstanden, die oftmals so fernab dessen gewesen sein mussten, was diese Leute wirklich besprachen, aber es war ein absolut amüsanter Zeitvertreib. (den ich sogar gelegentlich gern wiederholen würde^^)
Diesem Zeitvertreib liegt vermutlich ein ähnliches Prinzip zugrunde wie dem Improvisationstheater, da man alle Gesichtsausdrücke, Bewegungen und “Plot-Twists” mit einbauen musste, in das, was man da fabrizierte. Aber es funktioniert auch ohne eine zweite Partei, mit der man lustige Konversationen spinnen kann.
Aber sich zu überlegen, was diese Menschen wohl denken, was sie gerade tun, woher sie kommen, wohin sie gehen, kann durchaus die Basis für eine gute Geschichte liefern. Ebenso wie die ganze Stimmung der Umgebung dazu beitragen kann.
Gerade jetzt in der Weihnachtshektik die Leute zu beobachten, während man selbst gemütlich im Café sitzt, kann interessant sein. Sich im Sommer mit einer Decke in den Park setzen ebenfalls. Es muss natürlich nicht zwangsläufig ein Café sein, das versteht sich von selbst.
Ich spazierte mal durch einen Park und machte eine kleine Pause auf einer Bank und schaute mich um. Dort sah ich einen Mann auf seinem Fahrrad, der sowohl hinten als auch vorne einen Sitz samt Kind mit sich spazieren fuhr, ein verliebtes Pärchen in ihren Vierzigern, ein junges Pärchen, das eine Auseinandersetzung hatte in einer fremden Sprache, an einen Baum gelehnt einen jungen dunkelhaarigen Mann, der seine Freundin mit gelbem Kopftuch verliebt anschaute, während sie eine SMS in ihr Handy tippte bevor sie sich ihm wieder zuwandte, eine Oma, die mit ihren Enkeln spazieren ging, eine englischsprachige schwangere Frau, die mit ihrem Töchterchen spazieren ging, das ganz aufgeregt umhersah bis sie ihren Vater in einer auf sie zusteuernden Menschenmasse ausfindig machte und dann Anlauf nahm und mit einem langgezogenen “Daddy” auf ihn zurannte und er es hochnahm. Alles Basis für Geschichten, vor allem wenn man den Fokus auf Ähnlichkeiten, Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten legt, denn alles was ich sehen konnte war nur eins: Liebe. Egal in welcher Form, die Menschen waren unterschiedlichen Aussehens, unterschiedlicher Altersklassen, sprachen unterschiedliche Sprachen, waren unterschiedlicher Herkunft und die Beziehung zwischen ihnen war unterschiedlich, aber eins hatten sie gemeinsam: die zugrundeliegende gemeinsame emotionale Verbindung.
Wenn das mal keinen Boden für eine Geschichte bietet!
Und selbst wenn ihr euch gemeinsam mit jemandem irgendwo hinsetzt und ihr beide das gleiche seht, so werden eure Geschichten, die ihr nachher schreibt trotzdem nicht die gleichen sein.
Und das macht es spannend und aufregend und so enorm inspirativ.
Also kann ich euch nur ans Herz legen, es mal auszuprobieren, selbst wenn ihr keine Geschichten schreibt, sondern ein anderes kreatives Ansinnen verfolgt, sei es nun Malen, Zeichnen, Musik, Fotografie, Schreiben von Kurzgeschichten, Gedichten, Büchern, TV-Formaten, Kurzfilmen, Spielfilmen oder sonst etwas, was mir ad hoc nicht eingefallen ist, ich halte es für eine wunderbare Methode in Bewegung und kreativ zu bleiben.
Sei kreativ. Sei du selbst.

How to stay creative Tipp #3

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar

Keep your workplace tidy!

Sounds logical, is logical.
Sometimes you can have so much chaos in your head, and then it helps to restore the outward order and then dedicate yourself to putting order into the internal chaos.
I also heard people saying that they don’t mind when it’s not tidy, or even that they need the chaos.
And I don’t talk about a sterile place with everything set in a 90 degree angle and everything feels cold and lifeless, but I personally consider a certain amount of tidiness as supporting for creativity.
If it then works out or not is another story.
And it doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative in chaos.
But outward tidiness can help tidy up the inner chaos.

Kreativ bleiben Tipp #3

This entry is also available in English

Haltet Ordnung an eurem Arbeitsplatz!

Klingt logisch, ist auch so.
So viel Chaos, wie man manchmal im Kopf haben kann, ist es fast unerlässlich, außen Ordnung zu halten um sich dann dem inneren Chaos widmen zu können und dieses in Ordnung zu bringen.
Ich habe auch schon von Menschen gehört, es mache ihnen nichts aus, wenn es unordentlich ist, oder die sogar behaupten, sie bräuchten das Chaos.
Und ich rede ja auch nicht von übertriebener Pedanterie und einem Ort, wo alles im 90-Grad-Winkel zueinander steht und es sich steril und leblos anfühlt, aber ich persönlich empfinde ein gewisses Maß an Ordnung als sehr zuträglich für die Kreativität.
Ob es dann auch wirklich klappt, oder nicht, ist eine andere Sache.
Und das heißt natürlich auch nicht, dass man im Chaos nicht kreativ sein kann.
Aber äußere Ordnung kann dabei helfen sich an die innere Ordnung zu begeben.