One common thread among successful people is that they’ve all been inspired in some way or another. I know that when I created Blue’s Clues, it was my brother, who is 14 years younger than me, who served as my inspiration. When he was six, I saw him physically reacting to a somewhat aggressive show he was watching. So I thought, why not harness that interactive power, but in a positive way? Hence, Blue’s Clues. And when The Fred Rogers Company asked that my team and I create the follow-up to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, what better inspiration than Fred himself? If I couldn’t find inspiration through his helpful ways and pleasant demeanor, I think I would’ve changed careers!
Of course, you don’t have to have a major project on your to-do list to find inspiration. In fact, for many creative people, finding inspiration is almost a routine part of their day. Unfortunately, though, too many people go about their day un-inspired, simply moving from task to task, watching the clock tick away in apathy. Life should involve pleasure, enjoyment and excitement—and finding something that inspires you each day can help you live that kind of life.
To me, inspiration is almost a heightened sense of awareness, where you get lost in your feelings and can spontaneously react to them in some way or another. T. S. Elliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” So, let the process take you to that unknown place. Some days are definitely easier than others to allow yourself to get swept away, but if you typically struggle to find inspiration, here are a few ways to find it:
Brush up on current events. If you read or see something that arises a strong emotion within you, get it out! Harness that idea or opinion in a positive way. For example, I was honestly tired of all the bipartisanship I’ve been reading so much of in the news lately, so I wrote what seemed to me like an ideal situation into an upcoming episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. In the episode, we discuss voting and illustrate different groups working together regardless of the outcome of the vote.
Look to friends and loved ones. Tap into the feelings that you get from the special people in your life to create something personal. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of great works of art were inspired by amore. As I mentioned earlier, my first draft of Blue’s Clues was essentially a way for me to give someone I loved dearly, my brother, the tools and lessons that would truly benefit him in life.
Appreciate the arts. Speaking of art, if music, dance or studio art speak to you, expose yourself to it more often. The beauty, the rhythm, the colors can inspire you to create your own masterpiece. Even if you can’t draw a straight line (which I honestly can’t), bring a small sketchbook to an art show or museum and simply doodle—you’ll be surprised at what unconsciously emerges!
Turn to religion. If you’re a religious person, what better muse to inspire incredible thoughts and actions? If you find a certain strength from going to church, then attend services or various functions held by the church. If a Gregorian chant mentally takes you to a safer, more pleasant place, by all means add it to your playlist.
Get active. Being in tune with and focusing on your body allows you to hear what it has to say. If your body feels good, there’s a definite correlation to how your head feels as well, all contributing to an inspirational frame of mind. Perhaps it’s the effect of allowing more oxygen into the brain, which also allows you to think more clearly after you have physically pushed your body.
Grab a pen. Spontaneously writing in your own private journal allows you to process and reflect on much of what’s going on inside you. Even if you’re not a professional writer, it is a most freeing feeling to get it all down on paper. Many go about their day on auto-pilot, repeating their daily activities without reflecting upon them. This writing will allow you to put your ideas, dreams or desires in front of you in a much clearer fashion, inspiring you to actually obtain them. I have journals and mini notebooks all over my house and office with notes scribbled throughout, as this really helps me with an inspirational game plan going forward. And after a project or episode is complete, what better motivation for me to create the next one than seeing the joyful reaction of children all over the globe after seeing the fruits of my labor?
Whatever your passion might be, get lost within it. It feels great, and you’ll love the outcome!