9 Things I Do Offline For Inspiration
It’s been almost five years since I left a two decade career in veterinary medicine to pursue a more creative lifestyle. While I was passionate about my work for a long time, I realized I was suffering from compassion fatigue, and it was time to practice some serious self care.
Consciously living a creative lifestyle is incredibly fulfilling. It is also maddening. Because the thing about the creative Muse is, she’s a fickle one.
There are some days, weeks, months even, when ideas are pouring out of me so fast I can barely keep up. I’m creating left and right. There are days I write until my hand cramps.
And then my well runs dry and I’ve got nothing for an equally arbitrary and frustrating amount time.
Everyone seems to agree the ebb and flow of creativity is natural, and I’m learning to ride the waves. My writing mentor Molly Caro May often reminds me to trust my own rhythm.
So when I’m feeling bottomed out, as if I’ll never have a decent idea again, I call on some methods I’ve found successful at nourishing me and inspiring me over and over again.
- Move my body: walk, run, hike, shower, lift weights, wade in the pond, ride my bicycle
This is the big one. When I start to feel blocked creatively, the first thing I do is move my body, preferably outside. Sometimes that’s as simple as a walk around the block, or it might be a run followed by a shower. In general I find the more active I am, the more ideas I have, and the more that makes me want to do more things.
This is an obvious one, and so important to a writer.
Coloring is a form of meditation for me. It allows me to zone out while still creating something.
4. Work with flowers and plants
At the beginning of my career transition, I had a part time job in a flower shop. I was surprised to discover how not only arranging flowers, but simply being around them and handling them, was nourishing to my creative self. I learned a lot about plants at that job and use that knowledge regularly to maintain my houseplants and garden.
If my husband comes home to find me frantically vacuuming or mopping, he knows I’m either procrastinating on a deadline or stuck creatively (often both)
6. Peruse thrift stores
This is one of my favorite hobbies. It’s not only fun to come across treasures, I’m super interested in observing what things people choose to discard. There’s a lot of potential there for imagining stories.
7. Talk to people
I’m what’s called a social introvert. I enjoy meeting new people and socializing, just not for long periods of time! I find interacting with most people (particularly the public) to be draining, so I need alone time to recharge, which is why I so greatly value quiet and solitude. The limited energy I do have to expend on others is valuable to me so I don’t use it carelessly. I choose to spend my time with like-minded individuals, people who also value time with me.
8. Listen to music
Along with books, music is one of my first loves. I have Playlists for all sorts of different scenarios in daily life.
This is what I refer to as “creating.” Making something, anything is always a boost to my creative ego. I enjoy giving homemade items as gifts too!
Okay, so maybe you’re thinking “But I’m not a creative type, so this doesn’t pertain to me,” so I’ll remind you of this quote from my beloved guru Liz Gilbert:
Regardless of the level to which you consider yourself creative, I challenge you to try some of these methods the next time you feel “stuck” in any way. I guarantee it will get your energy flowing in the direction it needs to, no matter what you want to do!