What Inspires Creativity? – 8 Methods to Summon Your Muse

WaterfallI love to chat with readers, writers, and entrepreneurs, and am often asked where authors get their creative ideas. Aside from the usual place (in the bathtub surrounded by bubbles), I began to think: What inspires creativity? And, how can we conjure more creativity?

Consider the world of reading. We’ve all read thrillers that grabbed us by the throat, or romances that stole our hearts. The keep-you-up-all-night books that you can’t get out of your mind. Every one of these stories began with the seed of an idea.

Writers, entrepreneurs, and other creative types have their own methods of nurturing creativity. Mine always begin with a question: “What if….”

So, I thought I’d share a little about how I channel my creative muse. Here are are eight methods I often use to conjure creativity:

  1. Unplugging – If my mind is too cluttered, there’s no room for creative thinking. Unplug from social media, get up from the computer, go for a walk, send calls to voice mail. I enjoy a long walk to delve into ideas, but even a short stroll can clear the mind.
  2. Communing with Nature – When I’m really stumped, I turn to Mother Nature by taking a walk, listening to birds, or watching the rhythm of the ocean. Gardening is another passion; ideas often rise to the surface when I’m elbow deep in dirt or pruning roses. The warmth of the sun and the aromas from flowers and plants often leads to inspiration, too.
  3. A World of Reading – Reading across a variety of genres stimulates the imagination. News topics might also provide a starting point. In fact, part of the early inspiration for my novel, Scent of Triumph, came from a newspaper story I’d read about families who were separated during World War II.
  4. Art Appreciation – Recharge creative batteries by seeking out other forms of artistic expression. For instance, I love to wander through art galleries, and always feel creatively energized afterward.
  5. Get Physical – Physical exercise is excellent for clearing out mental cobwebs. Be sure to do what’s fun. For me, it might be swimming or dancing, biking or snow skiing, or practicing pilates or yoga. Mixing up muscle movement keeps exercise fresh, and improves mental clarity.
  6. Nocturnal Thoughts – Inspiration often treads on silent feet in the dark of night. I keep a notepad on my nightstand, and often scribble thoughts that lead to breakthroughs. Or, early in the morning, in that quiet space between sleep and wakefulness when the mind finds dreaming natural, I’ll turn my thoughts to my story line or other issue.
  7. Tiny Bubbles – A long soak in a warm tub is a must for my creative muse. Add music, candles, wine—whatever strikes your fancy. Personally, I’m hooked on bubbles—the more the merrier. Bubbles, like snow, muffle the outside world, giving creativity space to grow. Sore muscles? Pour on the bath salts.
  8. Set the Scene – Create an environment conducive to creativity. Pots of tea, instrumental music, pleasing aromas—these are the basic necessities for my writing or creative development sessions.

When writing Scent of Triumph, I tried to recreate the period of time covered the book, which is 1939 to 1947. I have a professional background in the fragrance business, so I immersed myself in vintage perfume history, surrounding myself with fragrances that were available during the time period—all from my personal collection. From Shalimar to Mitsouko, Joy to Chanel No. 5, Normandie to Narcisse Noir, these perfumes reflect the artistry of the period, and helped me conjure the mood.

Other period research included wartime history, video and audio recordings, fashion, music, and female entrepreneurs. I spoke to people who had lived through the time period. My mother shared memories of daily details of life, such as rationing. Not every fact made it into the book, of course, but the immersion provided inspiration, helping to create an authentic world.

These techniques aren’t restricted to writers–anyone can use these methods to call the muse and enhance creativity.

What inspires you? What do you do to engage your creativity?

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21 thoughts on “What Inspires Creativity? – 8 Methods to Summon Your Muse

  1. My creativity is inspired by the past, which is why my last three books have been set in the 1930s and 1940s. They aren’t historical fiction. I just find that time period to be fascinating, and it is much easier to write about suspense and build suspense when nobody has a cell phone.

  2. Great advice and inspiration!! My creative time tends to be in my moments of silence after an adventure filled day. 🙂 Many times those “moments” are in the middle of the night! 😉

  3. Your list is what I would summarize as those experiences that have a high potential for making us present, and you’re right, those work wonderfully. My only addition would be under reading in that I find, poetry, in particular, a great tool for getting me out of my head and into the moment due to its imagery coupled with feeling. The scent industry – what a fascinating world to imagine.

  4. I always love to hear what inspires other, sometimes it overlaps and sometimes my eyes are opened to thoughts I’ve never thought before. I’m inspired by the blending of words into poetry and pose, the sound of children laughing on a warm summer night, the smell of coffee each morning as I wake, the stories of others who can gone from rags to riches and the joy that comes with sharing art, creativity, thoughts and dreams with others.

  5. Really enjoyed reading this post. Meditation (even just for ten minutes), can also provide a great way to re-charge and disconnect from endless rambling thoughts!

  6. This is one of the best articles Ive read on this subject!

    What comes to light in this article is so important and I think under-taught. The ability to create new connections between different sensory experiences is what takes us into that creative zone.

    The smell of a particular food, or a loved one… The feel of the desert heat- or the ocean breeze on your face…the sound of children laughing, or a woman weeping… Artists all get so wrapped up in our craft that we forget the point and cut ourselves off from the full dimension of experience available to us.

    The great saxophonist Stan Getz once said that the only way to become a better musician is to become a better person. I think this holds true for every type of artist, entrepreneur and creator! If we are connected with the pulse of the world- with all it’s joy and sadness- inspiration is the default!

  7. Loved this post, and I feel refreshed and inspired just reviewing these creativity tips. It was particularly helpful at this point, as it’s too hot here and I’m bogged down in quotidian household tasks. You provided easy ways to go on an emotional mini-vacation. Thank you!

  8. I once took a university creative writing course during which the prof experimented with music as the students’ muse. It was unscientific but it did seem to result in various genres of writing corresponded to similar genres of music.

  9. Interesting and inspiring article! Yes, inspiration can come through variety of sources. Everyone has his favourite. Regarding the art appreciation, I would recommend “The artist within” by Whitney Ferre. There are many art exercises in this book that will help you awaken your creative side.

  10. Some lovely ideas on finding inspiration. Being in nature is so rewarding and grounding. Good point about an uncluttered mind too; I get my best ideas while I’m in meditation. (Always a challenge not to leap up and start writing then!)

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