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101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself
Multicultural Muses : 101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself

How to Be Your Own Best Muse

101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself (1-50)

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers

I recently quit my dead-end day job to pursue the freelance writing career of my dreams. It's been an interesting journey so far, filled with mis-steps and fumblings towards abundance, and the ecstasy of creation. I'm enjoying it to the fullest, but even the most creative soul has an off day. Learning to inspire yourself and be your own best muse at a time like this is crucial. Here are some of my best strategies for getting my creative juices flowing…

1. Blow bubbles in your backyard.

2. Lie back in the grass and watch the clouds roll past.

3. Roll down a hill, then do it again and again until you're dizzy.

4. Draw silly pictures and print hopscotch grids and poems on the sidewalk with chalk all over your neighborhood.

5. Write a spontaneous haiku — just jot down the first seventeen syllables that pop into your mind.

6. Take a walk.

7. Make friends with someone new.

8. Call someone interesting and invite them out for coffee.

9. Go fly a kite.

10. Find a park or playground and play outside. How long has it been since you were on a slide? It's fun, even if you feel a little silly and awkward at first.

11. Learn a new joke and tell it to three people, then write it down as part of a scene in a story.

12. Dance in the rain.

13. Go barefoot in the grass.

14. Try to go a whole day without talking. Instead, write down what you want to say.

15. Wander through your favorite gallery until inspiration finds you. When you see an interesting painting or sculpture, write a poem or story about it.

16. Go book-surfing at a library or bookstore. Write a question in your writer's notebook. Hold the question in your mind, walking through the stacks, and then open a book at random. The first phrase your eye alights on is the answer. (I can spend hours doing this.)

17. Take a long nap.

18. Where are you when inspiration finds you? If you get your best ideas while driving, try taking a long scenic drive. Take along a mini-recorder, or call yourself and leave a voicemail if you get an idea along the way.

19. When all else fails, try a long, hot shower. It seems like I'm always in the shower when the Muses come calling. They have a funny sense of humor, and I'm sure it amuses them to see me scrambling to dry off and get to a notebook. Not being able to write an idea down because I have shampoo in my eyes is sure to spawn inspiration.

Photos © Molly Anderson-Childers20. Take a bubble-bath with your favorite book. Keep a notebook at hand for any unexpected inspirations. See an inspiring quote or a great line? Write it down and use it to inform your own work.

21. Make a writing date with a friend and keep it. Accountability can light a fire under your butt like nothing else.

22. Join a writers' group.

23. Can't find a writers' group that's a good fit? Start one!

24. Give yourself a deadline to produce a certain word count or finish a project, and stick to it.

25. Take fabulous care of yourself — as I've said in a recent article, you can't give water from an empty well.

26. For one week, treat writing like a job. Show up at the same time, consistently, to meet the Muses. Don't stop writing until you've done at least 100 words. Free-write. Don't worry about making sense — just get your hand moving.

27. Try reverse psychology. Forbid yourself to write anything more creative than a grocery list for a few days. Soon, you'll be full of ideas, and chafing with impatience to write.

28. Get out of the house. Walk the dog, take a drive, run some errands — just take a break and come back to your project with a fresh perspective.

29. Try writing under a tree, on a park bench, in your favorite coffee-shop. Often, a change of scene can imbue your work with juicy creative energy.

30. Just can't seem to get your heart into your new painting? Shift gears and work on another creative project. Write a poem instead, and call it a day!

31. Play with clay.

32. Doodle.

33. Play with a slinky, Rubik's Cube, or other toys to limber up your creative muscles and re-connect with your inner ten-year-old.

34. Sing in the shower.

35. Meet another writer for coffee and a chat. Ask her, "What's your favorite way to inspire yourself? How do you deal with writer's block?" No matter how crazy it sounds, take her advice — maybe it'll work for you, too.

36. Shake up your daily routine. Maybe your work isn't getting stale — maybe it's you! It's easy to get into a rut — getting out of it again can be tough. Try something new. Take a risk. Find something you feel excited about and do it, even if it's not directly related to writing. Everything is material — every experience, every mistake, will feed your work.

37. Write inspiring quotes from your favorite writers in your journal, one at the top of each page. Use them as writing prompts and story starters.

38. Read graffiti everywhere you go. Collect it. Write down anything original, funny, or surprising.

39. Take a poem walk. Bring a notebook with you. Write down every word you see. Steal words from bumper-stickers, street-signs, and shop-windows. When you have a few pages full of words to choose from, rearrange them and select the juiciest words for a poem or story.

40. Write upside down, backwards, sideways, or in a spiral.

41. Write in Pig Latin. Or, make up your own secret code!

42. Write with different colors. If you usually use a pen, try a pencil or a crayon today.

43. Write with your non-dominant hand; with your toes; with a pen clamped between your teeth.

44. Play hopscotch.

45. Climb a tree.

46. Baseball can be very meditative — hit a few fly balls, or play a game of catch.

47. Write down your dreams for a month without re-reading them. After a month has passed, peruse your nocturnal scribblings and see if there's anything here you can build on. Can you expand an image you dreamt into a poem, story, or song?

48. Go for a hike, and get out of your head for a while.

49. Create a portable inspiration kit with art supplies, a blank journal, and lots of juicy pens. Carry it everywhere so that you'll be prepared when inspiration strikes.

50. Have an un-birthday party for yourself, and give yourself the gift of inspiration — a new journal, some art supplies- anything to feed your creative soul.

Next: 51-101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself