by Maria Schulz
Sometimes, it’s hard to be inspired enough to do the things you love to do. Take writing, for instance. There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting down to write a new story, blog post, or even a letter to a friend. But there’s also nothing more frustrating than finding your inspiration tank on empty, and no matter how hard you crank that ol’ engine, it just doesn’t start.
When I get to this point, I try different ways to jump start my creativity:
1. Read the Entertainment section of the newspaper. I usually find something funny or outrageous that riles me up and makes me want to write. Think The Kardashians, the Oscars, or Dancing With the Stars (as ridiculous as it may be, I still love Dancing With the Stars). Gwyneth Paltrow is always good for a laugh too, especially when she says things like how easy moms who work in an office have it compared to afflicted actresses like her who must work on a set. Sure! I know lots of office workers who get paid $10,000,000 per job.
2. Tap into pop culture. I tried to watch the Bruce Jenner special, but I started to feel like he was a guest I’d invited into my house, and now he’d overstayed his welcome. The show was too long! We were told the same thing about 700 times. I think it’s great that his family supports him. I find it surprising that Kris Jenner was NOT okay about his desire to change (think of the PR potential there!). My biggest gripe with the show was that it was dull. I think there must be lots of much more interesting individuals going through similar challenges out there that would love to talk about it.
3. Read inspiring quotes. Lots of great authors have wrestled with this problem long before I started complaining about it. Mostly they say: park your butt in a chair and just start writing. So here I am. What do I do now?
4. Exercise. There’s nothing quite like walking around in the bright sunshine to make you feel better about the world in general. I let my dog choose our path (yes, I know: Cesar Milan would tell me that I am not being a true leader. Who cares? My dog has more imagination than his dogs). At the end of the walk, I’m happier, my dog is happier (and sleepy), and I can sit down to write.
5. Take a class. There are lots of web-based seminars and workshops that will help you get motivated and inspired, even if they inspire you differently than originally planned. I recently took a class online called something like “8 Great Traits of The Terrific, Talented, and Totally Awesome.” It started out with a story about a dog in a power suit who was apparently having a crisis of confidence and ended up by teaching me great nuggets of wisdom, including: Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Creative!, Go For It! , Don’t Stop Now, Embrace Your Focus, Your Creativity is a Fountain…Let it Flow, Reject the Naysayers, Make the Future Pay, Can an Ant Move a Rubber Tree Plant? and You Are Worth Loving! By the end, the dog was very confident, and I was laughing very hard. It left me inspired, amused, and wondering how I could get a job teaching courses like that. Thank goodness it was free.
6. Talk to your Kids. There are so many times that a simple conversation with my girls has given me an idea for a story or a blog post. Their take on gym class, crazy classmates, summer reading lists, and life in general takes me back to my own days in school, cracks me up, and inspires me. If you can’t remember something hilarious that happened in school when you were a kid, you just aren’t trying.
7. Cook. Making something delicious that my family enjoys is my quest, and it can be as simple as finding the Holy Grail. You’re never quite sure you’re going to succeed, but you feel compelled to keep searching. I have delighted and tormented my family with my cooking on many different occasions. My girls are still talking about the Eggplant Fontina Gratin dish I made years ago that they both hated with the intensity of a thousand blazing hot suns.
My husband, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Saltimbocca that I made one night after I tried it (and loved it) in an Italian restaurant in Manhattan. He keeps buying all of the ingredients, just in case I want to make it again. So really, it’s a win/win since I’m creating memories that will be cherished for a lifetime (my kids love making fun of my cooking).
Plus, when I cook, I find that ideas come to me about that story I’m writing, or I figure out how to fix the problems I’ve been having in a chapter, or even get an idea about what the cover of my next book should look like. So whether dinner is the bomb…literally…or a home run, I am inspired.
Recipe: Chicken Saltimbocca
Here’s that dish that my husband enjoyed so much. It’s very easy to make and it’s delicious too. Enjoy!
So, what inspires you? What helps you be creative when the old well runs dry? Which recipes are a hit–and which ones are a miss–with your family? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!