Do you want to have an infinite reservoir of inspiration? Be a perennial student. Learn or try something new, however small, every day (or at the very least once a week). It’s harder to get into a rut or funk if you’re challenging your brain with something new and giving it freedom to play. It keeps Resistance and the inner critic at bay.

Copy your favorites

Be a student of things you love. Notice designs, etc. that you admire and copy them for fun. In your practice, mimic the styles you are drawn to. Gather inspiration from many different sources. The more you study and practice, the more you’ll develop a critical eye and get better at your skill.

Take it all in

Be a sponge. Notice everything. Absorb everything. I’m continually inspired every single day when I drive home from work because of the way the light catches the trees along the road. Sometimes I’ll pull over and wander through whatever patch of nature I can find to take a few pictures. Wandering is good for the creative soul. I try to take in all the beauty I can possibly stand, and that makes me long to capture it somehow in creative expression. Collect images, articles, or anything that inspires you in a notebook or app. I snap photos and save articles and tidbits in Evernote so that I can access them anywhere.

Listen

Seek out others’ stories. Don’t be limited by your opinions or preconceived notions of people, or let others inform your opinions of others. Get the whole story. Take the time to listen to the annoying customer, the office weirdo, the panhandler. Expand your world by always being willing to see it through someone else’s eyes. You’d be surprised how much a little empathy can multiply your experience and understanding and grow you as a human.

Focus on just one sense at a time

Take a few moments throughout your day to savor things. Close your eyes while you eat your lunch. Plug your ears and take a big whiff of cut grass or a freshly sharpened pencil. Zero in on something like the bass line in the song on the radio. Identify in detail the various individual colors in something nearby. The more you notice, the better your brain gets at being descriptive. This is a great tool to have in your belt for any creative pursuit, as creating–whether it be visual arts, writing, music–is a means of description.

Get around the right people

Surround yourself with people who challenge you intellectually and creatively. Stimulate your desire to grow in your skill by being around people who are great at what you want to be great at. Have deep conversations. Just like muscles, your intellect will atrophy if you don’t keep it challenged. If you only spend time with people at your level or lower, you can expect to plateau and get bored. Learn from people above you, teach the people below you. You can’t improve in a vacuum, so get around people who will offer new perspectives and encourage you to strive for excellence.

This may all sound pretty hippy-dippy, but being observant and keen to learn and try new things truly will find you continually inspired. A healthy curiosity begets an attitude of wonder and excitement, and the more excited you get at what is possible, the more you’ll want to create new things. Collect beauty. Soak it up until you can’t contain it, then go make beautiful things.

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