*This article is part of a series called ‘Stoke the Fire’, which explore the creative process and attempt to understand how and why we are driven to create. I would love to hear your opinions on creativity and ideas for future posts.*
101 Ways to Spark Inspiration
Engage your least appreciated sense – SMELL!
51. Burn pure essential oils. Really remember what true rose smells like, or pure jasmine, or lavender. Do these scents trigger any memories for you?
52. Bake! Especially bread, which fills your home with a scent of golden sunshine, I think.
53. Cut your grass just so you can lie on it afterwards and smell the scent of summer…even if it happens to be Winter, like in Ireland right now :)
54. Spray his aftershave in the air. Mist your pillow with her perfume.
55. Take a moment before you eat this evening. Pause and really smell the food in front of you. Feel your brain register just how good it is, your mouth water, your tummy impatient for delivery…
56. Find your favourite smell. Sweeten your world with it.
Engage your most over-worked sense – SIGHT!
57. Really take in your view today. Is it breath-taking? I’m lucky to live somewhere that has really earned its title of ‘Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Is it awful?! Even if it’s awful, are there any redeeming qualities about it?
58. Create total darkness when you sleep tonight. Sleep in a black-out zone. See how your eyes feel the next morning.
59. Lie down outside and feel the heat of the sun glow through your eyelids into your head.
60. Give your eyes a treat! Turn off the screen and read a real live book!
61. A commute is a pain-in-the-arse, but to lose yourself staring out the window on a bus or train is blissful, restful and perfect day-dreaming territory.
Engage your most abused sense – HEARING!
(as a musician, this one is particularly personal to me…is there one sense that is intrinsically linked to your creativity and are you looking after it right?!)
62. Listen to only one thing at a time. Drink it in.
63. Create five minutes in your life of pure, unadulterated, sweet-centred silence. This can include internal noise as well. Quieten your ‘chattering monkey’ brain and feel how silence is not only from the outside-in, but from the inside-out.
64. Pledge not to interrupt anyone mid-sentence for an entire day. Really listen to them, hear them out! You can always pause when they’re finished talking to construct your reply. See how much more you take in.
65. Analyse the music and lyrics you are taking in everyday. Check that what you are listening to is in line with what you think, how you want to feel. Whether you like it or not, you absorb it all, even while absent-mindedly having it on in the background.
66. Surround your self with the sounds that inspire you. Laughter! Is there laughter in your home?? Or sharp words and resentful tones?
67. Sing in the shower. Sing in the car. My sister hums while she’s working. It is head-wrecking for those around her, but it makes her happy and helps her concentrate :)
68. Chill-ax!! One of the main causes of hearing loss in the Western world is STRESS! That’s right, being a stress-head actually causes your hearing to decline. In parts of the Amazon jungle where tribes have lived untouched by the modern world researchers found that the elder members had virtually no hearing loss, due to the complete lack of stress in their lives! And without your hearing you are missing out on inspiration you don’t even consciously know you’re taking in…
69. Sit and listen. Close your eyes and just take in where you are right now. Where I am right now I hear the gentle hiss of the radiator, the whirr of the laptop’s fan, bird’s are twittering, some traffic has just hummed by, a leaf from my plant has crackled and fallen…
Engage your most intimate sense – TOUCH!
70. Do like ‘Amelie’ did. Dive your hand into that bag of grain, puddle of mud, basket of yarn. In my childhood home we have a giant sack of rice (Da’s Persian + 6 in the family = we eat lots of rice!). When my Ma would send me to get some I would stick my hand in and wiggle my fingers until I got to the bottom of the sack, literally to my shoulder. The feeling of pulling my arm out reminded me of how the tide pulls the sand from between your toes as it retreats.
71. Do you touch yourself? Er, not that way (unless you want to, that’s cool) but do you rub your feet, massage your hands, find the knots in your shoulders or relax your scalp? We hold so much in our bodies that untangling that knot might untangle your inspiration…
72. Hug someone and be hugged. It makes you happy, it makes you healthy and we live in a silly world that makes it awkward sometimes. Don’t bother with the awkward…have a hug.
