Feeling Uninspired? 10 Things You Should Try to Get Your Spark Back

Sometimes you’re feeling your creativity flow, and other times it seems like all you can do is lay in bed and avoid your emails. As a 20-something graduate student who works in the advertising/PR industry, I can relate. And believe it or not, “more coffee” isn’t always the answer…(just most of the time).

The Caffeinated Californian logo features a lightning bolt for two reasons: (1) It’s a nod to that jolt of energy you get from caffeine, and (2) It evokes the feeling of inspiration. I want to energize and inspire my readers, not just from coffee advice, but also from a serious place of knowledge and creativity.

Also (3) I love David Bowie.

All that said, I’m excited to finally write this post, because I’ve been in a bit of a rut for the past couple weeks. Grad school is no joke, and when I’m buried underneath a pile of papers to write, it’s hard to spend time on my creative outlets. I was spending way too much time watching Gossip Girl on repeat and playing Diner Dash on my phone at 1 a.m. Seriously.

Finally, after a spontaneous road trip to Colorado and some free time to sleep for once, I got my mojo back, and I’m here to help you find yours. Let’s get to it!

1. Give yourself a break.

This morning, I slept in until 11, which always makes me feel like a useless blob, but I’ve learned that you can’t beat yourself up too much for listening to your body and doing what you need to do. Cut yourself some slack and accept that it’s okay to feel less than okay. If you spend your relaxation time feeling guilty about relaxing, it doesn’t help anything. Take a break, maybe even a whole day off. Perfectly okay.

2. Do something for someone else.

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When your work is bogging you down, it’s time to stop and redirect your attention to someone or something else that deserves your focus. When was the last time you sent a thank you note (other than for a job interview or recommendation letter)? When was the last time you complimented a friend (other than on their Instagram post)? I’m guilty of focusing too much on my work and not enough on the people and causes I care about.

We all know the whole “What goes around, comes around” mantra, and we know that doing good things = feeling good about yourself. But I’m still amazed every time all over again how much of a difference it makes in my outlook on everything. When you know you’ve made a positive impact, it comes right back and makes a positive impact on your attitude.

3. Get your thoughts out of your head and into the physical world.

If you’re a writer, start drawing on a whiteboard or easel. If you’re a dancer, stop watching choreography videos on YouTube and start dancing in the studio. Whatever it takes to get ideas into the tangible, tactile world– even if you’re just doodling or striking a pose on the yoga mat. Studies have shown that getting off your computer and getting onto a notebook can make a huge difference. Sometimes, I even start my blog posts by jotting ideas in a notepad.

Side note: My favorite phrase in grad school is “studies have shown.” So vague, and so authoritative at the same time. Everyone just accepts it. It’s magical.

4. Give yourself a beauty treatment.

This one is a pretty typical piece of advice that I give out, and sounds like such a superficial, temporary solution. But this is not the time for making major lifestyle changes. This is a rut. And with ruts, the small steps are what matter. A manicure or facial, or even a ridiculously hot shower, are all things that seem doable when all you want to do is sit in bed.

5. Plan something fun.

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As important as it is to live in the now, getting excited about something in the future can be a powerful way to jump-start your positive energy. The holidays are coming up, and it’s an ideal time for fun get-togethers or getaways. Plan a friendsgiving, or a birthday, or even a weekend vacation. Bonus: You’ll still feel like you did something productive!

6. Connect with someone who inspires you.

For me, it can be one of my professors, a past career mentor, or a trusted older friend. It could be someone you know, or someone you found on LinkedIn. Reaching out can feel kinda scary, but it’s so incredibly worth it when you get crazy good advice. You’ll also be surprised how willing (and even excited) people are to offer their perspective.

I spent today sitting in my living room in my sweats and searching for potential people to reach out for career advice. But guess what? I was networking. Who else can say they were networking on a Friday afternoon with Gossip Girl on in the background?

