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7 Tips for Staying Inspired When You’re Feeling Off

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By Cayla Brooke & Bree Noble

Inspiration. We all need it and want it. Life is electric when we have it. But like most things, inspiration is fickle. One minute you’re flying high full of an infinite source of creativity. The next minute you’re hanging on a wing and a prayer looking at a blank sheet of staff paper.

How do you draw on your creativity when the inspiration well seems dry? Below are several strategies to help prime your creative side. You could choose one or try all seven to get the creative waters flowing again.

1. Walk on the Wild Side

Sometimes you need a change of scenery. And going for a walk outside in nature is one of the best ways to stir your creative juices. In 2014, Stanford University conducted a study relating walking to creativity. The results were astounding. The participants showed a 60% increase in creative output after walking; and their creativity lasted well after their walk had ended.

Walking outside is the perfect combination of fresh air and mild exercise. It creates an environment of multi-tasking (walking) and distraction (moving scenery). It’s a one, two punch that sets your subconscious free to do its thing and keeps the controlling side of you busy and out of the way.

It gives you a chance to develop that perfect melody or fix the lyric that has you stuck. You may get an idea for a show, performance, or video concept. And the best thing is once you return home or to the studio, you’re more energized, calm and ready to create.

2. Do the “Mess Around”

We’ve all seen the image of Einstein and his messy desk. Unfortunately, research shows surrounding yourself with scraps of paper isn’t always the best scenario — but then again, other research does show that a little clutter can help your creativity. It’s that creative chaos vibe.

So what’s the answer? It depends on you and how you react to chaos.

If you’re having a hard time with inspiration, take a look around your space. If your space is a disorganized mess, why not take a few minutes and tidy things up? Chances are, you may feel more in control and ready to get to work.

Then again, if your creative space is sterile and cold, your muse may not want to visit. She loves to feel welcome and unrestricted. What you want is an artistic space that makes you feel creative.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Our 7 Favorite Songwriting Blogs for Dashes of Inspiration.”

3. Bang the Drum All Day Long

When was the last time you played or were creative just for the sake of being creative? You didn’t have a plan. No goals were attached to the activity. You just played or made something for the fun of it.

We did it all the time when we were kids. We finger-painted and doodled and didn’t care about the mess we made. We sang silly made-up songs in front of our bedroom mirrors using a hairbrush for a mic. We were walking, talking, imaginative beings.

When we get older, we lose that side of ourselves as if laughing and playing is a sign of immaturity — what a backward way of thinking. When we play, it takes our mind off our problems and silences the inner editor we all have. It allows creativity to blossom.

If your inspiration seems dried up, pulling out the paintbrushes and calling on your inner Picasso could help. Or you could go old school and play Twister with the kids. Sometimes a few minutes away from work is the best way to get things done in the long run. Go ahead, bang on the drum — and then get back to work.

4. Don’t Stop Believing

Sometimes we need external help. And there’s nothing like a great inspirational video or quote to give us the positive “feels” we desire. It can transport us from a dreary valley-like slump to a mountain peak ready to conquer the world, or at least motivate us to finish that track already!

With the magic of the internet, you have so many resources at your fingertips. Here are just a handful of examples:

It’s hard to come up with excuses with so much inspiration available. How would your life change for the better if you let someone else give you a pep talk every morning? Imagine what you could do.

5. A Hard Day’s Night

Tell me if this sounds like you.

You want to learn more about marketing in 2022, so you start posting on Instagram and making videos. Then you want to grow your YouTube channel and write songs for your next album, then someone tells you sync placements and licensing is profitable so you start building a library. And you know you need to increase your email newsletter, but you also still have 500 copies of your last album sitting in your closet.

It’s all simply too much for one person to do. It’s no wonder you feel uninspired.

“He who chases two rabbits catches none.” ~ Confucius

As an independent musician, it’s more like chasing 22 rabbits than a mere two. You have to wear so many hats; it’s daunting. But there is a simple fix.

More focus. And we’re not talking about simply having more focus during your daily tasks — but more focus when it comes to your goals. You need a development plan. For instance, let’s take the goals mentioned above:

Quarter 1 – Instagram

  • Find 5 books on the subject to read (Instagram growth, content planning, writing copy, etc.)
  • Listen to 2-3 podcasts every week about social media, Instagram, or marketing.
  • Take 1 course to do on growing your audience on Instagram as a musician, 1 course on content planning, etc.
  • Find 5 leaders in the field to follow on Instagram.
  • Schedule time in your planner to work on these goals every week.
  • Make a list of apps or tools required.
  • Look at your goals every day as part of your daily routine, and start implementing what you learn as you go.

