As someone whose creative outlet since childhood has been writing, I’ve experienced my fair share of creative blocks. Sometimes inspiration comes effortlessly, while other times I spend months feeling like all of my creative juices have dried up. Though it can prove challenging to pull yourself out of a creative slump, I’ve found that the longer I stay in one, the harder it becomes for me to snap out of it and rediscover my creativity.
These five methods for reigniting creativity are just what I need when I’m struggling to create. Try these, and you’ll be back to creating masterpieces in no time.
Soak Up Inspiration
When I’m in a creative drought, I find that soaking up inspiration from other people’s creative works helps ignite my creative energy. I notice that if I go a while without reading poetry or fiction, I have a more difficult time coming up with ideas to write about, and my motivation in general to exercise my creativity wanes. As soon as I read something from an author whose work I admire, the ideas start flowing. Inspiration doesn’t have to come from the same medium that you work in, though—sometimes a beautiful painting at a local art museum will inspire me to sit down and write my next poem. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Inspired people view themselves as more creative and show actual increases in self-ratings of creativity over time.” With that in mind, we should seek inspiration as often as possible to maintain our creative momentum.
Clear Your Mind
Have you ever felt that the more ideas for creative projects you have floating around in your mind, the harder it is to follow through with one? Though soaking up inspiration can be beneficial, during times when I’m already overwhelmed with ideas, inspiration is not what I need. Instead, I embrace practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathwork to settle my thoughts. I’ll also spend time in nature away from all of the distractions and stressors of daily life. When I calm my mind and focus on my body, my breath, or the beauty found in nature, I detach from the clutter of ideas that I can’t seem to sort through. Later, I feel a sense of clarity when I revisit those ideas, and I have a more intuitive sense of how to channel my creative energy.
Revisit Your Creative History
Sometimes, I struggle to take myself seriously as a writer, and my self-doubt that I am “good enough” holds me back from writing my next piece. When those doubts take over, I find it helps to remind myself of what I have created in the past and to put myself back in that headspace. When I look back on the creative writing I’ve done before, I am reminded not only that I am capable but also that I have room to grow. Though it can be initially discouraging, knowing that I have the potential to write something better is what ultimately calls me to action. I become inspired to write again knowing that I have the opportunity to improve my skills and write something more deeply meaningful than I ever have before.
Take Time for Self-Reflection
Creative blocks often arise when we are struggling to confront a part of ourselves or our lives—a difficult truth, a painful memory, or a traumatic event. With the help of self-reflection, though, we can channel those difficult things into our greatest creative work yet. In the book The Captive Muse, author Susan Kolodny explores how creative resistance, particularly in cases of trauma, keeps people from reaching their creative potential. She ultimately demonstrates that self-reflection combined with creative expression can be used to “master” a traumatic experience. She writes, “Each of us has the opportunity, in confronting a poem or painting, to discover some truth about ourselves.” In other words, we can use our art, in whatever form it takes, to embrace self-reflection and create beauty and meaning from the challenging parts of our past or present lives.
Begin Right Now
If you’ve been putting off a creative project and simply haven’t set aside the time to get to work—do it now. If you’re like me and have a tendency to procrastinate because you get sucked into a social media hole or can’t stop binge-watching The Office for the sixth time, you may want to think about developing a creative practice. This could look like devoting twenty distraction-free minutes at the same time each day to your craft. Maybe you’ll join a writing group that meets for a few hours once a week. Or maybe you’ll take your drawing pad out onto the patio with you for an hour each morning before you face the chaos of the rest of your day. Whatever it looks like for you, dedicate the time and be strict with yourself if you have to be. The reward will be worth it.
When you’re stuck in a creative rut, remember that you are not alone and that even the most creative people struggle with blocks from time to time. A true creative can’t help but create, though—it’s what we’re made to do. Let us know if one of our tips helps you!
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Photo: Tabitha Turner, Olya P, Toni Reed, Kat Stokes via Unsplash