I know what you’re thinking. How can there be such a thing as too much inspiration, especially when working in a creative industry? Isn’t inspiration our lifeline? Don’t creatives live for that eureka moment when they figure out how to solve all their problems? Well, in short, yes, we do, and inspiration is a very important step in our process. However, in my experience, looking for too much inspiration can actually cause more harm than good. Let me explain…[/intro]
You’re using it as a crutch
Admit it. You’ve used looking for inspiration as an excuse to procrastinate and put off getting started with the actual work. We’re all guilty of it, whether it’s because of the dreaded impostor syndrome or because we just don’t know where to begin. Inspiration is key to doing great work, but it can hold us back from moving forward with a task.
I’m not saying you should stop looking for inspiration all together, you just need to know when to use it and when to stop. Consider starting your project without looking at inspiration and leave it for when you get stuck. Use it to get out of a rut. Then, once you get your dose, put it away to avoid stunting your own creativity or unintentionally copying someone else’s work.
It’s diluting your objectives and goals
No matter what your project is, it will require a workflow — a sequence of phases where certain tasks and information are gathered and accomplished. Usually, this starts with establishing goals and is followed by sourcing inspiration from similar projects and previous successes. From there, we move on to drafts, approvals, and so on.
Unfortunately, we can get wrapped up in the inspiration phase to the point where we never get out of it, even when we’ve moved on to the next phase. If you stay open to inspiration through the duration of a project, you’ll be tempted to add new looks to the direction you’ve already established. Next thing you know, your project has become a mess of mismatched ideas and it turns into Frankenstein. If you don’t leave inspiration in the inspiration phase, you’ll dilute your original ideas and stray from your main objectives.
You’re looking in the wrong places
Sometimes, we mistake inspiration with examples of what we’re looking to achieve. For instance, if you’re working on a website, whether it’s for design or copy, I’m sure your first instinct is to jump on Google and check out other websites. This is fine, but what about researching the industry instead? Or analyzing your customers? Where do they use their products? Why do they use their products? Try using these resources and ideas to come up with unique solutions before you look to replicate what someone else did.
Try digging deeper. Get up from your computer, look through books, talk to team members, or try being bored. You’d be surprised how you can spark an idea without using Pinterest.
As clichè as it might sound, inspiration is supposed to find us, not the other way around. So focus on your objectives, get back to your workflow, and let inspiration find you.