Staying inspired and finding ways of making what we do exciting to us is an ongoing challenge. Simply put, we spend a lifetime looking for different ways to play the same 12 notes.
Having said that, here are five things that I do that keeps me out of those seemly unavoidable creative ruts. Hopefully, you'll find a few of these helpful, too.
1. Make non-linear connections
The surest way to derail your creativity is to only look at things in linear ways. No matter how many times you slice it, 1 + 1 will always equal 2. It can one apple, one orange, one banana. The end result will be two of the same thing. However, try looking it from a non-accumulative perspective, then you'll find yourself arriving at new outcomes. I have one for you: mobile phone + computer = smartphone. You dig!
2. Pretend you are someone else
Channeling other people's way of thinking teaches us to think of a different mindset. The next time you play "Giant Steps," look at it from a Sidney Bechet perspective and see what different kinds of ideas transpire. Or vice versa, the next time you play "When the Saints Go Marching In," pretend you're playing it like John Coltrane. Sometimes when I'm in an uncomfortable social situation, I think of someone I know with really excellent social skills, and I try to channel their way of thinking. Works like a charm!
3. Think like a child
One of the beautiful things about small children is how they see and have a great appreciation for things that are not even on the periphery of most grown-ups. A child will become enthralled by blooming flowers planted outside an NYC building. Or will become fascinated with the patterns of the floor tiles at the Supermarket. Like the young child, learn to find beauty and excitement in the obvious or even the mundane. It's incredible how life instantly becomes more exciting and enriching.
4. Do something new and different
Doing things that take us out of our everyday routine is excellent for stimulating new ideas. For me, I take writing classes or my publicly known fascination with making balloon animals. I find that I always return to music with a much higher appreciation. But you can take an art class, a business class, a cooking class, etc. One of the most immediate things that you notice is how much fun you're having. That's s because we don't have the same pressure to be great that we have when we play music. Sometimes all that we need is a reminder that it's ok to have fun. This can carry us a long way.
One thing that we've all learned from working with computers and various electronic gadgets is at some point you have to reboot them. You have to either restart them or sometimes just turn them off and let them rest. It seems too simple, but sometimes that's all that is needed to increase efficiency. Give it a try. Right after you finish sharing this blog post.