"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
– John Muir
We creative folks spend far too much time glued to screens, building Pinterest boards, or gawking at portfolio sites. Yes, you. And me, too.
I know you've heard that criticism before.
Yet your creative beast is still waiting to be fully unleashed...
There is value in admiring and appreciating others' work—I love when someone's craft brings a smile to my face. But many of us assume that browsing others' creations is a proper warm up for our own projects. That might be helpful, to a limited point, if the creations are shown in context, illuminating the communication objectives. Unfortunately, context is rarely offered. It's not information that most of us have time (or interest) to gather, write and upload.
If we're seeking inspiration, there's a deeper problem when the source is someone else's creative work. In addition to lacking context, it's someone else's imagination, influenced by their own experiences and agendas, rendered through a proprietary process, executed to a style (which is hopefully on target). We can certainly value the work as a finished creation, but it's ability to nourish your creative beast is limited.
What I'm suggesting is this:
Your imagination can't be fully unleashed by staring at—or sharing—someone else's creation.
You must go. Get out of your comfort zone, as cliché as that might sound. After all, unleashing your imagination is rarely about comfort. The best fuel for feeding and unleashing your lovely, fierce beast of an imagination is found beyond books and screens.
It's found in the wildness, in things that scare you.
It's found in things you can smell and taste.
It's found in traveling to a place your government says is "risky."
Or exploring anywhere unfamiliar.
It's found in experiences that leave you gasping for breath because you left your heart on the course. Shivering with fear and wondering Why.
Maybe your first step is finishing this journal post and taking a bike ride in your 'hood. Swap your phone for a notebook. Leave your camera behind, too (a challenge for me). Or get rad and leave the notebook behind, too. Simply immerse yourself.
Outside of your comfort zone are the raw materials that shape you and deeply redefine your perspective of the world. They fill your tofu-textured brain bucket with tangible, powerful stuff that will strengthen you and serve your imagination again and again. Real life stuff. Imagine that.