What to Do (and Not to Do) When Creativity Strikes

When creativity strikes or inspiration hits, please take advantage of it. Don’t let the moment slip by or you could lose your idea forever. Trust me, it happens. More often than you might imagine. You think you'll remember it later. You probably won't. Creative thoughts can be fleeting. 

Always do something to capture your ideas and thoughts as soon as they come to you, no matter how frivolous they may seem in the moment. You can weed out any iffy ones later. But at the moment they strike, jot them down in a journal or small notebook. Even a scrap of paper will do if that's all that you've got handy. I keep small notebooks in my handbag and nightstand drawer, always ready in case creativity strikes. You could also create voice memos on your phone. Do whatever is necessary to ensure that you will  remember your ideas later, when it comes time to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) and go deeper.

That's when the real work begins. Time to explore that idea to expand and refine it. Will it fly? If you're a writer, will it make a good book or novel or story? And know that you're not ready to write or create just yet; first you need to spend some time crystalizing your thoughts.

First Find a Comfortable Space to Work 

This is essential for anyone who wants to create something truly special, including writers, especially writers. There are many options for finding and designing the perfect spot, and I discussed some of them in a previous post, Let Your Creative Room Decor Free Your Imagination. The most important task is to find a spot that is not only comfy but also inspires and invigorates you. Take some time to try out various locations until you get just the right one. For writers, who can easily take our work with us, a favorite coffee shop or library might offer the perfect combination of comfort and focus if you're unable to work from home. Or maybe a quiet spot in a park that soothes you. 

When creating this space for yourself, don’t forget about noise levels. This can be crucial for writers to allow them to get deep into thought without interruptions. Many people  prefer a little background noise such as soft music or white noise. 

Some of the best props to help you maintain focus wherever you work are music, scented candles, and aromatherapy. Listening to music can help create an atmosphere of relaxation that will allow you to explore new ideas without feeling overwhelmed. Scented candles or aromatherapy diffusers also help to create a peaceful and inviting space that promotes focus. Take the time to experiment with different tracks or scents until you find what works best for you. Lavender and Jasmine scents are especially conducive to promoting a sense of peace and calmness. 

Finding the perfect creative environment for your creative adventures is important; take the time to get this right. Once you have your ideal spot, make it part of your regular routine to visit whenever possible. 

Visualize Your Goal and Stay Positive 

To stay motivated, it is best to set realistic goals that are achievable such as planning to research or write or sketch so much a day or a week. Devise realistic but firm deadlines for yourself and don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet your goals. A short trip, a new pair of shoes, or a box of chocolates can make good rewards. Or simply take a day or two off to catch up on that reading pile or to binge watch that TV show you’ve been meaning to catch.

To stay positive on a long creative journey, especially if you're working on something heavy or triggering or scary, you might try to keep things light hearted by connecting with and spending time with other writers and creatives. Working hard toward the end goal is important, but taking breaks and time away to recharge are also essential to staying motivated and moving forward. 

And always remember this: do not let the nasty negative thought gremlins take over. We are all bugged by them from time to time unfortunately, telling us that we can’t do something or that we are somehow unworthy. And they always seem to intrude whenever creativity strikes. The key to overcoming them is to recognize them for what they are–nuisances that don’t really mean a darn thing and aren’t worth your precious time. When they show up, banish them. Push them away persistently. Then learn to replace them with positive, uplifting thoughts. Tell yourself that you absolutely can do anything you put your mind to and that you are more than worthy of your dreams. This takes time and practice, but the more you do it the better you will become at it.

Brainstorming: How to Fine-tune When Creativity Strikes

When creative ideas strike initially they are raw--wild and untamed, incomplete and unpolished. Expanding and refining them is often the biggest challenge for writers, Yet finding ways to fine-tune your creativity and firm-up your ideas is crucial. To help with this, brainstorming can be incredibly effective. It encourages you to get out of your comfort zone as you focus and explore new concepts.

Start by writing down your idea(s) or something related to a topic you’re interested in, no matter how off-the-wall or far out it may seem. If you have several ideas, pick one or two or maybe three that are most appealing to you and play around with them. Try combining them or approaching them from different angles.

Finally choose one for testing. For writers, stretch it out by asking yourself, what if this happened? And then that? What would my character do next? And go from there. Does your idea still work? Do you still feel it's worth pursuing? The key is to explore and expand on your idea until you have something that is meaningful and inspiring to you, something that you believe in and will want to work with in the days, weeks or months to come.

Get Feedback From Others

Sometimes it helps to get outside opinions when you're on the path of discovery, maybe from family and friends or colleagues. As long as you believe the source truly has your best interests at heart and can provide an unbiased opinion of both the pros and cons of your ideas. Not everyone will fit this bill–many people will come with their own agendas–so it’s important to choose carefully. It might also help to reach out to more than one person and then balance their opinions out. 

Make sure that your own individual voice remains present. You want to end up with an idea or decision that uses the best advice from other people while staying true to yourself.

Research Can Provide New Perspectives For Writers

Once you are close to deciding on an idea, you should do some research to see what else is out there that is similar. This will inform you of any existing articles or books on the subject of your writing, as well as give you ideas on how to approach the topic in your own work.

The Internet is a great place to start your research. You can use search engines to find books, articles, essays, and blog posts on any and every topic you can imagine. You will also find references. You may also want to check out your local library for books and databases related to your topic. Finally, don't forget about hard copy newspapers, magazines, and other publications. And always, always remember to confirm the accuracy and validity of any information you find, especially on the Internet, with multiple sources whenever possible.

Taking the time to carefully explore your ideas early on when creativity strikes will pay off in the end.