Any kind of art, be it writing, music, or painting, thrives on routine. When I fall into a pattern of everyday habits, boy, am I productive. I get stuff done, I accomplish tasks, I pound out word counts, and I keep the ice cube tray filled. But too much routine can eventually turn your brain to mush, and it’s important to shake yourself up every once in a while.
There are many ways to do this, but one of the best ways is to take a trip, no matter how short. Just getting away from your familiar haunts can wake you up in a powerful way. Here are seven ways that you can use travel (or shorter excursions from home) to spark your creativity.
1. Do something out of the ordinary. Get lost in a city, talk to homeless people, hike a dangerous trail, make pancakes without a recipe (believe me, this was a big deal when I first did it). Use a trip as an excuse to do something you wouldn’t normally do, which will stimulate you in new ways.
|"Here I am in 'The Shakespeare Garden.' |
I am totally waxing poetic right now."
2. Read a book. Travel is a great time to read that book (or two or three) that you haven’t gotten around to in your everyday life. Reading or listening to a good book will always stimulate your mind, no matter your art form.
3. Immerse yourself in something unfamiliar. Growing up in the conservative Midwest, I had never spent a significant amount of time with hardcore politically-liberal people before the autumn of 2010. Two weeks of picking blueberries with amazing crazy hippies shook up my world and made me think about the liberal perspective in a whole new way. These experiences will make you a more well-rounded person, which then makes you a better artist.
|I drew this in Florida.|
4. Sightsee purposefully. Don’t just rush through the sights because you have to— choose which ones really interest you and spend some time with them. It doesn’t matter if everyone tells you to go to the Golden Gate Bridge: if you want to spend the whole day at Alcatraz, then spend the whole day at Alcatraz. (Or, in my case, vice versa.)
5. Talk to people. People are the best inspiration of all, and you can meet some pretty awesome/crazy/crazy-awesome people on the road! If you’re unsure how to engage people, try these tips.
6. Engage in a different creative form. I’m a writer, so when I traveled, I drew a lot and played music wherever I could find a piano. A different art form engages your brain in a new and powerful way.
7. Let your mind rest. When I’m at home, I’m constantly thinking of my to-do list. A trip gives you permission to take a break from all that. Don’t worry about the things you need to do. And don’t fry your brain with Facebook, either— learn to spend time without the noise. It’s amazing what kinds of creativity can spring forth in the midst of silence.