What Provides Creative Inspiration For You & How Can You Tap Into That When Creativity Runs Dry?

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“But if you move into my old house I won’t visit you and I don’t want to see pictures or Snaps from inside your house.”

A late night chat with a friend turned into a discussion about the possibility of her family moving to my hometown. I lived in a beautiful college town in Wisconsin until I was nine. I still remember that fateful day in June when my dad sat down with me to tell me he had received a call to a church in Minnesota and would probably take it. I remember the panic at the thought I wouldn’t see my dad all the time while he worked in Minnesota, before I realized I would actually have to live in Minnesota, too. I experienced a momentary blip of excitement (adventure!), before I thought, “WTF, why would I ever in a million years want to move to Minnesota?!?” And believe me, I made sure everyone knew that was how I felt when we moved that August.

But I digress. I’m often asked why I still call it my hometown, why I feel like it’s such a part of me, even though I left when I was nine. I didn’t even spend a full decade there, and yet I feel this attachment to it. The answers I always share (and believe to be true) are: 1) Even though I wasn’t there for a “full decade,” I was still there for nine years. That’s half of my childhood and I have a lot of beautiful memories from my life there. 2) Once we left, I still had strong ties to my hometown. My childhood best friend and I visited each other every summer. She’d spend a week or two with me in Minnesota and I’d spend a week or two with her in Wisconsin. And for two years in high school, someone from my hometown lived with my family during the week and when she’d go home on the weekend I’d sometimes go with her. (I learned how to parallel park on her dad’s farm.) So it’s not like I left and never returned. I was there every summer. And this July, I was there quite a bit.

[Tweet “I believe that some of my creativity and creative inspiration comes from…”]

There’s another reason I feel so attached to my hometown that I don’t often share: I believe that some of my creativity and creative inspiration stems from and is rooted in my hometown. 

Let's chat about the source of our creativity and creative inspiration, as well as the different ways we can tap into it when our creativity runs dry. // dreams-etc.com

In particular, my house. Long before I ever I thought about sitting down to put a story on paper, I still told stories. I’d move around my house or my yard in my own world and I’d make up stories or retell stories I loved. I’d swim around my family room as a mermaid, with my BFF dolphin pal. I’d run through the woods behind my house on a quest similar to Labyrinth (sans the muppets and actually trying to retrieve the baby), and I’d act out a scene from one of my favorite movies (Return to Witch Mountain) on my playground. We had a multi-level deck out back and when I was ready to tell a story, I’d run outside, down the deck and through two trees at the end. Those trees were the doorway to whatever story I was going to tell.

Why do I think that my creativity and creative inspiration stems from and is rooted in my hometown? I see little nods to my hometown in my writing. Sometimes I know I’m putting these nods in, sometimes I pick it up as I’m editing, but I’ll find a piece of my hometown built into the setting of a story. It might be the house down the street from mine that provided the floor plan for the house in my novel The Porcelain Doll. The old school just out of town that inspired the abandoned building that acts as a catalyst for the action in a short story I wrote in college. Or even the house I’ve been staying in this summer that—very loosely—inspired the cottage in my short story (called The Cottage) that was published in Night Visions, and also plays a role in a larger work that I have.

Let's chat about the source of our creativity and creative inspiration, as well as the different ways we can tap into it when our creativity runs dry. // dreams-etc.com

I’ve never put the house I lived in (that my dad built) into a story, but the house itself is a place I think back to. I used to have a recurring dream that I was walking through a house—room after room after room—in search of something. I’d always wake up from that dream excited and inspired. I’d take the mystery and sense of adventure from my dream into whatever I was working on. My house felt that way on a smaller scale. (It’s always a mansion in my dream.) There were rooms and nooks and crannies. And sometimes when I feel creatively dry, I go back to that house and walk around. I feel that inspiration and sense of adventure from my dream. I think back to the stories I used to create as I played both inside and outside of my house.

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is: how can I tap into the inspiration that comes from my hometown and that house? I guess in some ways I already do when I close my eyes and walk through that house in my mind. But how else can I use this place to my advantage?

