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The other day I went on a run in one of the most wonderful rains, which is a rare treat this time of year in Florida. It rains just about every day here during the summer, but we get storms, lightning and hail, not nice gentle showers. And I was thinking, as I am apt to do on a long run, that I find running in the rain very inspirational. I know it sounds cliche, but I feel like the rain literally helps cleanse my mind; I can visualize stress dripping away in the cool water. When I run in the rain the whole world can disappear until it is just me, my thoughts and the awesomely refreshing rain.

We all have things that inspire us or help us work though the creative process. And we all get stuck. I mean as a designer, there are only so many ways you can put shapes on a page, and sometimes I feel like I’ve done them all. I’m reminded of an old Scientific American Mind article that discussed “burnout” (I’d love to link to it, but they seem to be subscription only…) According to the article, burnout can go from mildly irritating fatigue and lack of creativity to a serious health problem in some people. They suggest a burnout cycle that begins with a compulsion to prove oneself, an intense drive to work while neglecting needs and friendships, lack of new ideas, emptiness and eventually health problems or depression.

So how do we break this cycle? How do we stay creative? Well, that’s actually pretty personal. Everyone has their ways of finding inspiration or getting that perfect idea to come. Some people can sit right down and start sketching a logo or layout immediately. Others, like myself, have to let it knock around in our heads for awhile. I like to do things wholly unrelated to the thing I am working on. I exercise; I run, I cycle, I do spin classes at the gym. I go on walks to get inspired by nature; I like my designs to reflect natural patterns and shapes. I also like to find inspiration in bookstores and libraries. I think there is a good energy there, and I feel inspired just being surrounded by all that knowledge. I talk to people, sometimes about the project, but usually about other things while I let that problem sit in my subconscious for a little while.

As a graphic designer, I know we all have to deal with deadlines, and we can’t always take time out of our days to do some of these things. But I find that even doing them in my off time can help. I also know you don’t have to work in a “creative field” to be creative. You can get inspiration to do things in new ways at any job, just as you can feel burnout in any job as well. And I know all you Oddpodz out there have your own tricks for creative inspiration. So what inspires you?