Writers, entrepreneurs, and other creative types have their own methods of nurturing creativity. Mine always begin with a question: “What if… ” Aside from the usual place (in the bathtub surrounded by bubbles), I began to think: What inspires creativity? And, how can we conjure more creativity?

Consider the world of reading. We’ve all read thrillers that grabbed us by the throat, or romances that stole our hearts. The keep-you-up-all-night books that you can’t get out of your mind. Every one of these stories began with the seed of an idea.

So, I thought I’d share a little about how I channel my creative muse. Here are eight methods I often use to conjure creativity:

1. Unplugging

If my mind is too cluttered, there’s no room for creative thinking. Unplug from social media, get up from the computer, go for a walk, send calls to voice mail. I enjoy a long walk to delve into ideas, but even a short stroll can clear the mind.

2. Communing with Nature

When I’m really stumped, I turn to Mother Nature by taking a walk, listening to birds, or watching the rhythm of the ocean. Gardening is another passion; ideas often rise to the surface when I’m elbow deep in dirt or pruning roses. The warmth of the sun and the aromas from flowers and plants often leads to inspiration, too.

3. A World of Reading

Reading across a variety of genres stimulates the imagination. News topics might also provide a starting point. In fact, part of the early inspiration for one of my novels came from a newspaper story I’d read about families who were separated during World War II.

4. Art Appreciation

Recharge creative batteries by seeking out other forms of artistic expression. For instance, I love to wander through art galleries, and always feel creatively energized afterward.

5. Get Physical

Physical exercise is excellent for clearing out mental cobwebs. Be sure to do what’s fun. For me, it might be swimming or dancing, biking or snow skiing, or practicing pilates or yoga. Mixing up muscle movement keeps exercise fresh, and improves mental clarity.

6. Nocturnal Thoughts

Inspiration often treads on silent feet in the dark of night. I keep a notepad on my nightstand, and often scribble thoughts that lead to breakthroughs. Or, early in the morning, in that quiet space between sleep and wakefulness when the mind finds dreaming natural, I’ll turn my thoughts to my story line or other issue.

7. Tiny Bubbles

A long soak in a warm tub is a must for my creative muse. Add music, candles, wine-whatever strikes your fancy. Personally, I’m hooked on bubbles-the more the merrier. Bubbles, like snow, muffle the outside world, giving creativity space to grow. Sore muscles? Pour on the bath salts.

8. Go Travel, Get Lost

If the day-to-day grind is dragging you down, take a mini-break or a longer walk-about. Travel clears the mind and opens the eyes to other ways of living. The benefits of travel are intangible, but real.

9. Set the Scene

Create an environment conducive to creativity. Pots of tea, instrumental music, pleasing aromas-these are the basic necessities for my writing or creative development sessions. Out of this can come natural, authentic opportunities for engagement and promotion.

For example, when writing a novel based on the perfume industry, I tried to recreate the period of time covered the book, which is 1939 to 1947. I have a professional background in the fragrance business, so I immersed myself in vintage perfume history, surrounding myself with fragrances that were available during the time period-all from my personal collection. From Shalimar to Mitsouko, Normandie to Narcisse Noir, these perfumes reflect the artistry of the period, and helped me conjure the mood for my novel, A Promise of Roses. Afterward, I created a vintage perfume list and used this in my promotion. Writers and artists can share these types of creative muses with their followers to more fully engage them in the behind-the-scenes process.

Other period research included wartime history, video and audio recordings, fashion, music, and female entrepreneurs. I spoke to people who had lived through the time period. My mother shared memories of daily details of life, such as rationing. Not every fact made it into the book, of course, but the immersion provided inspiration, helping to create an authentic world. Again, share your creative research; if you found it fascinating, others will, too.

These techniques are not restricted to writers-anyone can use these methods to call the muse, enhance creativity, and engage with followers.

Why not take a moment to think about what inspires you? What do you do to engage your creativity?


About Jan Moran

Jan Moran is a St. Martin’s Press author and serial entrepreneur. A Harvard MBA, she advises authors and entrepreneurs about best practices and tools. She created Scentsa, an in-store touch-screen fragrance, skincare, and cosmetic finder for Sephora and DFS stores worldwide, and sold it to Sephora in 2013. Jan shares her journey in publishing and entrepreneurship on her blog, at http://www.janmoranwrites.com. To learn about her latest books and projects, visit her website.