Input vs output: the key to creativity

Input vs output: the key to creativity

Last month I talked about how important creativity is to our happiness – that being able to use our imaginations to bring an idea to life is part and parcel of being a human. Now, this is all well and good, but…

… What happens when we find ourselves in a creative rut? How can we get inspired again?

This is what I want to talk about today. As you’ll know if you read that post about creativity, I’ve been exploring my creative side on Instagram with more styled images.

Through this little journey I listened to a podcast that discussed the idea of input vs output when it comes to creative work (I wish I could remember which one, but alas I can’t. It was a while ago and I listen to very similarly themed podcasts these days, doh!).

Input vs output

Whether you have to be creative in your day job or have a creative project/hobby on the side, the work you do on this is your output. So that’s sitting down with your tool of choice (camera, laptop, knitting needle, whatever) and actually doing the work.

What you do outside of this work – sitting in a park, listening to music, meeting friends, visiting new places, generally living LIFE – is your input.

Maintaining this balance and taking time for ‘input’ is, I think, the best way to keep your creative batteries charged.

I know it can be difficult and if you have a creative job taking time to go sit in a park may feel like you’re slacking off, but it may be exactly what you need to go back to your desk and make magic happen.

Ideas to recharge your creative batteries

  • find somewhere beautiful to sit (take a notepad)
  • listen to some music that makes your soul sing
  • read some poetry
  • visit a new town and go exploring
  • go to the cinema watch a genre of movie you would never normally go for
  • cook a new recipe
  • meet friends for coffee and avoid work-chat
  • take yourself out for lunch

Finding inspiration

Sometimes, even when we’ve nailed the input-output balance, new ideas seem completely elusive. When this happens to me with taking photos, there’s a few resources I fall back on…


I must admit I’ve been neglecting my little Pinterest account recently, but it is a fantastic resource for inspiration, whether it’s the images themselves that inspire you or thought provoking articles.


This one probably only applies to those working in photography/visual art, but Instagram is a great place to find inspiration. I go through my favourite people to follow on Instagram and bookmark any images that I particularly like.

When I’m next stuck for ideas I’ll look through them and think about what I like about them (the simplicity, the light, the feel) and try to interpret it in my own way.

Now, this doesn’t mean outrightly copying someone else’s photo (not cool people) but figuring out what it is about it you like and seeing how you can translate that using your own style.


You guys know I love a good podcast – you get to listen to inspiring conversations and motivational monologues all while doing your nails/having a bath/working out/doing your make-up.

I’ll have to do another ‘podcasts to inspire‘ post soon as I definitely have some new favourites!


Read, read, read! There’s interesting perspectives all over the place, but be mindful of what content you consume and remember to take everything with a pinch of salt – what works for one person may not work for you.

Feeling suitably inspired yet? Remember – check your input-output balance, actively search for inspiration, and… go create!

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Input vs output - the key to creativity

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