When Stealing Is Okay — Creative Thievery and 8 Ways to Spark Creativity
A question has occupied my mind over the past week. So much so that I wrote it down knowing that I’d circle back to dive deeper.
The question is this: What does it mean to me to create?
When I ponder this question, other questions come to mind like, how do I create? And, what ways can I/am I fueling my creativity on a daily basis?
I made a short list that might give you the creative boost you’re needing these days.
- Listen to good, inspiring, dreamy, thoughtful, well-written music. Don’t just listen to the sound of the song, think hard about the words. What are they saying? What do you think the words actually mean? Why do you like or not like a particular song?
- Write something — anything! Write about your mundane day at work, a short silly poem (doesn’t have to rhyme), or a detailed plan for that idea you have for a children’s book.
- Read at least a few pages of a book — any genre. Absorb someone else’s work. Think about what you like or don’t like about the way they write and the ideas presented in the book. Think about what you’d do differently. If you could have an in-person conversation with the author discussing the book, what would you say?
- Go outside and siphon inspiration from beautiful places in nature. What details in the landscape do you enjoy? What sounds do you hear in this place that you don’t hear in others? Does it conjure a memory? What types of wildflowers grow here? Describe the colors of the sunset in vivid detail.
- Make a list (like this one!) even if it’s just a list of random thoughts or ideas. Reach high into your imaginary thought bubble, grab hold, and tether your thoughts to a page. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re trying to remember that one brilliant idea/quote/thought you had a long time ago. You’ll be glad you wrote it down rather than letting it slip into mental limbo.
- Look back through old pictures — pictures that make you feel happy or nostalgic or that you simply appreciate for the colors and composition. Take them out of the photo album sleeve and hang them up in plain sight where you’ll see them often. Do you ever take pictures just for you? Not for posting on social media or to have framed on your wall — just ordinary, regular moments. Like the house you live in, the car your drive, the view from your front porch, your dad mowing the yard. No filters, no second chances to get the “perfect shot.” Disposable cameras are great for this by the way.
- Create a mood board. Browse Pinterest for visual inspiration. I like to create mood boards on the cusp of a new season when I’m dreaming up ideas for a seasonal bucket list. They help build anticipation for the fun activities and traditions each season brings.
- Rearrange a space in your home or decor on the walls and shelves. Your home is a blank canvas where you get to live! One quote I read recently that resonated with me reads, “The home should be a treasure chest of living.” To heck with design trends. Proudly display that dainty yellow teapot your friend bought just for you or your vintage postcard collection that’s gotten a little out of hand. Your home should be a major source from which you derive inspiration, a place filled with sentimental items that make you feel something, and a place where you feel free to experiment.
What would you add to my list above that helps fuel your creativity?
If you’re a fellow creative, I encourage you to dig deep when asking yourself these questions. Makers and creators are not one in the same. There are poets and painters, songwriters and woodworkers. All are creators, but each specializes in a different medium — words, paint, clay, photographs, film, clothes, music, and so much more. So this question of, ‘How do I create?’ is worth asking.
I have a small yellow journal with pre-printed quotes that break up the blank pages. One quote spoke to me so much that I cut it out and pinned it above my desk where I can read it often. I think it goes along perfectly with the topic of this post. It reads:
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”
– Jim Jarmusch
From what sources can you draw inspiration to fuel your creativity today?