1. Attend a live performance. Plays, comedy sketches, performance art, poetry readings, concerts…watching an artist in any medium will inspire you as you experience their commitment to craft, courage and willingness to be creative in front of an audience. Museums aren’t exactly a live performance, but you’ll see tons of creativity on display. Go and soak it all in.
2. Walk. It’s the best way to clear your head. Bring your creative tools (notebook, sketch pad, etc.) and stop every now and again to draw whatever takes your attention or write down your thoughts and ideas. Often, I go for a walk when I’m in the middle of a tough creative conundrum. The problem is still there, simmering, but my attention is focused on the act of moving and the world around me. I can’t tell you how many times the solution has presented itself when I’ve simply walked away from the problem for a moment.
3. Be a kid again. Play hopscotch or tag. Skip rope. Play volleyball. Dance in your basement and sing into your hairbrush. When my kids were feeling squirrely and we were trapped inside by a typical Midwestern winter, I played polka music and we would polka around the house. I am not a professional polka dancer by any means, but it was silly and fun and got the sludge out of all of our brains.
4. Immerse yourself in someone else’s job. I’ve pulled all-nighters in a snow plow truck and helped install electrical outlets as a side job. I’ve demonstrated perfume and had my butt grabbed by some freak who took a liking to my white toga costume. You never know what kind of crazy characters and story ideas you’ll get by trying on a new job for size, even if it’s only for an hour.
5. Go skinny dipping. You heard me. Just make sure no one brings a camera and make sure you’re not somewhere you won’t get into trouble (wink-nudge). It’s liberating to get back to nature and inspiration to put yourself out there. Literally. 🙂
6. Change your color palette. If you always wear black, add a splash of color. If your house is filled with neutrals, get a red throw pillow. Always been a blonde? Think brunette or redhead or maybe even highlights. If you get the same haircut every time and always but 5 shirts in the same style just in different colors, it’s time for a change.
7. Explore. Visit a neighboring town. Take a new way to work. Go hang out at the little dive bar or diner in town that you always drive by but never stop in to visit. Open your eyes and your mind to the new sights around you.
8. Try a new medium. I’ve dabbled in pottery, photography, video, you name it. It’s like cross-pollination for your creativity. You never know what you’re going to bring back and infuse into your creative work of choice.
9. Read. If you always read science fiction, pick up a romance novel. If the only thing you read is the newspaper, try reading blogs. Poetry, essays, short stories–many times reading the creative work of others can inspire your brain to start moving in the right direction: toward your own creative work.
10. Dream on it. Scientists, researchers and creative professionals understand that the brain doesn’t stop working while you sleep. Reflect on your creative project right before bed, then sweet dreams. You just might wake up with a solution or new idea.
11. Purge your closets. One of the easiest ways to make space in your brain for more creative work is to purge your office, closets, home of clutter, distractions, clothes that no longer fit, old toys, etc. Often the mere act of creating more space in your home or office unleashes creative ideas. The best thing to do is to focus on your creative work before you begin the clearing out process. Then let your mind simmer in the background as you clean and organize.
12. Volunteer. Doesn’t matter where–just pick a group or organization that you are interested in or want to know more about. I always end up meeting interesting people with fascinating stories. Drama and story begin when new paths cross. Go find new paths!
13. Watch really bad reality TV. There’s one part of me that thinks reality TV is contributing to the decline of our society. But there’s another part that just can’t look away from real people behaving badly–even if some or most of the antics are scripted. If you’re looking for the serious fault lines in society or for a protagonist people just love to hate, look no further than shows like BRAVO’s “Housewives of New York” or VH1’s “You’re Cut Off.”
How about you? What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?