I 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 eight methods I often use to conjure creativity:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?