A Baker's Dozen of Inspiration Prompts

Sometimes, motivation and inspiration are hard to come by. And I don't know about you, but for me, when these times hit, visiting Facebook or Pinterest can be dangerous territory. Seeing gorgeous pictures (better than I could take) on pinterest or reading about other people's successes, marriages, and book deals on facebook can make me feel like a loser. 

But how to regain that sense of inspiration? Here are a series of prompts that I have found are very motivating in terms of getting the creative flow going again. Keep in mind, of course, that I am a writer/illustrator/baker. While you can see how some of the prompts directly relate to my chosen combo-profession, I nonetheless think that they will work for anyone--or perhaps kick off a spinoff idea of your own! 


  1. Chalk it Up. I am a frequent, enthusiastic sidewalk-chalker. I love to augment my surroundings with it, whether it's drawing a heart on the sidewalk or something like finding a serendipitously-shaped piece of art or crack in the sidewalk which I can turn into the likeness of cake. Not only can i delight in my own cleverness after doing something like this, but the fact that it will make others smile makes me inspired and happy.
  2. Grilled Cheesecake Sandwich
  3. Bake Something that Looks Like Something Else. I love trompe l'oeil foods, and I find it fun and inspiring to make foods (especially sweets) that resemble other foods. For instance: cupcakes that look like burgers, a cake that looks like steak, watermelon cake, doughnuts that look like bagels with cream cheese. What else could you dream up? Sandwich cookies that look like baguettes? Cakes that look like flowers? It's a fun challenge.
  4. Draw Something Together. Grab a friend. Decide who is who: friend 1 and friend 2. Each write down a list of two words, any words. Don't look at one another's lists. Friend 1 has to illustrate the first word on each list, and friend 2 has to illustrate the second word on each list (so each person has one of their own words and one from the other person). So, say you get "enchanting" and "elephant"; your friend gets "soap doughnut". You each have to create an illustration combining your two words! 
  5. Shake it Up, Figuratively. Challenge yourself in a small way. Do you always order red wine? Dare yourself to try white. Is everything in your closet black? Try wearing something blue. Take a different route home from work. Go shopping at a different grocery store. Try your sandwich with swiss instead of cheddar. Though small, sometimes these small actions can help get you out of a rut. 
  6. Red Velvet Cake Shake
  7. Shake it up, Literally: I don't know why, exactly, but for some reason, taking an unexpected sweet food and mashing it into a milkshake ALWAYS puts me in a good mood. And they've made for some sweet posts on my site: Pumpkin Pie Shake, Red Velvet Cake Shake, Cupcake Shakes, Crumb Cake Shake, Nanaimo Bar Shake, Shamrock Shake, and Girl Scout Cookie Shakes are just a few of my "trying to feel inspired" successes.
  8. Watermelon cake
  9. Play a word game. Take a longish word--for instance, "watermelon". Now, make a list of all the smaller words that can be spelled using the letters from this word. For instance: "raw"; "lone"; "water"; "lemon". See how many you can find! It is a great game to while away time while waiting in line, but it also gets your mind whirring. 
  10. Eat it the Wrong Way. Literally or figuratively. You can take a slice of pie and turn it backwards and eat crust to tip; you can turn a meal on its head by eating dessert, following it by dinner, and finishing with an appetizer. Doing this makes me feel zany, creative, slightly bohemian, and feisty. You? 
  11. Review past successes. I know I said stay away from the internet, but really, I didn't mean it all the way. Recently I was going through the archives of this site, and while reviewing posts from 2007-8, I found myself thinking, "these are really great!". They inspired me to try out some of the things I was doing more in that period, namely baking experiments and posts about the history of baked goods. Sometimes, it's good to remind yourself of good things you've done--you just might inspire yourself!
  12. Kid Around. Sometimes, as cheesy as it may sound, I like to do child-friendly crafts because they make me feel happy and talented. Shrinky dinks? Putting rocks in the oven and then "painting" them with crayon for a handmade paperweight? Making a pasta necklace? It's actually kind of fun and helps you recapture a youthful enthusiasm. 
  13. Bake Using a new Ingredient. Sometimes when I am uninspired the idea of tackling an ambitious cake I have never made before is just too much, but trying a new ingredient is not so bad. So, say it's lavendar. Maybe try it in shortbread! Or lemongrass...perhaps it would be nice in a whoopie pie? Or what might taste good with saffron? Googling recipes based on an ingredient is easy, and it expands your repertoire and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  14. Write a friend a letter. Recently, I wrote a friend a letter, and I wrote on the outside, "save for a low self esteem day". The letter itself was short. It was actually a list called "Five Things I think Are Great About You". And it listed 5 things. My friend said that I couldn't even know how good it made him feel ... which in turn made me feel pretty fantastic. So why not give it a try? 
  15. Unicorn
  16. Buy a unicorn. When I feel bad, sometimes I go to a dollar store or a toy store or a salvation army and ask if they have any unicorns. Sometimes they have a good one that I buy. Sometimes they have a crappy one which I don't buy. Sometimes they have none at all. But the clerk usually smiles when I ask. So what could you seek out that might create some good energy in the world?
  17. Taking it to the Sweet
  18. Take on a feel good project. When I did this cupcake street art installation, it made me feel great as well as the people who found them. This in turn made me feel confident in the fact that I do things that make people feel good. What could you do to make the world a happier place?

Got a sweet inspiration prompt to share? Leave a comment! 

Sidewalk chalk