7. Learn something new.

We live in the age of Google and YouTube, where you can develop basically any new skill you want from the comfort of your bed. This is particularly useful when you’re feeling like a slug and don’t have the motivation to get out of bed. Google Analytics, for example, offers free certifications. Obviously this is on the nerd side, which isn’t everyone’s style, so yoga classes and cooking recipes count too. It can be a beauty tutorial, for all I care. Life skills, people!

8. Create a “smile file” for a self-boost.

I picked up on this tip when I interned at a big PR agency and got overly stressed out every day. Sometimes you feel like you fail ten times a day, and during those times, it’s hard not to feel like you’re doing the wrong thing or you’re in the wrong city or have the wrong career. During these times, you need reminders that you’re killing it, and this is where a smile file is handy: Keep a file on your laptop or in your email (or even a physical folder) with things you’re proud of. Maybe it’s an email from your supervisor telling you that you did a good job on something. It can be a project you enjoyed, a huge challenge you overcame, positive feedback from a customer, or anything else that makes you feel great.

9. Make a vision board or gallery wall.

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I don’t mean on Pinterest. I mean go to Target, get a corkboard and some magazines, and go to town. You might be in a rut because you’re having trouble visualizing a lifestyle that inspires you. Or, if you have a creative project you’ve been struggling with (for me, it’s my master’s thesis), make a vision board specifically for that project. Putting together images that inspire you can help you see for yourself what direction to take.

10. Go outside.

The simple action of leaving your apartment can work wonders. A five-minute walk around your neighborhood, a park, the mall, or your college campus might make a world of difference in helping you feel refreshed and motivated. Even if it’s just a coffee run. One small step for Starbucks, one giant leap for your creative well-being.


What do you do when you’re feeling stuck? Let me know if you have any tricks or tips!

XO,

CC

Everyday Inspiration: 100 places to get ideas

Whenever someone asks me, “What inspires you?” I tell them literally everything. Which isn’t super helpful, I realize, but here’s the trick: I look for inspiration in the daily, everyday moments that would normally go unnoticed.

Of course, it’s obviously important to seek out new experiences. I love a good Lollapalooza weekend, or a hike in the Grand Canyon. But you don’t always need a life-changing adventure. Sometimes, nothing sparks the mind like a five-minute walk. Or an ice cream flavor. Or the country music coming from the bar next door. The packaging of a makeup product. The mall. The gym. The bubbles in your bath…or your champagne! When you keep your eyes open to the ordinary, the ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. And there’s your inspiration.

When you keep your eyes open to the ordinary, the ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. And there’s your inspiration.

To get you started on finding your extraordinary in the ordinary, I’ve listed a whopping 100 sources of inspiration you can probably find across the street or even your own room. Now you have no excuses. Deep breath, here we go:

