Infographic: How 9 famous geniuses sparked their inspiration

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by Luke Doyle

Inspiration is a beautiful thing. In its greatest moments, it grants you ideas and feelings of rare brilliance that you can only assume your subconscious was working on while you were dealing with the mundane stuff.

Inspiration helps you to spot connections that others wouldn’t notice, or to invent solutions so elegant that they change the way you look at the world from that moment on.

While you can’t force inspiration, you can certainly feed it. Reading, writing, studying art or paying attention to nature can all give your inner genius a bit of fuel to burn. But it does get frustrating when all that hard work fails to pay off. Whether you’ve got writer’s block or an important detail is still unresolved hours before your project deadline, it’s hard to know what to do when you’ve already put in the hard work of researching and brainstorming.

This being the case, Business Backer have created this new animated image set detailing the frankly eccentric habits nine creative geniuses used when they needed a fresh shot of inspiration.

Igor Stravinsky

Perhaps Russia’s most influential composer, Stravinsky needed precise conditions to work if he was to achieve that of which he was truly capable, saying “I have never been able to compose unless sure that no one could hear me.”

When solitude wasn’t enough to get the semi-quavers flowing, he would stand on his head. He believed this would rest his head and clear his brain – although it’s quite possible that diverting his attention to staying balanced was what created the conditions for inspiration to strike.

Salvador Dali

The Spanish surrealist is famous for coming up with images that seem to have been plucked from the depths of his subconscious. How did he find them?

One technique was to fall asleep while holding a key over a plate. As soon as Dali nodded off, the sound of the key falling would wake him up again – allowing him to access the lucid moments between sleep and wakefulness without accidentally napping the whole afternoon long.

Honoré de Balzac

Balzac is a celebrated 19th-century French author whose works remain important cultural landmarks even today. For him, coming up with a juicy plot point was a matter of chemistry.

Coffee is a great power in my life. I have observed its effects on an epic scale,” he wrote, saying that drinking the black stuff would send “sparks shooting all the way up to the brain.”

Unfortunately, it’s quite possible that all that coffee is what led to the stomach trouble that eventually killed him.

Nakamatsu Yoshirō

Dr. NakaMats’ inventions have made him a millionaire 50 times over. He even has a claim to have invented the floppy disc. But where does he get his ideas?

Underwater. In fact, on the brink of death. By holding his breath and staying under until he can take no more, he believes he can become more creative. Don’t try this one at home, kids!

Steve Jobs

The iconic Apple entrepreneur also liked to get his feet wet – and his was also a technique only to be tried under controlled conditions!

When he was stressed, Jobs would cool off by dipping his feet in the Apple office toilets – freeing his mind to cook up the next world-changing innovation.

Truman Capote

The Breakfast at Tiffany’s author was a stylish eccentric. He also described himself as ‘horizontal.’

“I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch,” he said, by way of explaining his creative process.

Dr. Seuss

This one might be best if you’re working from home (unless you have very tactful work colleagues).

The author of The Cat in the Hat would cure his writer’s block by wearing one of the hundreds of hats he had stored in a secret closet.

Agatha Christie

Writing a murder mystery is hard work. Christie offset this by writing in the bath. She would eat apples as she worked, lining up the cores on the rim; not a bad idea, since some people recommend an apple as an alternative to a cup of coffee.

Nikola Tesla

The Serbian inventor of alternating current had a peculiar bedtime ritual. He would curl his toes 100 times before turning in for the night. He reckoned it kept his brain sharp – and considering he could speak eight languages and changed the world with his creations, who are we to doubt him?

John Cole

John writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. A digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans.

Do you feel inspired by any of these stories? Tell us which of these geniuses inspired you the most!

Infographic Unusual inspiration how creative minds got their ideas

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