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A question, to those of us walking on this freelance journey, is often, “how do you stay inspired?” Let’s get this out there once and for all – we don’t. No one is inspired 100% of the time, it’s not possible. What is possible is understanding the ebb and flow that certainly comes with being a creative. Figuring out the things that bring you joy, peace, and ultimately motivate you enough to continue. As a person who has worked for herself for many years, I know that learning to float along in that space determines how I make money. Perhaps some of the ways that I do that will be able to help you do the same. Read on to see what my secrets are for staying inspired, you may discover what you need!

Television personality, Leslie Antonoff also known as Hautemommie.

I’ve been obsessed with magazines since I was a small mami. Before I was haute, I looked to glossy pages to help me on my sartorial journey. While I was soaking up gorgeous spreads and layouts I was also focused on the articles a ton. Devouring the stories told in magazines like Allure, now defunct Suede, In Style, Elle Decor, Domino, plus many many more helped me hone my own writing style. Seeing pictures gave me inspiration when I was bored to pieces looking at the world surrounding me. In fact for a long time I had dreams of starting my own magazine, to write articles that made readers think or direct creative shoots that made people want to wear the clothes they saw. In many ways here I am years later doing that on this blog.

As times change so must the things that inspire us…

Sadly now that many magazines are largely obsolete I’ve had to find new ways to get my fill. Enter in Pinterest. Founded in 2010, Pinterest has become a huge source of inspiration for me. It’s here that I find posts from other bloggers, thus discovering new blogs, and where I save pictures from photographers and publications I may have never come in contact with otherwise. What I love about Pinterest is that it originally aimed to be a social network and ultimately became a search engine. There are times when I have an idea in my head but I need to see it done. Being able to type in keywords into Pinterest and get something that matches is so clutch. The platform is a constant source of inspiration for me and also a great place to map out ideas.Hautemommie poses in Long Beach, CA

Not only do I use Pinterest to save inspiring shots, I use it to create mood boards for spaces I’m creating and even as a vehicle to storyboard my television projects and novel ideas. Understanding that inspiration is something that changes depending on our mood and environment, having Pinterest in my back pocket as a constant is a great way to keep up with that ebb and flow. It is the first secret to staying inspired.

Another excellent resource for inspiration is still and will always be the the bookstore. Though it may be hard to just walk in a peruse with abandon these days, there are still speciality books that come in handy. Publications like W, Kinfolk, Los Angeles Magazine, Porter, are pages I look to time and time again. The great thing about bookstores is they likely will have magazines and books that you haven’t heard of or won’t find in your local grocery. It’s a great spot for discovery as there tends to be worldly options available as well. Getting a look into what other cultures are leaning toward is a smart way to keep ahead of the curve and another secret to success for me.Blogger Leslie Antonoff poses in street style photo.

Something I also love to do is people watch. My routine prior to the pandemic used to be to work at a neighborhood cafe at least once or twice a week. I would scout out locations via Yelp or the IG page of my photographer and friend, cyke.spaces. Being in an environment that is unfamiliar can give you some perspective and also tap into the senses that are not normally played on in your typical haunts. Be open about where you can work, think small mom and pop cafes, hotel bars, and cafes in neighborhoods you don’t frequent. This is also a great way to meet new people but that’s another post for another day.

Finally, though it has fallen off from its heyday, Tumblr is still a place where you can stumble upon a litany of imagery and stories. Once a place that you could find a myriad of inspiration from up and coming photographers, essays from writers, and it can be a forgotten gem. From time to time I log in a see what I’ve missed. The age on Tumblr skews much younger than I am which also makes it a good spot to find something I didn’t even know I was looking for.Black woman, Leslie Antonoff stands for photo in Long Beach, Ca.

But here’s the real secret —

For me focusing on trying to stay inspired is where we can get lost as creatives. It’s like trying to force something to move with your mind knowing you don’t have that power. Rather than pushing so hard to find something to motivate you, what creatives really need to be focused on is discipline. Discipline will carry you much further along than any spurt of inspiration will. One of the biggest adjustments I made for myself when I began to really take my blogging and person with influence career more seriously, was that I worked even when I didn’t feel like it. Sure, there are still plenty of days when the words just won’t come or when blog topics avoid me like some folks are avoiding masks. But the one thing I do no matter what is – work.

Leslie Antonoff of The Hautemommie and HGTV's Divide & Design smiles for the camera.Writer Hautemommie poses for camera on sunny afternoon.

outfit details: bodysuit — stradarvius // pants (similar) — zara // purse (similar) — Fendi — // sunnies — Amazon // sneakers — Balenciaga // jewelry — madewell, & other stories

Writing can be difficult. Hunkering down and making up stories seems like it would be an easy job but in fact it isn’t and any writer will tell you that. For the moments when the blank mind inevitably attacks I go to the sources I listed above; Pinterest, magazines, Tumblr; and I find a picture or a scene and I write about it. Before you know it I’ve put something on paper that created a chain reaction and now I’m in the mood to create. The secret to inspiration is that working begets creativity. One of my tricks is to create a board of inspiration on Pinterest that I go to when I feel blank. I set a timer for 10 minutes and free write about whatever that picture makes me feel. It has proven to be a great exercise in discipline but also getting the juices flowing.

Where do you find that you struggle the most when it comes to finding inspiration? Is it actual topics or is it the work? When we stop to think about what drives us that is how we can nail down the problem. Instead of seeking out constant inspiration start by honing in on a process for working. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you will be more inclined to sit down and get busy.

Hautemommie strikes a pose for photographer Kaye McCoy.Wearing Fendi and Balenciaga, Leslie Antonoff poses in Long Beach, CA for photographer Kaye McCoy.

Photography: Kaye McCoy
I would love to hear about how you keep yourself inspired, share your tips and tricks below you just may help someone else along their journey. Including me!

be well,

Comments +

  1. J. Dakar says:

    During my most recent hiatus, I thought about returning to the web much sooner than I did, but I wasn’t able to do it until I decided, “OK, this is it.” That took discipline.

    As you said, discipline will carry you further than inspiration.

    But, I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy perusing Pinterest; thank you for the reminder, Leslie! I also use Tumblr as a place to share my interests, opinions, random thoughts, and passions with images, music (lots of music!), words, and other things that motivate and capture my attention.

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