In previous columns I’ve written about the importance of having creative stimuli in your environment, both at work and at home. It helps to create a receptive environment that gives you the security you need to feel safe about opening up to your creative spirit. But visual and aural stimuli can also be absolutely critical in times of crisis. Those times when you feel overwhelmed and under equipped, when you draw a complete blank, when your creative well seems like it’s completely dry. Whether it’s writer’s block , a looming web design deadline, or a class you’re teaching that you just want to change up from the same-old, same-old, finding the stimuli that inspires you can be the catalyst to a creative energy surge.
Music can soothe the savage beast, including the beasties that are blocking your creative flow. Buy some new CDs and play them in your car, in your office, in your portable device while you’re on the treadmill. I’m particularly fond of New Age type music, like the Pure Moods series, because it’s designed to be evocative of emotion. Movie soundtracks are good, too, as they were also designed to bring out emotions in the viewing audience.
Live music is another option. Most towns have choirs and orchestras that perform regularly, and local schools usually have at least one public performance a semester from their music departments. If you are lucky enough to live close to a college or university, you can find many opportunities to hear various ensembles perform, often for free.
Prefer the sound of words, words, words? Then look for poetry readings at your local bookstore and plays at your schools and community theatres.
We usually think of art galleries and museums when we think of visual stimuli. But what about a walk through the park, arboretum, or botanical garden? Even stores for furniture, antiques, and crafts can give you a refreshing look at colors and designs.
I’m a big fan of magazines when it comes to looking for creative inspiration. Sure, any magazine with advertisements can give you lots of images to mull over, but I’m particularly fond of travel and design magazines. Architecture and interior design magazines are full of interesting takes on color palettes and use of space, while travel magazines can be evocative of mood and moment. I even keep a file folder of my favorite images from magazines so that I can revisit those visuals any time I want.
And while most of us already feel over stimulated from looking at a computer all day, whenever I am preparing to design a new website, I have a couple of sites that I like to visit to get fresh ideas. Cool Homepages spotlights websites that are the best examples of various genres of web design. Browse through categories like “Retro” and “Very Clean” to get new ideas for your website. Another useful resource is Open Source Web Design which has dozens and dozens of web design samples that are not only stimulating to look through but can also be downloaded freely for your use.
Figure out what inspires you most, pick your favorite medium(s), and immerse yourself in creative stimuli. You’ll find yourself refreshed and ready to take on your next project with new ideas and renewed energy.