10 Places to Find Inspiration

Does the summer heat have you feeling stuck creatively? I know the feeling. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Here are ten places that you can go to get unstuck and get inspired.

1. Go for a drive or walk

Sometimes the act of moving is enough to get the juices flowing. I don’t want to admit how many times I’ve been driving and had to start dictating a new idea into my phone.

You don’t need a car: just get out and stretch your legs. Stanford released a study in 2014 showing that walking can boost your creativity. Indoors or outdoors, it doesn’t matter. Scientists found that it was the movement that mattered. Just give yourself a few minutes to walk around the block. You might see something new or find a new approach to whatever project you’re working on.

2. Get a jolt at a coffee shop

Hate going outside in the summer? I get it. It’s my duty as a redhead to avoid the sun from May until October.

This is why I love coffee shops. They allow you to get out of the house without the sun burn. For less than five dollars, you can enjoy A/C and some fabulous people watching. Worried about eye contact? You can sit at the bar and just watch the baristas make espresso. Perhaps you could find a new rhythm to work with from conversations around you.

3. Hit the library

Alright, libraries and book stores are my weakness. I could spend hours there, curled up with a pile of books. While a lot of places out and about are loud, libraries especially are quiet sanctuaries to get away from the crowd. If you’re a writer like me this can be especially important. If you can’t hear yourself think, how can you write anything down?

Even if you aren’t into books, libraries can still be a good place for inspiration. Many have music you can borrow. Heck, some of them are just beautiful buildings. That can be inspirational on its own. After all architecture was a big inspiration for JK Rowling’s vision of Hogwarts.

If you’re really stuck, you can do what I did in college: find a sofa in a library and take a nap. A 10 minute nap can zap you awake and boost your creativity.

4. Take a nap

black and white portrait

Alright, your subconscious might not be a place, but it is a creative place. I’d never have imagined Katie Couric giving me a sex-ed talk, until I dreamed about it in high school. More than strange events, real works of art have come out of dreams. These include:

  • ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles
  • Nolan’s movie, ‘Inception’
  • Dalí’s painting, ‘Persistence of Memory’

However, dreaming alone isn’t enough. To ensure it doesn’t slip away, have a notebook or someway of copying down your dream straight away. Paul McCartney, for instance, went straight away to the piano to start playing the tune he’d heard in his head.

5. Watch wild animals at the zoo

The combination of wild animals and people, makes zoos a special place. Personally, I love watching the kids’ reactions. I still remember one group in front of the sea otters. They were so excited watching the animals do tricks underwater. Maybe you’ll be inspired to write a story about a family experience the zoo. Or, you could take an amazing shot of a family walking together.

6. Find a window

No requirement on what it looks out on, just that it looks out onto something. Your window can be out onto a garden or a busy street. My favorite as a kid was a window in our house with a bird feeder. Not just for the birds but also because our cat, Randolph, would stare at that window for hours, frustrated that he couldn’t attack any of the birds.

Looking out a window can even become a game, like Amsterdam did on its trams. Whether it’s a tiny room in your attic or big bay windows, staying still can help you notice things that you might have passed by. This can include photos, ambient sounds, and so much more.

7. Unplug and get into nature

too stunning for words

Some people love the mountains; some people will choose the beach. Either way, spending some time outside can help your inspiration. Scientists have found that spending time in nature actually changes the way your brain works. It restores your attention and allows you to solve problems more creatively. It may even give you a more open mindset.

If you live in the USA, there are hundreds of National Parks you can go to, many with low entrance fees. You don’t have to go far to get out and find nature.

8. Find an open mic night

While as entertainment these can be a hit or miss they can inspire you with do’s or don’ts. Haven’t heard of open mic nights? Creatives of all kinds show up to perform. Performances can include music, poetry, dance, or comedy. Sometimes being around other creative people can help inspire you to do more work. It can also help you see what kind of work you want to do, and the work you’d like to skip.

Open Mics are also a great chance to meet people you might want to work with. Sure, a lot of the time we think of great creative people going alone, but it doesn’t have to be.

9. Stare at the stars

One very talented writer, Jonathan Stutzman, loves stargazing late at night. Sometimes he tries to find constellations, but it can also just be a few minutes spent looking up. I can understand why. The stars always remind me how huge our universe is. I’m awed that light thousands of years old finds its way to our little dot in the universe

That awe, it turns out, can boost creativity. Expansive thinking, or thinking about distant places or people, can be a catalyst for creative thought. It allows you the possibility of going beyond your own perspective. Especially if you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut creatively, this can really help you at least thing about things differently.

10. Take a shower or a bath

Sounds strange but people have found that taking some time to get clean can lead to major breakthroughs. Archimedes, a famous ancient Greek mathematician, is said to have made his major discovery there. I hope it’s true, mostly because he was supposed to have run through the streets naked yelling ‘Eureka! Eureka!’

Whether you believe the legend or not, there’s some science to bathroom discoveries. Basically taking a shower or bath provides a perfect combo for creativity. Dopamine is released as you enjoy the hot water. It also provides a distraction, hopefully stopping fixations blocking you from a solution. Finally, you’re relaxed. This makes a shower great for new ideas, as long as you can hold onto them long enough to dry off and get out.

Depending on what kind of creative work you do, some of these places may not fit. Even in the same field people can have wildly different processes. Hopefully, one of these places can help you get out of a rut and find new inspiration.

Is there another place you find inspiration? Please share in a comment below!

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