Rinse and repeat.

Quarter 2 – Video

Quarter 3 – Email Marketing

Quarter 4 – Online Advertising

By the end of the year, look at what you’ll have accomplished:

  • You’ll know a lot more about marketing online and writing copy.
  • You’ll have grown your Instagram following and engaged fans.
  • You’ll be batching content regularly, and your productivity will improve.
  • You’ll have more videos for your YouTube channel by default.
  • You’ll have gotten better with every video you produce.
  • Your fan base will have grown along with your email list.
  • You’ll be making more money and selling more albums through your email list than ever before.

Having a good development plan is a game-changer.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “How to Beat Imposter Syndrome and Comparisonitis for Good!.”

6. Feelings: They’re Nothing More Than Feelings.

Are the goals you have chosen to please someone else or for you? Do your goals align with what you want in your life?

If I were to ask you what you want your future to look like, would it be a beautiful five-bedroom house with a pool and an apple red convertible sitting in the three-car garage? Do you see yourself touring the world or winning a Grammy? Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting any of these things. But working hard to achieve something only to find that it didn’t bring you joy when you get there sucks.

Have you ever asked yourself how you want to feel in life? Let the words run through your head. “How do I want to feel?” Do you want to feel creative? Joyful? Abundant? Vibrant? Generous? Sexy? Healthy? Give it a good think, and then try this exercise:

  1. Write down 5 – 7 ways you want to feel every day.
  2. Then write down your goals for today and line them up with the feelings you want to experience.

This simple exercise could change your life. For example, if you want to experience more joy in your life, you might: take the workshop you’ve always wanted to but for which never found the time, decide to learn a new skill, make time to spend with a friend, rent the latest comedy.

If you want to feel abundant, you might: book a pedicure, change out of your sweatpants for the day and put on something that makes you feel fabulous, work on that project that you’ve been procrastinating on, but you’re sure will bring in more income.

Life comes alive when you begin to live your life based on how you want to feel. And that is inspirational.

7. Minute By Minute

Of all the tips in this article, I mostly use this one. It’s a little trick I learned last summer that works like a charm. I even used it to help get me started on this article. I call it the two-minute rule.

You can use the two-minute rule for anything that you’re procrastinating doing — whether because of fear, lack of inspiration, or overwhelm. It is also a great tool to help you be consistent. And two minutes of your time is all that is required.

How simple would it be to write for two minutes? Exercise for two minutes. Practice, clean up, meditate, or type an email for two minutes. That doesn’t sound so bad. I mean, you can do almost anything for two minutes. Here’s what you do:

  1. Tell yourself, “I only have to do the thing for 2 minutes. Then I can stop if I want to.”
  2. Set the alarm for two minutes.
  3. Do the thing with a singular focus.
  4. When the alarm goes off, decide whether to keep going or not. Usually, the answer is to keep going. But if you’re not feeling it, you’re allowed to stop. No guilt. Because you did the thing.

Momentum = Inspiration. And sometimes, the act of starting is all that is required to get momentum going.

There you have it. Seven ways to pump the inspiration well and get things flowing freely again. Give one a try. Because somewhere out there, someone is waiting, needing, wanting that special something you’re about to create.

Improve all aspects of your music on Soundfly.

Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, mixing, DIY home recording and production, composing, beat making, and so much more, with Soundfly’s artist-led courses, like: Jlin: Rhythm, Variation, & Vulnerability, RJD2: From Samples to Songs and Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, & Production.

Cayla Brooke is a keynote concert speaker, singer, songwriter and playwright from Vancouver, BC, Canada. She is currently writing her first book titled “Reclaim your Throne” and working on her second album “Feed My Soul”

Bree Noble quit her corporate job as a Director of Finance to pursue music. After a successful run as a touring singer/songwriter, she founded Women of Substance Radio to promote quality female artists in all genres. She hosts the Profitable Musician Podcast where she teaches musicians how to make money by drawing on her extensive experience as a musician, online marketer and business owner.

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