Whether you’re someone who does creative work for a living or would like to tap into your artistic side more often, you’re probably no stranger to the challenges of finding daily inspiration.
Between juggling work and personal obligations, or navigating the monotony of our everyday lives, the well of inspiration can feel like it’s been tapped out dry. How are we expected to find inspiration when we see the same sights, and have the same experiences, day in and day out?
Luckily, you don’t have to travel around the world and soak up new experiences in order to find inspiration. In fact, inspiration, like any other muscle, is something that can be worked on and developed.
So if you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut or you’re wondering how to find daily inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Below are creativity exercises and tips to help you see the world with a fresh, new lens and find inspiration in everyday moments.
Find daily inspiration with the Morning Pages
Inspiration is rarely something that hits you like a lightning bolt. Rather, inspiration is more like a muscle that you have to workout regularly in order to tap into. And this is the philosophy behind Julia Cameron’s seminal book The Artist’s Way.
Part workbook and part creativity self-help tome, The Artist’s Way offers several creativity exercises to help you uncover inspiration. One of the book’s most popular tools is a journal-writing exercise called the Morning Pages.
According to Cameron, the Morning Pages should be done first thing in the morning, when we’re still in that hazy, dream-like state, and the self-editing, logical side of our brain is too tired to criticize or censor us.
Cameron advises that we write in stream-of-consciousness for 3 pages. Why 3 pages? Cameron says that writing the first page is usually straightforward and easy, but it’s when we get to the second or third page that we start to struggle—what do we even write about? It’s in this moment, when we’re convinced that we have nothing left to say, that we can break open, and discover something about ourselves.
The great thing about the Morning Pages is that there is a specific structure: you do three pages every morning, no more and no less. This built-in structure of the Morning Pages actually frees you up to be more creative and open.
Some people like to use the Morning Pages as a brain dump, a way to write about their bad days or air out any grievances. Although you might worry that you’re complaining or being too petty, this release on the page can actually be quite liberating for your inspiration. When you’re no longer holding onto thoughts or emotions that are weighing you down, you can open yourself up to a creative spark.
Devotees of the Morning Pages love how the exercise can give you gentle nudges in the right direction. In your pages, you might find yourself writing about your favorite Italian films or Italian cuisine, and then through the course of doing the pages, you realize that maybe you want to take an Italian class. This small spark has the potential to be a turning point in your life.
Because the Morning Pages encourages you to write whatever comes up for you, without restraint or worries of being criticized, it allows for self-discovery and “a-ha” moments. This exercise can help you get to the root of what you’re feeling and tap into what you really want.
How to do it: As for tools, all you’ll need is a journal and pen. Try to wake up 20 minutes earlier so that you have enough time in the morning to write your full Morning Pages. Cameron advises that the Morning Pages be for you and your eyes only. Don’t judge yourself during this process, and don’t disregard even the pettiest of entries. If you notice yourself grumbling about how you don’t have any socks, your mind is trying to tell you to indulge in this simple luxury for yourself and make your life easier.
Take a mindful walk to find inspiration
When you walk down the neighborhood, are you truly noticing what’s around you?
How often have we walked around the same block or the same neighborhood, without looking up or noticing the buildings and people around us? A mindful walking exercise can help us find daily inspiration right outside our door.
Why is mindful walking good for inspiration? It helps you focus on the present moment, which then opens you up to finding inspiration in the sights, sounds, and people along your walk.
How to do it: Set aside some time in your day to take a leisurely walk in a park or around your neighborhood. You can also download our free Ink+Volt Gratitude Stroll Worksheet to help guide you during the mindful walk.
Later, when you return home, take out your journal and record any interesting observations or insights you experienced during your walk.
Tap into inspiration with a "Noticed List"
Illustrator Mari Andrews maintains a regular journaling practice, and she often talks about the powers of introspective writing and its ability to help you heal, articulate your emotions, and reveal your true desires.
I enjoyed doing an exercise that she calls a “Noticed List,” which is similar to a gratitude list but more comprehensive. In other words, you’re not just editing your list to include only the positive, feel-good moments of your day, but taking note of all the low points and not-so-good moments too. This is a good exercise to help you lean into and embrace what you’re noticing and feeling. Rather than shoving down our feelings, we’re acknowledging them, and counterintuitively, it is the process of recognizing these moments that might help you release them and move forward.
How does a Noticed List help you find inspiration? By becoming more observant of your inner and outer world, you give yourself the opportunity to stumble onto new ideas and thoughts. So often, when we’re feeling down or even just “blah,” it can be hard to put a finger on what exactly we’re feeling. But an exercise like the Noticed List can encourage you to examine yourself, rather than letting feelings drift by. And the more we notice—the low points and the high—the better chance we have at noticing other things, including inspiration.How to do it: All you need is your favorite notebook or a notepad. You can write a Noticed List as part of your evening routine and use the opportunity to reflect back on your day.