Whether you make your living by being creative or simply thrive on having a crafty project to work on in your free time (painted pumpkins, anyone?), you probably know all too well how frustrating it can be when you’re feeling totally stalled. You can drive yourself crazy trying to get out of your own head so you can continue to make progress on whatever pursuit is in front of you! It’s a common problem and one that (thankfully) people much smarter and more innovative than we are have already made strides toward solving. Check out these 10 tips from creatives and entrepreneurs who have been kind enough to give us a window into their process — and how they keep it moving in spite of the natural blocks that come their way.
1. Allow yourself to fall down the Instagram rabbit hole. Sherry Jhawar — who alongside Kardashian BFF Allison Statter founded the Blended Strategy Group talent and influencer agency — isn’t afraid to turn to social media when she needs a creative boost. “I [trawl] Instagram and let myself get lost in rabbit holes!” she says. “Great new ideas can come up as I go from one topic to another.” Thank you for making us feel like one of our favorite activities can actually be good for us and our work!
2. Shake up the basics. Life coach Milana Perepyolkina suggests stepping out of your comfort zone in small, practical ways. “Wear unusual clothes that are not characteristic of you,” she says. “Talk in a different way. Walk in a different way. Before you know it, you start to think in a different way, and creative ideas [will] flow.”
3. Listen to a podcast. When travel blogger and entrepreneur Charlotte McGhee is feeling creatively drained, she tends to turn to podcasts that are relevant to the creative problem at hand — but she goes a step further. “Try the first thing [the podcast] suggests,” McGhee says. “Even if it turns into nothing, you’ve got your wheels spinning again.”
4. Commit to 20 minutes of unbridled creativity daily. In the summer of 2016, freelance writer Pam Moore designed a writing challenge in which both she and a friend committed to 20 minutes of unstructured writing each and every day. For 30 days, they noted their progress on the challenge in a shared Google doc. The penalty for skipping a day? A $50 campaign donation to the presidential candidate they weren’t actually supporting. “Neither of us skipped a day,” Moore says. “The threat of having our names perpetually available on public record as having given to that campaign was very motivating!” Choose a creative activity that you can commit to completing on an unrestricted basis for 20 minutes every day. (If that activity applies directly to your work, all the better!) “Twenty minutes a day is short enough that you can squeeze it into a packed schedule, but long enough that you can get over the feeling of having no idea what to write,” Moore explains. “The daily practice helps… give me confidence that an idea will always come, even when it feels like the well is dry.”
5. Prioritize research and inspiration. “I have to see what others are up to [in order] to get some drive to make,” says experimental photographer, abstract painter, and spiritual director Carin Huebner. “My findings don’t have to collect into cohesive thoughts, and there cannot be pressure to make responses. I simply gather and let my findings kind of fester within.” Huebner notes that she finds her inspo in everything from Pinterest to furniture design to pottery. If you’re feeling low on creative juice, pursue a little research of your own.
6. Take time doing something that requires no creativity. This might sound a little counterintuitive, but bear with us — and take a page from Zakiyya Rosebelle‘s book. Writer, product designer, and illustrator Rosebelle often finds that taking a break from creativity altogether is exactly what she needs to return to her work re-energized. “Carry on with your normal daily activities, or try watching TV, doing yoga, going for a walk, or volunteering in your community,” she recommends. “If you spend some time away from your creative projects, you may soon feel the need to do something creative.”
7. Have an “anything goes” dance session. Get up and get moving! Mindset coach Tina Lensing is a big fan of a good, no-holds-barred dance party as a solution to lagging creativity. She says it often takes just one song’s worth of crazy movement before she’s overflowing with new ideas again.
8. Get outside. Entrepreneur Nicola Fanstone heads straight for nature when she feels a creative block. And guess what doesn’t get to join her for her moment in the fresh air? Her phone! “Getting out and being surrounded by nature, seeing all the beauty it has to offer… I try to completely switch off and just enjoy what we’re so lucky to have available on our doorstep.” If you live in an area that’s more concrete jungle than actual forest, you can achieve the same effect by stepping out onto the city streets and watching the people around you. According to Fanstone, a little outside time helps “put everything into perspective” and allows her to “open up that creative channel once again.”
9. Play with your food. The kitchen might be the perfect place to overcome your creative challenges. President and CEO of Morris Marketing Group Valerie Morris admits that her inability to “do nothing” can easily lead to mental burnout — to combat that burnout, she practices her passion for cooking. “I am able to create recipes and serve food for others to enjoy, while getting great therapy for myself,” she says. “I can be busy and active, yet still be creative in coming up with new recipes, flavors, or ingredients.” Yum!
10. Work with your hands. When he needs a mental boost, full-time creative Stephen Gibson turns to projects that require fine motor skills: “Focusing my mind on a hands-on project opens up the rest of my imagination.” Get out of your head and into your body by fixing something around the house or working on a DIY project.
How do you recharge your creative batteries? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)