While we might wish for bottomless wells of creativity, even the most revolutionary artists and thinkers get stuck. Dali developed a system to capture dreams, Hemingway wrote every morning (rain or shine, intoxicated or sober), Hunter Thompson re-wrote entire books. Each had a way to get inspired. We will explore many of these strategies to help you find inspiration:
Whether it’s the public library or the internet, research can be a rich source of inspiration. Looking to others can spark your motivation and ambitions. Also consider letting your goals guide your research. For instance Teddy Roosevelt can teach you about ambition, Warren Buffet can give you a lesson in strategic thinking and Dali can give you a glimpse of the creative fringe.
Famed Gonzo journalist, Hunter Thompson, found himself at a dead end early in his career. He was too wild and crazed to be taken seriously by traditional publications like TIME and The New York Times. In this lull, he turned to his favorite authors for inspiration. Hunter would meticulously re-write works by Tom Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway. To borrow a concept from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, we see that Hunter’s tireless re-writing exercises constitute an ‘unconscious decision-making process’; this helped him develop his own style, Gonzo Journalism
Famous surrealist painter, Salvador Dali often tapped into his dreams for inspiration. Before he entered REM sleep (or NREM), Dali would wake himself and begin painting. It is during NREM that we have the most vivid dreams. It is said he would sit in front of his canvas with a paintbrush in one hand and a dense ball in the other. Just before he entered REM sleep, Dali’s body would relax and the ball would drop — awakening him during NREM, or during the most vivid dream cycle. He would then immediately begin capturing his dreams on canvas. While this strategy might not be effective for the next million dollar business model, tapping into your dreams can be a rich source of creative inspiration.
4. Don’t Stop
Every morning, Ernest Hemingway would spend hours writing. No matter if he was traveling or severely intoxicated, he would write. No matter the content, only that he was producing something. It was during these daily writing sessions that Hemingway produced the most important pieces of literature in American history. His routine can teach us the value of relentlessly keeping to a schedule and creating even when we are not feeling creative.
How Magazine suggests borrowing as the no. 1 way to find inspiration. How Magazine cites the invention of the drive-through lane by restaurants for car-loving patrons in the 1950s. Soon thereafter, banks and dry cleaners adopted the idea and drive-throughs are now ubiquitous with America’s fast-paced culture. You can also observe customer’s buying behavior or review speeches to find nuggets of inspiration. Be careful, though — there is a thin line between borrowing and stealing. Build off of other people’s ideas, do not take them verbatim.
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