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Charlyn Gonda
Charlyn Gonda

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How to get inspired (about making things!)

Hello! I've been having fun making things for 12 Months of Makes (as evidenced by the state of my desk pictured above haha), and I figured this post will be dual purpose: give an update about what I've been up to, and answer a question a few friends have expressed.

I've been getting this sentiment from friends quite a bit: "I really want to make something, but I have no idea what to make or where to start finding ideas." Friends, this is a common problem, and you are not alone. Some people try to solve this problem by looking at stuff to buy or buying a bunch of things before they have an idea of what to make. That's one way to go, but I think that if you have a project in mind first before buying a bunch of random stuff, you'll have a better chance of getting motivated to finish. Great news: there are ways to get your creative juices flowing. Here are 5 ways to get through creator's block and get inspired.

1. Look at tutorials

birthday mailbox

This is a great way to get inspired. There are people whose full time job is to inspire you to make things. Let their magic happen. Sometimes you'll find that there's a guide for exactly what you've been wanting to do. And then sometimes, you'll see a project and then think of a twist that'll make it uniquely you. Check out Adafruit's tutorials or anything in Make: magazine. This method is how I made my April make pictured above: a Birthday Mailbox Printer - it was a livestreamed printer that printed out happy birthday tweets, and messages on a thread in my FB page. The messages were heartwarming and people had fun seeing their digital messages become physical paper notes!

2. Bring to life things from your favorite stories

You ever watch a movie, read a book, or play a game and think "I would absolutely live in that world"? The VR/XR revolution is coming, but while we're waiting, you can make replicas of your favorite props today and feel a bit more immersed. How about making BOTW Link's guardian sword++? Or make Hermione's wand that will properly say "wingardium levi-ohh-sah" every time you wave it? Let your love of the story drive your creativity.

3. Make something for your other hobbies

I happen to live in silicon valley, where table tennis is the office sport of choice. I am quite terrible at it. But, I've made things related to it, like this nifty trophy I made a while ago and an online internal office tool to keep track of office team scores. Think about other things you like to do, and what you can make to spice it up. For example, if you like to live stream, here's an interactive cannon you can use to engage your audience in a new way.

4. Create solutions for life’s struggles (big or small)

Instead of buying something to help you get off your strugglebus, why not make one and learn something along the way? Have a pet, and want to be able to check in on them? You can buy a product for that, OR you can choose to make it instead! Here's an Octocam kit from Pimoroni that gets you everything you need. As a bonus, making something yourself usually means you can find a way to fit it to your particular needs/wants. I'd love to see someone hack this camera to throw around a ball or frisbee to play with their pet while they are away.

shop traffic analyzer
It doesn't even have to be your struggles -- for my March make, I made a Shop Traffic Analyzer out of a Raspberry Pi for my friend's shop so that he could track foot traffic through his store over time and plan staffing accordingly.

art wall installation
In the spirit of making not buying, I wanted art on a wall in my new apartment, but needed it to be special and meaningful and also function as a bright light for the dining room. So, for my June make I created this wall art installation to mount instax photos and postcards I collect and receive from around the world. Meets all my criteria, got to use a Dremel for the first time and learned about forstner drill bits. Plus, it's controlled by Google Home. Super satisfying.

5. Make it for other people

platypus team trophy
And last, but definitely not least, I find that the most motivating projects are ones that inject delight into other people's lives. My February make was a Pusheen valentine, and pictured above is my May make, a 3D printed platypus trophy mounted on a hand stained wooden base, made to recognize the hard work of my teammates. These kinds of projects are satisfying because I know I made people I care about happy, plus I improved my skillset in the process.

So there you have it, 5 ways to get inspired to make your own projects. Reading back through this list, I think most or all of it applies to software projects as well πŸ˜„. My last tip is this:

Don't aim for perfection, done is better than perfect.

There will always be a more polished way of making something, and there will always be some better solution out there. Don't let that stop you from rolling up your sleeves and making something. You'll learn new things and build up your skills, and that's incredibly valuable. The experience of making doesn't always have to be about the end product. Get yourself some basic tools, pick one idea that you're excited about, and get to building. If you're looking for a group to share ideas with or make things with, join our FB group Day Coders // Night Makers -- we're excited to help and to be excited with you! :D

And of course, don't forget to share your makes here on! This community is incredibly supportive, I'm so impressed by the excellent team, and I've really been blown away by how inspirational you all are. Keep being awesome, and keep making things!

Is there a project above that you'd like to know more about? Leave a note in the comments below, and I'd be happy to make a separate post about it! PS: I'll be at Github Universe talking about making things, I hope to see you there!

Top comments (11)

ghost profile image

Daughter's been a big inspiration, I'm kind of using her as an excuse to resurrect a few hobbies like electronics. On the weekend we were IKEA hacking to make an extra play house for her hamster. Tonight we'll add straw, plants, toys and tubes etc. to make it less austere!

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charlyn profile image
Charlyn Gonda

OMG that's amazing! What a great reason to resurrect a hobby :D I hope you'll share a photo of the new hamster tenant + young maker :D

ghost profile image

Thanks! At the moment it needs a lot more coziness and some soft floors, but that's coming next. Hamster climbs the ladders in all the wrong ways, so the floors need plenty of padding!

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charlyn profile image
Charlyn Gonda

So good!! Looks like such a fun project πŸŽ‰ thanks for sharing!

ntnunk profile image

Great post! Options 3 and 4 are where I always seem to end up deriving ideas. I'm currently working a "Smart" fan to accompany my indoor bicycle training setup. It's solving a problem (having to get off my bike constantly to turn the high-volume fan up and down as I heat up and cool off) but also adding to the experience of the indoor setup

Thanks for sharing!

ben profile image
Ben Halpern • Edited

6. Read a post from Charlyn!

charlyn profile image
Charlyn Gonda

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ thanks Ben!

thobyv profile image
Thoby V ijishakin

Another great article!

charlyn profile image
Charlyn Gonda

Thank you!!

inspirationalstories profile image
Albert Stevens

Finding inspiration for your website can be a daunting task, especially when you're starting from scratch. However, it's essential to find inspiration so that you can create a website that stands out and engages your audience. Here are some tips to help you find inspiration for your website: Inspirational Stories

Look at your competitors: Take a look at your competitors' websites and see what they're doing. You can get ideas on how to design your website, the kind of content to create, and how to engage with your audience.

Check out other websites in your industry: Check out other websites in your industry, especially those that are doing well. You can get inspiration on how to structure your website, the kind of content to create, and how to market your site.

Use social media: Social media is an excellent source of inspiration for your website. Follow your competitors, influencers, and industry leaders to see what they're doing. You can also use social media to get ideas for your website's content.

Attend industry events: Attend industry events and conferences to learn about the latest trends, technologies, and ideas. You can also network with other professionals in your industry and get inspiration for your website.

Ask for feedback: Ask your audience, friends, and colleagues for feedback on your website. This feedback can help you improve your website and get new ideas.

In conclusion, finding inspiration for your website can be a challenging task, but by using the tips above, you can get new ideas, create a unique website, and engage your audience.

anurbol profile image
Nurbol Alpysbayev
  1. Get broken
  2. Be poor
  3. Realize life is tough