Three Basic Ways To Stay Inspired (Almost) All The Time

2017 Artwork Ways to get inspired

First of all, it’s impossible to be inspired literally all of the time. However, whether you’re an artist, writer or comic-maker, there are plenty of ways to be inspired most of the time, and to get through the times when you aren’t feeling inspired.

So, how do you do this? Here are a few tips:

1) Start general:
There’s nothing worse than finding that you have literally no ideas whatsoever for your next painting, story, comic etc… You might be eager to get started, but you don’t even know where to begin.

Well, one way to find some ideas relatively quickly is to start with a very general idea and then refine it into something more specific. Even if your idea is just something like “sci-fi comics are cool, I want to make a sci-fi comic“, then it’s better than literally nothing.

As soon as you’ve got your general idea, then look at which parts of that idea interest you the most and focus on them (eg: going back to the sci-fi example, you might be a fan of 1980s cyberpunk fiction/films).

Then take a look at those parts and see which general elements of them really interest you (for example, with the cyberpunk genre, you might like the film noir-style aesthetics, the emphasis on neon lighting, the focus on artificial worlds, the writing style, the focus on “information overload” etc..)

Keep doing this until you have a fairly specific idea of the type of thing that you want to make. Once you’ve got a general premise/idea then, even if you make a fairly mediocre painting or tell a fairly generic/basic story based on it- it will still be something that is more inspired and exciting to make than you might expect. Plus, you’ll have actually made something!

2) Regular practice (and failure): Despite what popular culture would have you believe, getting inspired isn’t really some kind of magical and unpredictable thing (ok, it is sometimes – but most of the time it isn’t). Getting inspired is a skill and it’s a skill that can be improved with regular practice.

Sticking to a regular practice schedule might seem intimidating at first, but the important part of it is that you get into the habit of making something every day, three days, week etc.. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. It doesn’t matter whether you feel inspired or not- make something. Even if it’s terrible!

Even if you just end up repeating your previous work, making a crappy painting, making a dull webcomic update etc.. the important part of practicing regularly is experiencing the feeling of knowing that you’ll be able to make something on time, every time.

Once you know what this feels like, then writer’s block, artist’s block etc.. will have much less of an effect on you. After all, you know that you’re still going to make something – the only question is how good it will be.

By getting used to producing the occasional crappy painting, failed story etc… you’ll both reduce your own fear of failure (which can be a major cause of feeling uninspired etc..) and you’ll also become more comfortable with the idea of actually making things.

Plus, I’ve found that you’re more likely to have “inspired moments” if you actually “show up regularly” and keep making things. For example, if one in ten of your paintings is truly inspired – then you’re going to produce more good art if you make a small painting every day than if you make a large painting every three months.

3) Learn how to get inspired by things:
One cause of feeling uninspired (particularly if you’re new to making art, making comics, writing fiction etc…) is misunderstanding the idea of “originality”.

Yes, you shouldn’t directly copy things that other people have made, but you probably aren’t going to get very far if you don’t take inspiration from anything else. Even the most “original” films, paintings, comics etc.. have all taken inspiration from many other things. The more inspirations you have, the more “original” your art, comics, fiction etc.. will be.

So, how do you get inspired by other things without completely ripping them off? This article explains the process in more depth, but it boils down to having a basic understanding of copyright law.

Although I’m not a copyright lawyer, it’s a basic principle of most copyright laws that copyright only protects how an idea is expressed, not the idea itself. For example, the idea of a spaceship captain isn’t copyrightable (anyone can draw or write about a character that fits into this concept). But, Captain Picard from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is a copyrighted character, since he is a highly-specific interpretation of that general idea.

When you see something that really inspires you, ask yourself questions like “What emotional tone does this thing have?”, “If I could describe the writing style in 1-3 words, what would they be?”, “What colour scheme does this art use?”, “If I could describe the personality of my favourite character in 1-3 words, what would they be?”, “What type of humour does this comic use?” etc…

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, use those answers to make something new.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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