73. Explore your surroundings. Hard couch? Fluffy pillow? Cold floor? Are these the surroundings you want for you body. Make adjustments as you see fit.
74. Earlier I said bake bread for the smell of it. Well also bake bread so you can plunge your hands into cool, yeasty dough and knock all the air out of it after it has risen. Feel it squidge between your fingers.
Engage your most primal sense – TASTE!
75. Fast for a day. Fasting clears out your digestive system, resets your taste-buds, brightens your skin, releases energy, that would otherwise be used in digestion, to make repairs and generally spring-clean your insides. That released energy courses through you, inspires you, rejuvenates you! (There are many different kinds of fasting from juice fast or all raw food to all out ‘eat nothing between sunrise & sunset’ fasts. Pick one that suits you, please be sensible, consult a doctor if you’ve never done it before but try this incredible gift. Being hungry for a little while is nothing to be afraid of. We’re the lucky ones, we know where out next meal will come from.)
76. Explore your food. Do you wolf your dinner down? Take a moment. Taste one thing at a time. Savour it. Remember why you like it.
77. When was the last time you tried a food you hate?? Long time ago wasn’t it. Are you sure you still hate it? Try it again, maybe you’ll love it, and if you don’t, remember why you hate it. Wallow in its disguisting-ness for a moment, really remember it. Experience makes Art real!
78. Find a recipe for that dish you adore but only ever get in restaurants or at your Ma’s house. Learn it and make it for yourself.
79. The most intimate thing we can do with our mouths is kiss someone; on the mouth, on the cheek, on the forehead, in their hair, on their hand. It is technically touching but I also feel it’s tasting someone. How does the person you love (your child, your lover, your parent, your friend) taste to you?
80. Eat fresh bread! (Well you’ve probably made some if you followed #52 and #74)
81. What does water taste of? Nothing?! Not a chance!
82. Can you taste the words as they come out of your mouth? They pass your tastebuds after all…are they joyous, juicy words? Or are they bitter, salty, acidic words?
83. Volunteer your time. Let someone else manage you for a day. See where it takes you.
84. Take control of your time. Only do what you want to do. Really ask yourself what you want to do, what you want out of the next hour. Shake off any restrictions, any judgements you have about what you *should* be doing, and do what you want to!
85. Step out of your comfort zone. Nothing is more jolting, awakening and perspective-shifting than doing something you really don’t want to do!
86. Write it on a piece of paper, put it under your pillow. Sleep on it…literally!
87. Contemplate and genuinely appreciate something someone else has done, said, made, been a part of. Tell them so.
88. Pass out compliments like cookies today. Look for the compliment-able in everyone!
89. Do something for someone else. Forget about yourself for a moment. It’s very freeing…
90. Look to your past. Talk to your Mother/Grandparents/Old family friends. Find out the things you always wondered about you heritage. How did you great-grandparents meet? Why are you Persian and living in Ireland? Where does my crazy creative tendency come from?
91. Look to your future. Get a great big piece of pattern. Grab some crayons. Draw yourself a map to your future. Colour in the yellow brick road. Fantisize about where you’re going.
92. Look to your present. What are the 3 coolest things about where you are right now? Answer fast. Don’t think about it. The uncool is very cool!
93. I read somewhere that you are basically a reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So what do the 5 people you spend your time with reflect about you? All good? Anything you want to change?
98. Talk it out with someone you love.
99. Shake yourself, like you did as a child. Shake it all out.
100. Smash something. Watch it shatter. Now transform it on your mind’s eye. Broken to fixed. Old to new. Death to birth. Inspiration to creation!
101. If your inspiration has really gone into hiding then maybe just leave it. In this modern world of sensory overload maybe what you need most of all is a hibernation. All the inspiration is already there in you, stored up from years of just ‘being’ in this Universe. It just needs time to ferment, take form, blossom. And while it’s doing that sure you might as well have a nice wee nap :)
~ What do you do when you feel your inspiration has deserted you?