Staying inspired has never really been an issue for me. My problem is having too many ideas and a desire to experience them all at once. It also helps that I'm finally, after many careers, doing what I love. Often working weekends and late into the night to feed all of my passions: writing, photography, food, and interior design — it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day or lifetimes for that matter, to experience everything.
When I have the opportunity to interview other creatives here on the blog, I love to ask them how they stay inspired and motivated, especially on the days when they aren't quite feeling it. I've curated a round-up of their top tips and favorite resources for you below, along with my method and philosophy for motivation, inspiration, and creativity.
Often asked how I stay inspired, I'll explain that while I'm excellent at minimizing distractions and productive when focused on a clear direction, my methods could use refinement. Despite my resolve, my creative process can be scattered, finding inspiration and ideas everywhere; a menu item, typography on a sign, or an eye-catching color story in a magazine. I'll track and take note of every single one, jotting down an idea to style and photograph in my many journals, or pinning inspirational images to Pinterest. Magazines are torn up and wedged between the pages of books and...speaking of books! My family is mortified by my treatment of books, viewing my habit of writing in the margins and ripping out pages, as a sacrilege akin to scribbling on the furniture. Not exactly the most precise tracking method.
While I'm excellent at minimizing distractions and productive when focused on a clear direction, my methods could use refinement. Despite my resolve, my creative process can be scattered, finding inspiration and ideas everywhere...
Ironically, the one thing my family would love for me to write down, are recipes. I never write out my recipes, which means a favorite dish is a little different each time I make it. Something I happen to love that also happens to drive my family crazy. I see it as an adventure though, best for keeping them on their toes and appreciating the newness of each meal. Also, I tend to cook by feel and really don't have much patience for recipes. I tend to consider them more of an outline. I have a culinary degree, I've worked in high-profile kitchens, and owned my own business — it's all in my head and I cook by feel, so recipes are the one thing you'll never find in my many journals.
This brings me to the best tips for creativity, motivation, and inspiration. Specifically, what to do on the days you simply aren't feeling it...or are feeling it too much. The feeling of way too many ideas, and too many paths to explore, without clear a direction on where to focus your attention first.
For the former, I cannot underestimate the importance of finding novel stimuli and experiencing new environments, ideas, and people. Especially people, one of my favorite sources of inspiration. I'll often dive into a biography or road trip to a nearby town taking in a pretty walk around the city. I love great design, and if you look around, it’s everywhere. From a funky old sign to flea markets —beauty can be found in the most obscure objects. When I feel burnout on the way, I know it’s time to expand my immediate world and get inspired elsewhere. It works every time.
For the former, I cannot underestimate the importance of finding novel stimuli and experiencing new environments, ideas, and people. Especially people, one of my favorite sources of inspiration.
What about the opposite feeling? When you find yourself spinning in circles with far too many ideas, possibilities, and not enough hours in the day? What do you do when your only desire is a clear path forward? I have an unconventional way to navigate these moments in particular. Similar to when low-level frustration is clearly telling me where I need boundaries, stress from too many ideas and directions shows me where I need to let go.
To fully clear my head and start fresh, starting over is the only way to allow the most impactful ideas to bubble to the surface. It sounds extreme but half of the ideas clogging my brain aren't the big ideas, their nice to have's.
Literally let go — I unclench my hands, open them wide, and let all the strings I am holding fall to the floor. All of them. The to-do list? It gets tossed out, if it's really that important I'll remember it when I need to. That idea for a blog post that's been half-baked for weeks? Drop it. If it was a truly great idea I would have done it already. To fully clear my head and start fresh, starting over is the only way to allow the most impactful ideas to bubble to the surface. It sounds extreme but half of the ideas clogging my brain aren't the big ideas, their nice to have's.
Michel Van Devender, artist, designer, and creator believes, "There’s a lot of discipline and showing up that plays into creativity. Believing inspiration and motivation will always hit before you can start may be a bit of myth." Loving way too many books to name her favorite, Michel loves podcasts like Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead as well as Elise Loehnen’s Pulling the Thread. When she's in the mood for a lift she loves the Avett Brothers, a french Spotify playlist
When nothing works, I know it’s my mind and body telling me I need to take some time off to recharge. Knowing it’s okay to not feel inspired and motivated 100% of the time is important.
"I also use reading and visuals (my mood boards) to feel inspired and get me motivated. Other times, I may need a change of scenery. I may meet a friend for coffee or lunch at I spot where I love the food and interiors. I may also go shopping, vintage and antique stores are my favorite. When nothing works, I know it’s my mind and body telling me I need to take some time off to recharge. Knowing it’s okay to not feel inspired and motivated 100% of the time is important. We’re not machines! I know I have to have a lot of sleep and quiet time for ideas and inspiration to brew and steep and for me to be at my best. Having grace for ourselves also goes a long way to a healthy, balanced and happy life."
Gabriela Narvaez brings inspirational objects from travels home with her. "I get a lot of inspiration from traveling and from visits to Nicaragua Every time I go, I visit the outdoor markets. The local artisans are extremely inspiring to me. I take a lot of photographs and videos to look at when I'm back home."
Julia Carlson has identified her most creative time of day and has built her daily schedule around it. "I've found that my creativity and inspiration comes in the mornings. I create my schedule around this and it sets up the rest of my day. I love waking up early and I usually begin with meditation for 10-15 minutes which naturally moves into setting my intentions for the day. I then do some form of exercise (I rotate between yoga, walking and weight training) and have my blended coffee (coffee with collagen protein). I will also do my writing or social media content first thing in the day as I find it flows better. A strong morning routine keeps me inspired."
I have enough creative practice muscle to know that stepping away makes it not only easier to come back, the ideas and work feel more efficient when I do."
Amanda Gibby Peters enjoys a letting herself wander, trusting her instincts to guide her to just the right creative outlet whether that's "journaling, jumping around (from one task to another) at my interest’s whim, giving myself an hour to read or listen to a podcast, walking around a garden store (one of my favorite ways to take a deep breath!) or taking the day off. I have enough creative practice muscle to know that stepping away makes it not only easier to come back, the ideas and work feel more efficient when I do."
Amanda also loves turning to books for inspiration. Here are a just a few of her favorites:
The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Decoded by Jay Z
Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
How and where do you find your inspiration? Send me a message with your favorite resources and routines. I can't wait to hear from you. As always, thank you for reading.
7. Edit With Indoor-Friendly Photo Presets
If your indoor location has a lot of discordant colors going on, use a stylistic and warm edit to even out those tones. A warm and earthy preset can subdue the colors that look jarring, evening out the tones and adding gold and copper hues that bring out the cozy feel of some indoor spaces. If you want to go the extra mile, move distracting colors, objects, and textures out of frame to focus on a statement piece of furniture or minimalistic space to really focus on your subject. Try our Golden Preset Collection, made for indoor photography.
8. Hold Steady
When taking photos in low light, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the shutter speed that your camera is using. Shutter speed simply refers to the length of time that the light hits the camera’s sensor during the exposure. In low light conditions the camera has to use a slower shutter speed to allow more light in to create a well exposed shot. But the problem with slow shutter speeds is that if the camera moves while it’s taking the shot, the resulting image will be blurred due to camera shake. The solution? Use a tripod for camera stability and for clearer images. I use this gooseneck tripod for most of my indoor photography.
Do you have any other iPhone photography tips that we didn’t cover?
We hope these tips were helpful! Here’s to many, many swoon-worthy interior photographs in the future. ;)