How Nostalgia Can Help Boost Creativity

I was driving home from work on Monday, and I scrolled aimlessly through my old music playlists until I came across a band that I was once entirely obsessed with. It was the first band that I’d listened to that spoke to me in a way that no other band had before, and my love for that band came to inform my love of pop punk music.

So here I was, 28 years old, having a creative existential crisis, as one does, and I suddenly felt whole again listening to this band that meant so much to me when I was 14.

The windows were down, my arm hung out onto the hot black metal of the first car I bought 10 years ago as a graduation gift for myself. The weather was the epitome of a perfect Northern California summer day. Not too hot, but sunny as could be.

I was thinking about my life, and about the novel I’m trying to write and put into the world. I was thinking about my to-do list at work. I was thinking about the grad school applications I needed to get done, and the essays I needed to write. And suddenly I was taken aback by how much I loved it all.

My nostalgia trip reminded me what it was like to love something so much that you would do anything to be close to it. In the same way that my 14 year old self was going to small dingy punk rock clubs and screaming at the top of my lungs for this band she loved so much, 28 year old me is doing anything she can to get close to writing. Applying to grad school. Working in book publishing. Writing (maybe terrible) novel drafts. And that’s really that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

If you’re ever in a creative lull, some advice: Remind yourself why you started. Whether it’s reading a book that meant everything to you as a kid, or listening to a song that you had on repeat so much that you scratched your CD, or looking up pieces of art that made you feel something. Breathe it in, and remind yourself why you’re here and that what you are doing matters.

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