Three Ways To Use Time Travel For Creative Inspiration

2017 Artwork Time Travel Inspiration Article sketch

First of all, I obviously won’t be talking about actual time travel or even about stories, comics etc… that revolve around the theme of time travel either (despite the fact that I’ll be posting several webcomics about this very subject here over the next 20-30 days).

No, I’ll be talking about how you can return to a particular mood or state of mind that you were in at some point in the past. Since we are all constantly changing (even if in very subtle ways), your imagination right now is probably at least slightly different to what it was a few years ago. After all, you’ve had more time to get inspired by different things, your opinions may have changed etc… slightly.

But, if you’re running low on inspiration, then finding a way to re-visit a time when you fel more inspired (or when your imagination was slightly different) can be very useful. So, how do you do it? Here are a few tips:

1) Music (that you haven’t listened to for a while)
: This particular trick can often only work once or twice, but it can be a surprisingly powerful way to tap into older parts of your imagination.

All you have to do is to find a song that you really liked during a particular time in your life and listen to it, but it must be a song that you haven’t heard in quite a while.

If you listen to a song that you remember well and have listened to a lot, then the association between that song and the time you first heard it will be considerably weaker. Instead of being “that song that instantly transports me back to several years ago“, it’ll be “that song I listened to yesterday“.

So, if you can find a song that you listened to (and really liked) in the time you want to return to, which you haven’t really listened to since then – it can be a very powerful way of jogging your memory. The trick, of course, is actually finding a great song that you haven’t listened to again in several months or years.

2) Similar inspirations: Chances are, if a particular time in your life was a very creative one, then you were probably inspired by something. It was probably something new, exciting and interesting. So, re-visiting it probably won’t give you the same reaction that you had when you saw, read, watched, listened to etc… it for the first time.

So, look for things that are similar to this original thing, but are different. In other words, look for things in the same genre that you haven’t seen, read or played before. This way, you’ll get the “first time” feeling again, whilst also being able to create similar (but probably slightly different) things to what you created during the first time that you were inspired.

For example, even though I’d discovered it somewhat earlier, the first time I was really inspired by the cyberpunk genre was in 2008. Although I’ve been inspired by this genre many times since then, I found that I was really inspired by it (as much as in 2008) a few weeks before writing this article because I’d played a couple of old cyberpunk computer games (like “Deus Ex” and “System Shock”) for the first time.

So, look for similar (but different) inspirations to the things that inspired you at the time that you’re trying to return to.

3) Rose-Tinted Memories: Chances are that you won’t be able to exactly replicate the circumstances of one of the more inspired times in your life. Likewise, thinking too much about these times in the wrong way (eg: missing them) will probably just make you miserable… and less inspired. But, of course, this isn’t to say that your rose-tinted memories are completely useless.

When you remember, try not to compare your memories to the present day. Just revel in the feelings of possibility and inspiration that come from remembering one of the more inspired times in your life. This is difficult to describe, and difficult to do correctly – but, if you can, then it can be surprisingly inspirational.

But, if doing this dredges up depressing feelings of missing the past, then it’s probably best avoided.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂


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