Finding inspiration: How to deal with a dry spell of ideas

We all get it.

Sometimes your mind is a fertile valley of fresh budding ideas, ready to grow and be harvested, with perhaps even too many of the choicest fruits to select.

And other times you’re staring at a blank page in your bedroom for the last six months, the whiteness reflecting the frozen Arctic tundra wilderness of a brain bereft of creativity. And your kids/partner/parents driving you to despair at the same time.

We all find our inspiration in different places, but if you’re feeling like all your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went, you can always rely on one or more of some trusted favorite exercises to get your juices going.

That said, we’re not all new age Portlandians who can take time out of our busy wellness guru lifestyle to realign our chakras with artisanal soil yogurt…


Everyone recommends allowing yourself some time and mental space to think your own thoughts. But really? Are you kidding me? With a toddler in the house? Five entire minutes? It’s impossible.


We all want to get away from our phone and TV and kids/boss (especially if they’re the same person), and allow our minds to wander. It’s extraordinarily difficult to ever truly empty your mind, and something interesting often pops up just when you’re trying your best not to think of anything at all. And no-one (at least no-one writing this blog) is going to judge you if you end up hiding in the bathroom with a bottle of cooking sherry.

Find your space.


Let the music move you to inspiration, stirring old memories and new interpretations as you wonder…

how is Baby Shark STILL A THING?!


Sometimes you have to submit to another round of Let It Go and other Disney favorites. Oh well. Hakuna Matata, or something.

But if you do ever manage to get some adult time, something I thought was really cool was Beck’s new collaboration with NASA which creates dream-like imagery by training AI on data collected by various space missions and observations.

Plug your headphones into your phone and go hide in the cupboard under the stairs. Bring wine. 🍷…🍷🍷…

Get moving

A walk in nature rarely fails to inspire. And when you’re dragging a sloooow moving child in one hand and a scooter she refuses to get on in the other, it makes for an inspiring hour of your day. Don’t you agree???

Remember to preload your baby backpack with a pre-mixed beverage of your choosing.


And for those of us facing renewed lockdowns, why not get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing with a virtual nightclub? Eschaton runs every Saturday night; don’t let the doomsday name put you off, this surreal retrofuturistic disco is as close as you’re going to get to the immersive theatre in your living room, and it’s certainly enough to blow a few of the dusty cobwebs out of your ears.


Challenge yourself each day to think of ten things to create or do. Don’t actually do them, of course, no-one has time for that. And remember, living on a secluded island isn’t a real option. Write all the ideas down in a notebook. There’s a good chance that at least eight of every ten ideas will be terrible, but the point is to get your mind in the gear which has ideas in the first place. And by each weekend, you’ll probably have at least a couple of decent ideas for the following week…

Exercise the brain

Or don’t. Life is hard.


It’s ok to shut down for a while and take some time to recharge under a duvet. Try eating some of your kid’s chocolate. But if you fancy it, here’s a bit of wordplay for you. Take a compound word, like baseball or grasshopper, and change one of the words – acidball or concretehopper, for example. See if you can come up with an image or a few paragraphs of writing about that thing. Make some abstract connections and see what pops up. You can do the same thing with your home bar of course. What happens when you change up your regular gin and tonic? Gin and juice? Gin and champagne? Gin and another gin? It’s all an exercise in abstract thinking, and hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere.


Your kids have got loads of stuff they don’t need. Let the tv do some parenting for a change, and raid their toy boxes. Get some Lego and spend five minutes having fun. What’s the best rocket ship/house/robot/cake/art you can make in five minutes? You’re literally making new connections while you’re doing this, it breaks up a monotonous day, and afterward, you’ve also got a racing car/plane/dinosaur/moose/Bob Ross thing.


There are, of course, hundreds of creativity exercises listed online designed to help you spark fresh drinking, sorry, thinking.

Share your favorites by tweeting me @taratw or joining our Master Visual Storytellers community on Facebook.

Please seek inspiration responsibly.


Tags: creativity

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