Though I enjoy writing Odyssey articles every week, sometimes I just cannot figure out what to write about. Some days I feel like I have completely run out of article ideas, and other times I spend ten minutes straight just writing down ideas that all come to me in a stream of consciousness. Though it can feel like you're running on empty when you're trying desperately to be creative and coming up empty, there are a few tricks you can try to jolt yourself into some inspiration.
1. Go outside and walk around for a few minutes
I often find that nothing inspires me quite like the outdoors. A bright blue sky, a brightly colored flower, or simply a warm breeze is sometimes all I need to take a deep breath and think of an idea for an article, an argument for an upcoming essay, or perhaps a creative execution idea for my advertising class. Nature has a way of unlocking some creative doors that the depressing confines of a library late at night just can't unlock.
2. Listen to your favorite song, or several songs by your favorite band
Music is one of those universal creative languages that everyone has at least some type of relationship with. It can excite, relax, and comfort us in our times of need. Music can also serve as a wonderful catalyst for coming up with creative ideas, and I find that listening to songs I think are particular works of creative genius is just what I need to get out of a creative rut.
3. Think of possible meal combinations for the items currently in your fridge
Even if I'm making a pretty normal pasta dish, I often feel at my most creative when I'm making dinner without a recipe and just based on what I have lying around in my kitchen. Cooking, like drawing or writing, is a form of creative expression for many people, and since I was not blessed with good drawing skills as a child, I find myself turning more to writing and cooking when I'm feeling particularly ambitious.
4. Watch a reality TV show where the challenges are all about being creative
Some of my favorite shows, like Project Runway and Top Chef, center on the contestants coming up with new and innovative ways to express themselves in various mediums, such as food and fashion. I am always amazed when contestants can come up with incredibly intricate dresses in a few hours or throw together a beautiful dish in 30 minutes. Shows like this help motivate me to approach my clothing and food choices with more creativity, and I try to translate those creative approaches into the rest of my life.
5. Survey your closet and think of new ways to combine your clothes into outfits you've never worn before
Whenever I'm feeling creatively uninspired, I like to take a look at my wardrobe and come up with some new combinations of my favorite articles of clothing. Whether it's using my favorite plaid shirt as a "sweater" to wear with my favorite band t shirt, or pairing a patterned scarf with a shirt I've never worn it with, this can help get my creative juices flowing. Not to mention, it reminds me of clothes that I "like but haven't worn in months and probably need to get rid of."
6. Make a photo album of your favorite photos from your iPhone camera roll
Sometimes I go into my iPhone photos intending to delete a few of them, and end up scrolling through practically my entire 1000+ photos just to relive some nostalgic moments. If you're trying to think of creative ideas, reminding yourself of some favorite memories with friends and family could help provide the spark you need to start generating ideas inspired by your personal life.
7. Watch a documentary about someone known for being creative
Whenever I'm feeling like I have officially run out of good ideas, I scroll through Netflix and find a movie about a well-known creative person. Recently I've been watching a documentary series about the members of Monty Python, and I am fascinated by how effortlessly they seemed to come up with funny sketches and comedic bits for years. It's creative geniuses like Monty Python that inspire me to stop whatever I'm doing and try to create something artistic.
8. Start making lists of your favorite things in different categories
If I'm having trouble thinking of an idea for an article, making lists of favorite movies, foods, slow songs, places to go on the weekend, and the like can help inspire me for a future piece. Many of my articles end up becoming "listicles" anyway, and since making lists is already something I love to do, I may as well get a jumpstart on several different lists in my spare time.
9. Try to teach yourself a new song on the piano or the guitar
Though my piano skills are, at best, minimal, I rarely feel more creative than when I'm sitting at a piano, my favorite tutorial YouTube channel pulled up, patiently trying to teach myself how to play my favorite Elton John song. It's not so much the feeling that I am now an expert just because I can play the intro of "Tiny Dancer" without messing up more than once, but it's the idea that I have now created a new skill for myself that wasn't there before. That is what inspires me most about learning how to play a new song. The real challenge, though, is remembering how to play the song the next day.
10. Have an extended conversation with your family or an old friend
Many of the best creative ideas seem to manifest themselves in stories inspired by real life, and there's no better way to get ideas for stories than to chat with your mom for an hour and hear about literally everything that's been going on at home without you. Long, in-depth conversations with loved ones can remind you about amusing anecdotes you'd nearly forgotten, which can be some of the best nuggets of inspiration for scripts, articles, or creative writing pieces.
Whether I have an article due that day or not, I find it helpful to keep a running list on my phone of creative ideas and add to the list whenever I think of one. Creativity can strike at unexpected times, and it comes to people in different ways, but continually fueling my creative thinking is one of my favorite ways to live a fulfilling, satisfying life.