I, obviously, don’t have all the answers, but I wanted to share this because I want to ask you a few questions:
1 // Is there a place or a thing that provides creative inspiration for you?
2 // How can you tap into that source of inspiration, especially when the creative wells run dry?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share in the comments below!

[Tweet “How can you tap into your source of inspiration when creative wells run dry?”]

[Tweet “Is there a place or thing that provides creative inspiration for you?”]

Let's chat about the source of our creativity and creative inspiration, as well as the different ways we can tap into it when our creativity runs dry. // dreams-etc.com

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  • Reply
    Lindsey @andthekitchensink.net
    August 18, 2017 at 9:21 am

    When I need a little creative inspiration, I pick up a book or go for a walk to get inspired.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2017 at 9:31 am

    I never thought to tap into those early memories for creative inspiration, which is silly, because I have so many happy thoughts about my childhood and the various towns we lived in as my parents settled into their jobs/careers. I love that you have a house in your mind you can sneak off to when you need to summon your muses 🙂 Also moving at that age can be very difficult but I’m glad that you adjusted so well and that you can still conjure up mostly happy memories from Wisconsin and Minnesota. <3 Hope you have a great weekend, Crystal!

  • Reply
    August 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

    As a food blogger, any trip to the grocery store, a restaurant or farmer’s market provides inspiration for me. When I need to tap into creativity, I just wait ’til I’m hungry. Then the inspiration FLOWS.

  • Reply
    Beth Kondrick
    August 18, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I find creative inspiration when I take a vacation. I think just getting away from the day to day routines gets my brain thinking differently and when I return I’m often refreshed and inspired. I’d spend as much time in that place as you can, take pictures for when you can’t be there?

  • Reply
    Amber Brooks
    August 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I find creative inspiration in the most random things and at the most random times. However, I get the most creativity when I am home. Watching TV, reading books, listening to music, and all of my everyday activities bring about inspiration.

  • Reply
    Lindsay Katherine
    August 18, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I find inspiration in my life – what’s going on with my family, my home, my thoughts, the world around me. I love spending quiet time by the lake, too.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I’m not particularly creative, but sometimes when I have a problem or need, I come up with a creative solution. I’m inspired by nature and also vintage items.

  • Reply
    Caitlin Patton
    August 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    I definitely think returning back to my roots and my family can help to recenter myself and get my brain back on track! Some of that southern hospitality and sweet tea is all it takes.

  • Reply
    Corey Wheeland
    August 18, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    What an awesome post! I definitely find inspiration in my surroundings and the people I love that feel like home. I think it’s because there, I feel most myself.

  • Reply
    Freak + Pocky
    August 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I find creative inspiration in my favorite shows + chats with other creative friends. Whenever I’m in a crafty funk, either of those things gets all the ideas flowing and puts me right back in my creative place.

  • Reply
    Lecy | A Simpler Grace
    August 18, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    I love this idea, Crystal! I find inspiration in so many things – nature and the words of people I admire and how I feel with the people I love.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I loved this post! Usually, when I feel like I’m in an inspo drought, I talk long walks in the woods (near my place, totally safe) and just stare at the stars. Doing that really gets my inspo/creativity flowing! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 19, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    When my creative well is dry, it usually means it’s time for me to take a break and try something new 🙂

  • Reply
    Erica @ Coming up Roses
    August 20, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    I also think some of my creativity comes from visiting my hometown – there’s just something special that’s reborn every time I’m around there!!!

  • Reply
    Autumn @ Stay gold Autumn
    August 21, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I love this! I always feel very inspired when I visit my hometown too, unfortunately though, it is 6 hours away. For me, I need some open space and/or my house to be very clean to feel inspired. I always feel a little stressed out in urban areas and I feel myself feeling a little claustrophobic living in the burbs.

  • Reply
    Joy Hammond
    August 21, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    This is very sweet. I am actually not even sure where my creativity comes from! I just know that I love writing! It definitely makes me think though, hmm..


  • Reply
    August 24, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    This is wonderful! It is so important to find a source of inspiration. I feel most inspired when I slow down and pay attention to my surroundings. Thanks for this:-)

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