So you’ve spoken to your client, received your brief, and you’re back at your desk ready to start work. But the words won’t come. You can’t quite visualise that design. You’re just not feeling it.

In short, you’re lacking one crucial ingredient – inspiration.

To make things easier, we’ve put our heads together and come up with a short step by step guide for reaching out into the universe to find that crucial first kernel of an idea from which everything else will grow.

But we warn you – it’s not always a simple or linear process. Finding inspiration involves letting a little bit of madness take hold. Things can sometimes get a little strange.

Step 1: Find a spark

The first step in cooking up a piece of creative is finding a spark. But how do you go about it? The key element is different for everyone. For Claude Monet nature was a common inspiration. For Roald Dahl it was the bedtime stories he used to read his own children. And for Ernest Hemingway, it was rumoured to be whisky.

I enjoy a single malt as much as the next guy, but if it’s the middle of the day, my inspirational go-to is typically music. I’ll jump onto YouTube, surf around for something I haven’t heard before – typically acoustic, 70s or 80s rock, or indie – and then see where the soundwaves take me.

In summer, a walk through the forest overlooking Waihi Beach or a swim in the ocean is also a sound option. Call me cheesy but there’s something about the way the light comes through the tree canopy and reflects off the water that sparks and invigorates the soul.

Step 2: Catch fire

In my experience inspiration doesn’t arrive in a flash. It’s not always as easy as hearing or seeing something and then coming up with the perfect story, marketing copy, or pitch to a potential sponsor. You have to wallow in it for a while and let the waves of inspiration wash over you.

If music is your muse, then a good old sing-along – or whistle-along in my case – can do wonders.

I’m lucky I often work alone because it’s this step in the process that involves a touch of madness. But what creative genius wasn’t a little crazy? Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

Step 3: Fan the flames

So inspiration has taken hold but it’s still in its wild, unbridled form. Before you can enjoy what you’ve bottled up and apply it to a set task, like writing a product description or business’ core story, it needs some decanting.

For me this means pouring a few words onto the page to determine the nature of what exactly has been brewed up that day. Sometimes this comes out as a poem, or the lyrics of a song, or gibberish. The key is to uncork that magic and to make sure it’s ready to pour.

Step 4: Get cooking

Finally, it’s time to cook up that perfect piece of creative content. Pour the rest of your inspiration out into your design, marketing copy or sales pitch and see what comes out.

Hopefully you’re so fired up that everything flows and your work comes together perfectly, like a wonderfully textured pavlova – full of class, easy on the eye and capable or satisfying the most discerning of tastes. This won’t always be the case, but at the very least the time taken to gain inspiration earlier on should mean there’s less bashing away at rough edges than there would have been otherwise. Investing some time in hunting for that magic will hopefully have saved you time in the long run. You’ve become more like a word wizard than a word (black)smith.

Step 5: Bon Appetit!

At the end of any good creative process it’s time to serve it up to your client on a silver platter. The work has been done and it’s time for the people to enjoy it.

As creatives it is great to get feedback. Some say measuring results is the preserve of boffins and data-analysing nerds, but for me it’s a vital part of the process and where a lot of the satisfaction comes from.

It’s always nice to see the real-life impact of where your creative journey has led. After all, that’s the destination, and every inspired journey needs a goal.

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