Sometimes the harder you work, the worse the quality of what you actually produce becomes. It might not seem logical, but creativity seldom is. Some creatives need inspiration, engagement with the world, and the occasional breath of fresh culture to produce quality work. One way to change your scene dramatically and completely, even if only for a short while, is with a road trip. Besides, what better excuse can there be to pick up one of our lovely Wombat Rucksacks and hit the road?
But you can’t expect inspiration from just any drive out of town! Here are seven tips to getting the best possible creative charge out of your journey:
1) Plan, but do not over-plan
It will help you immensely to have a series of goals for your trip – things you want to see, people you want to spend time with, places you want to ‘get a feel for’. Let’s face it, we live on a fairly small island. You can drive from one coast to the other between breakfast and tea – sooner if you start farther north. A handful of specific goals will give your trip a structure – a narrative, of you will. Something to really hang some experiences and maybe even adventures upon.
However, don’t make yourself a slave to an itinerary! If the entire journey is just a mad dash from point A to B to C in the most efficient manner, you’ll never see anything but the motorway, and never really experience any of the places you pass through at blink-and-you-missed-it speeds. A list of goals and a commitment not to worry about getting to C until you’ve had your fill of B will do you much more good, and be massively less stressful!
2) Collaborate, Share and Talk to the People You Meet
This can be much easier when you are travelling with a friend (or accomplice), but it can be even more rewarding to break through the barriers of awkwardness to connect with people you have never met before on a creative level. Think about what your project could mean to them, and ask them what they might think about this or that idea.
Think of it as a combination of brainstorming and informal, very personal market research. Your medium, your methods and even tour target audience don’t matter. Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, and with the help of the least likely people!
3) Find, and Cling to, your Authenticity
Spend some time in new environments thinking about what your project is meant to be, what it is meant to do, and whether that is ‘real’ on a brutally authentic level. Is your creativity being compromised? Is there anything preventing your project from becoming what it ‘wants’ to be? Are you yourself forcing it into a mould or a shape that isn’t ‘true’ to its nature?
Getting out in the world and away from your normal limits and influences can let your project spread its wings in its own authentic fashion. It might not be good, but at least it will be authentic. It is much easier to make a ‘real’ project good than to make a ‘good’ one real.
4) Embrace Failures, But Not ‘Failure’
A journey gives you massive potential to try new things in new ways. This is fertile soil for creative seeds, but the world is a cruel place, as well as a fertile one. Many of your experiments, whether they be words, pictures or only ideas, will fail. Many will, frankly, be a bit crap.
But that is a good thing! One has to kiss quite a few frogs before one finds a prince! Don’t linger over your failures. Throw your colourful Prime Hide Crossbody bag over your shoulder, and try something new!
5) Stop and Smell the Flowers
Not literally, though if you travel in the spring, that is a lovely thing to do whilst exploring twee little villages. I mean that you should not spend every minute thinking about your project. That ‘feels too much like work’, and probably isn’t what you need to feel creative. Enjoy what you are doing. Don’t think terribly hard about it, and the ideas will come. If you catch yourself wondering why they haven’t, you’re doing it wrong.
6) A Good Journey is at Least as Important as the Destination
That’s the thing about adventures. You might not end up where you thought you were going! Some of us have an absolute horror of the unexpected, of our entire day or week spinning off in some wild new direction after some chance encounter or strange idea. But that is what adventures are! Unexpected. Quirky. Even prone to failure. But no one will ever ask to hear the story of the time you drove to Wales and nothing unusual happened.
Creativity comes from embracing a little bit of odd. Just a little, mind you. You did take this trip to achieve something. Just don’t forget that your real goal has nothing to do with a point on a map!
7) Lastly, Accessorise!
The key to tapping in to all that creativity you generate on the road will be bringing just enough of your work with you. If you’re like me and work best with a few real paper notebooks and ball point pens, a good messenger bag or briefcase is just what you need to note or sketch those ideas down before they disappear forever.
VOOC Urban Unisex Leather Messenger Bag
On the other hand, a thoroughly modern all-digital creative would do better with a netbook bag or a more stylish laptop bag.
vintage Rustic Brown Leather Laptop MacBook Bag with a Pocket for E-Readers
No matter what you use to keep the tools of your trade close to hand, make sure you have everything you need to strike while the iron of inspiration is hot! There is nothing more soul-destroying than having the perfect idea – the one that you are sure will light your way for months or years – only to forget the best parts when you get ‘back to work’ on Monday like a dream upon waking. Being properly prepared might not make your ideas better, but it will make sure fewer of them are lost.