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

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.

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!

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


  1. 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.

  2. Charlotte

    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!

  3. Marta

    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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Beth_Daily_Dog_Tag

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Andrea

    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! 🙂

  13. Akaleistar

    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 🙂

  14. 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!!!

  15. 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.

  16. 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..


  17. April@LoveOurRealLife

    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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  • I wasn’t particularly close to my aunts and uncles growing up. I was born when my parents were a little older and I always felt like my aunts and uncles had done the aunt and uncle thing and didn’t need more of it by the time I was born.

But my Uncle H and Aunt J were different. When my uncle was dying I was asked what some of my biggest memories were. This question came up again over the weekend. And there were so many to choose from. The biggest was, of course, sticky buns on Sunday morning. (And usually going to the store with him to get them.) There was also ✨ “driving” the tractor through the fields on the farm
✨ fishing during the summer
✨ trips to the store and getting a candy bar that I didn’t have to tell my parents about (but always did)
✨ talking about his Spanish classes
✨ “scaring the fish away” by talking, but he was fine with me talking anyway
✨ driving the boat...and starting to fill the boat with water when I went too fast, but he wasn’t upset
✨driving the golf cart around the golf course
✨ listening to his stories about his time in the army

He wasn’t a perfect man and I saw that once I was an adult. But for someone who was only close to one uncle growing up, he’s part of some of my best childhood memories. 💙
  • ”I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.” [Anne Lamott]

The last time I was here it was cold and the ground was covered in snow. I said goodbye to my uncle. (That sentence still brings tears to my eyes.) Now it’s (slightly) warmer and the world is waking up after winter. This weekend I was thankful for 🌻 the chance to enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Michigan with my dog in my lap
🌻 a family brunch
🌻 followed by a family dinner the same day
🌻 fresh WI cheese curds
🌻 long talks with my cousin

What were you thankful for this weekend?
  • Lake Michigan was barely visible when we left this morning. It was fun to see how the view of lake changed each day—and throughout the day!—this weekend.
  • I guess I didn’t have to worry about whether or not the dogs would get along. 🤷🏻‍♀️😂
  • Hello, Lake Michigan. 👋🏼
  • When you think they finally placed an order for you...and then they make you get off the chair. 😒 Swipe to see other photos from my day: 🐾 Met my human’s aunt and I was cute.
🐾 Asked my grandhuman for tummy rubs.
🐾 Realized my tummy rubs weren’t his priority. 🙄
🐾 Met two Doodles and my human pet one of them... so if you’d like a human, I’m getting rid of mine. No time for that kind of betrayal.
  • We’re headed on an adventure! Mina’s handling the longest road trip she’s been on like a champ. While at a rest stop we met a man wearing a “Dogs are my favorite people” shirt (👏🏼👏🏼) and his German Shepherd, who fell in love with Miss Mina. Can you blame him? Who wouldn’t fall in love with her? #littleonesadventures
  • Goodnight moon. 🌙

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