You could spend entire work days browsing galleries and portfolios online hoping to find a spark for your own creative ideas. Unfortunately the pursuit of inspiration is a way to feel productive without actually producing anything.
Designer David Mikula recommends that instead of wasting our time looking for inspiration, we should spend it making our own inspiration, even if the experience makes us feel dumb. Over on Medium, Mikula writes:
You surf. You tumbl. You pin. You FFFFound. You “curate” popular, proven work. You find hundreds of niche, beautiful examples of success. Dozens of formulas that look like they can be applied to your project. You show your team and clients work that other people have created.
When you’re learning to think for yourself, this is fantastic. But when you’re producing creative work, it’s not. That is not the creative process.
The more you look for inspiration: the less you make. When you put that much energy into watching other people make: you begin to think it’s impossible to do great work of your own.
You have to dive in. You have to make yourself uncomfortable….Where do you start? Start by sharing your point of view. Talk to your friends, your team. Whomever. The moment your idea is in the world, it’s going to get pushed around a lot. If it continues to make sense, then you have an opportunity. And you made it—you made your own opportunity.
Inspiration is often a way to make ourselves feel creatively energized and busy, but when it comes to being more productive or creative, that’s where the activity falls short. The hours you spend browsing sites for creative inspiration is time you could have instead spent making your own ideas and learning from the experience.
The best creative work doesn’t come from time spent looking for inspiration, it comes as a result of tirelessly generating, sharing, and exploring ideas. Often times that exploration will make you feel dumb, but as Mikula writes: “It’s okay to be dumb. It’s hard to be smart all the time.”