The Creative Process: 5 Ways to Cultivate Inspiration & Ideas

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I had a conversation with a friend recently about the creative process and how people seem to just "come up" with amazing ideas in the spur of the moment. For those who depend on their creativity for a living, and even those who struggle to fill a blank wall at home, here is a little secret...

If you want moments of inspiration, you have to cultivate them. Learn all you can about color and pattern and light, look intently at the things that inspire you until you start to draw connections, and hold on to the feelings those things create. If you take time, really take time, to cultivate inspiration on a regular basis you will create an environment for your own creativity to grow and will be more likely to recognize a good idea when it strikes.

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Here are five ways to get started:

1. Step outside your comfort zone. Trying something new or, even better yet, something that makes you a little nervous. This is a great way to step outside of your usual frame of mind and find a new perspective. For example, if you never set foot outside the city, a hike in the woods might be just what you need.

2. Visit something familiar with a new perspective. Finding a new way to approach the familiar is a great driving factor in the creative process. If you normally take a walk in the morning, try visiting that same place in the evening; it's amazing how different things can look in another light.

3. Find inspiration in the everyday. Being mindful of everyday objects and moments that surround us is a great way to find inspiration, from a casual conversation (like the one that sparked this post) to the things that make your neighborhood unique.

4. Look to other fields. When I'm putting together a trend forecast for the site the first place I usually look is to fashion, as trends tend to have their origins there. Art by its very nature is also always a great place to look for inspiration.

5. Change the format. If you're constantly surfing the internet for inspiration, try picking up a book or magazine instead. Instead of clicking around without really looking, or getting distracted by something else, these formats encourage us to linger a bit longer and really consider what is in front of us.

What strategies do you use to be creative?

(Image credits: Marcia Prentice; Kim Lucian)