Inspiration strikes at the most unsuspecting times. You might be riding along in the car, on a run through the neighborhood, or even delving into a delicious burger at your favorite local bar & grill. But what about those times when you need inspiration on the spot? You might be assigned a new project at work (with a curiously fast-approaching deadline), and it’s expected that you produce your best, most creative thinking, almost immediately. In the instant, it feels like a daunting task. How is that even possible?

Much like happiness, determination, frustration, and every other emotional experience, inspiration is felt. It’s a feeling that is evoked by something particular, just as seeing a tiny baby might make you smile, or wince. The arousal of this feeling, and the triggers that spark it, are unique to each and every individual. It is once you’ve discovered the key to eliciting that feeling in yourself that you’re onto something.

Have you ever had a brilliant thought, something groundbreaking that you want to shout from the rooftops, that dissipates nearly as fast as it fashioned? In a moment like this, I find myself retracing my steps to the very place where I initially had that earth-shattering thought. The act of awakening inspiration is very much the same concept.

The first thing to do is recollect the last time you felt inspired, truly, fervently inspired. Have you captured this moment? Think about where you were. Sure, you may have been sitting at home on the couch, but think deeper than that. Imagine your surroundings at that moment. Were your favorite periodicals spread across the coffee table, or was the cat staring you down? Perhaps it was your eccentric roommate doing the staring. When did it happen? On an early morning in July, when the sun shone brightly through your blinds? Or perhaps, following the wedding of some beloved friends. Recollect the sights, sounds, smells–any sensory detail that you can develop. Study this moment of vision, and take in every aspect of what made it exactly the instant it was.

Recalling the moment of inspiration is probably the most difficult part of this process. But recreating it might be the most fun. This is when you start to get creative again.  The out-of-the-box thinking involved in recreating a moment of brilliance is what will evolve into fresh inspiration, something that so recently felt like an arduous undertaking. Find that lovely willow tree that made you feel so empowered, curl up with your pup and play that new album that was all you listened to that week, or find that same bottle of wine that you were enjoying when inspiration left you awestruck. I promise you within no time, you’ll be feeling inspired once again.

It’s amazing to think that such tiny details can make a vast difference in the creative process, but when you start to look at the bigger picture, that is, the picture of life, it’s the very same small elements that make the ride truly inspirational. So go adventure, pay attention to the small things, and get inspired!