Where Do You Find Inspiration?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on things that inspire you - where you look for it, what you look for, how you use it in your daily life or job or hobbies, and what happens when it’s hard to come by.

Here are a few of my own thoughts on inspiration:
  • I almost never find inspiration in the medium in which I am working. For instance, if I am composing music, I can’t listen to music. If I am directing a play, I don’t look at other plays. For designing a website, I tend to stay away from the Web.

  • I like to ask questions. What would happen if I put this Jack Daniels Burger in a song? How does the sound of the 4-train at Union Square change the design of this website? Why is the sky red?

  • Repetition helps. If I’m starved for ideas, I might grab an interesting piece of paper (I like yellow legal pads at the moment) and an awesome pen or marker - something un-boring, and just start writing/drawing numbers or dots or lines or letters. I’ll fill the page. I’ll count backwards out loud using roman numerals while I write forwards using hexadecimal. I will tap on my desk for half an hour. Type rhythmically and melodically on my computer keyboard into a plain text editor. Copy and paste huge blocks of text. Move my arm in a particular way for a long time. The journey always goes like this: Interest, Boredom, Fatigue, Mindlessness, Inspiration.

  • It is important for me to remember that everything is connected. That nothing I might be doing is in any way - nor can it be - separate from the world around me. What this means, practically, is that I can always go outside, or read a book, or take a nap, and it’s relevant, helpful, and potentially direction-changing. Distractions don’t exist if you pay enough attention.