100 Places to Find Everyday Inspo

  1. The shower

  2. Live music

  3. A new neighborhood

  4. Tequila

  5. Magazines

  6. Museums

  7. Dreams (day or night)

  8. Art galleries victor-lozano-227612

  9. Documentaries

  10. Horror movies

  11. Rom coms (with life lessons of course)

  12. Comedy clubs

  13. The library

  14. The gym

  15. Plane flights

  16. Road trips

  17. Full Kanye West albums

  18. Full Beatles albums

  19. Full Pink Floyd albums

  20. Full Daft Punk albums

  21. Chinatown mariano-rossi-330641

  22. The mall

  23. The toilet

  24. The elevator

  25. The laundromat

  26. Yoga class

  27. Beauty products freestocks-org-209882.jpg

  28. The weird part of YouTube

  29. Reading the entire Harry Potter series from the beginning as an adult

  30. TED talks

  31. Listening to a new music genre

  32. Farmer’s markets

  33. Flowers ornella-binni-106373

  34. Architecture

  35. A walk around the block

  36. The Food Network

  37. The fancy stationery store

  38. The zoo katie-treadway-253591

  39. Bath and Body Works

  40. Free People catalogues

  41. Netflix musicals (try Chicago, personal fave)

  42. Community theater musicals

  43. Broadway musicals

  44. High School Musical

  45. Spotify

  46. The ocean anastasia-taioglou-244880

  47. The lake

  48. The pool

  49. The bathtub…anywhere with water is good

  50. Champagne

  51. Champagne. IN the bathtub. Double whammy. You’ll be writing novels in no time.

  52. A frat party

  53. Pizza. Pizza is always inspirational.

  54. Donuts. See above rationale for pizza. bethany-newman-61417

  55. Starbucks, obviously

  56. A blank canvas

  57. Whatever new Urban Decay Naked palette is out

  58. Gossip Girl

  59. A globe andrew-neel-182861

  60. Pottery Barn catalogues

  61. The park

  62. Football games

  63. Disney movies

  64. Fashion shows

  65. Windows jonatan-pie-235783

  66. New restaurants

  67. A blank notebook

  68. Canned soup (hey, it worked for Warhol)

  69. Pinterest quotes

  70. Dance class

  71. A new shade of lipstick ian-dooley-298769

  72. Lightning bolts (the inspo for my logo)!

  73. Pilates

  74. Old cookbooks

  75. Old books in general (Tip: Visit one of those tiny bookstores with vintage books.)

  76. Mexican restaurants

  77. Antique stores

  78. Flea markets

  79. Candy stores delfi-de-la-rua-133880.jpg

  80. Little Italy

  81. Walmart

  82. Reddit

  83. The self-help section of Barnes and Noble

  84. The classics section, if feeling ambitious john-mark-kuznietsov-266552

  85. The aquarium

  86. Bike rides

  87. Driving along the coast

  88. Driving through cornfields, if in Midwest and cannot access coast

  89. Corn mazes!

  90. Carnivals hannah-morgan-95342

  91. Haunted houses

  92. Roller coasters

  93. Horse races

  94. Casinos

  95. Your closet

  96. 24 hour diners dani-king-261235

  97. Trains

  98. Candles

  99. Cameras

  100. Coffee shops…naturally…

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Whew! So much inspiration, so little time…better get cracking and start appreciating your Walmart!

XO,

CC

Just your type: 5 steps to getting over writer’s block

I have this theory: If you have something to say, it should be easy to say it.

How many of you have found yourself staring at a blank Word document page with an equally blank brain? If you tell me you’ve never typed your name and spent the next 30 minutes online shopping, I’d like to know your secret.

Why does this happen? When we sit down to write, we have work to do. Maybe it’s a press release or a pitch, for us PR peeps. Maybe it’s a research paper. Maybe it’s a blog post. Maybe it’s even just a thank-you note or a text. Worst of all: an Instagram caption.

Those really are the worst.

Here’s the thing. We all have a job to do and something to say. So I think writer’s block is totally made up. Just like most of everything else in our heads, writer’s block is a mentality that you can change, whether you’re writing a novel, cover letter, skywriting, or the dreaded Instagram caption that just won’t pop into your head like it should.

5 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block, Which Is Completely In Your Head

  1. Get your facts first. If you’re writing a research report, do the actual research. If you’re pitching a product, write down the product details. Before you even dive into the daunting blank page, you’ll be armed with the info.
  2. Figure out what you actually want to say by making an outline. I know this seems obvious, but it isn’t. It’s so tempting to jump right in and go bombs away banging on the keyboard, and if that works for you, great. If not, you need a road map. Make bullet points of the ideas you have, and try using a regular pen and paper– writing things by hand can make it more real and less terrifying.
  3. Step away from the situation. Take a lap around the library or go on a Starbucks run– the fresh air, physical activity, and caffeine do wonders for your perspective. When you take time off from something, you come back with a clearer head. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET TO PROCRASTINATE. I say this because I use “clearing my head” as an excuse to get margaritas with my friends.
  4. Draw inspiration from unexpected places. Go ahead and go on Spotify, but let it be your source of inspiration. Read The New Yorker. Watch a football game. Just don’t watch Netflix. It’s a trap.
  5. Find your confidence. Start small, do things in chunks, and don’t worry about whether you’re writing complete crudballs. Easier said than done, but how are you supposed to write anything if you’re always worried about it being good? Accept that you aren’t perfect, and then it will be easier to be great.

Again for emphasis:

Accept that you aren’t perfect, and then it will be easier to be great.

XO,

A