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.