Creativity is sometimes seen as an entity which only some people have within them, but it’s simply not true.
Every person has some degree of creativity, but often it isn’t given the opportunity to thrive or the support it needs to develop.
It can also become harder and harder to be creative as adults when we are faced with the commitments and responsibilities of life. This is why it’s important to cultivate and nurture our creative sparks when they appear and express ourselves through them.
For people who make a living based on their ability to be creative, there is a bit more pressure involved, and sometimes it’s hard to maintain momentum.
Whether you call it your muse, your inspiration, your lightbulb or a spark, sometimes it just isn’t there when you need it. The important thing to realize is that you are not alone, everybody goes through dry patches and the worst thing you can do is add stress to the problem.
When you’re struggling to come up with the goods and your brain just won’t get into gear, you may need a little kickstart. To help you out, here are some great ways to reignite your creativity.
1. Set yourself a smaller target
When we’re at the beginning of a project, often the hardest part is getting started. Facing a blank page or an empty space can be intimidating, especially if you know you will be working on it for a long time.
Instead of looking at the whole project, set yourself a smaller target. Maybe you will only write 200 words or take a single photograph or edit a single sequence. Once you’ve done that you can either take a break and return later or, more often than not, you’ll exceed your original target.
2. Set yourself a deadline
That bolt from the blue or lightbulb moment is hard to come by so rather than sitting around waiting for your muse to arrive, set yourself a deadline. When you have no option but to create, you’ll be surprised at what gems you can come up with under pressure.
3. Study your creative idols
Revisit the work of people who you admire and wish to emulate. This may not be people who work in the same creative field as you.
For example, writers and poets can find inspiration in music, art, sculpture, fashion or even in nature, the key is to explore what you believe to be exceptional and see if it reignites your spark.
4. Keep a daily journal
Many creative people find that writing in a journal every day can help to keep creativity flowing.
Just a few hundred words either in the morning or just before bed can help to focus your mind on the important events that have stayed with you from the day or what you hope this day will bring you.
5. Join a creative group
One of the hardest parts of being a naturally creative person in a creative profession is the fact that you are often alone for long stretches of time.
Why not join a creative group so you can meet likeminded people and share your ideas and struggles? You could either do this online via MeetUp or Facebook, or you may be able to find a creative group in your local area.
6. Play online games
When your problem solving skills have ground to a halt, a simple online game can help to grease the wheels again.
Whether you enjoy Sudoku, a crossword, racing games or solitaire, take time out to focus your mind on another problem and you might be surprised how refreshing you find it.
7. Listen to music
Music has been shown to be a fantastic source of inspiration for creatives in any field. However, while some will advise you that classical music has the most calming influence, it’s only likely to help if you enjoy it.
Music you enjoy and know well (and isn’t distracting) may be just what you need to get working again. Alternatively, open a Spotify account and try some new music from an entirely new genre. It may help to provoke new thoughts and challenge your senses.
8. Get some exercise
Taking some pressure off your brain and start working the body by getting some exercise.
It could be as simple as taking a stroll or a jog outside or going to the gym, but putting yourself in new surroundings and releasing those endorphins can give you a whole new perspective.
9. Create a mind map
Maybe you just have too many ideas and you can’t organize them into any meaningful structure. If that’s the case, consider some mind mapping.
By starting with a core idea or theme and letting sub-themes and related concepts connect up naturally, you may stumble across the key to the creative door. Try something like Mural for some mind mapping templates.
10. Try freewriting
Freewriting can be a liberating and fun exercise. Essentially, it is letting your stream of consciousness come out in words. Imagine you are in a school lesson with a teacher standing over you.
If your pen stops moving on the page or your fingers stop typing you will fail the test. Even if you have nothing to write which makes any sense, simply write ‘can’t write, can’t write’ or another word.
11. Switch up the medium
Some creative people change up the medium they’re working with to get a new perspective. For example, an artist who usually works with pencil could try paints or charcoal, or a poet could try writing a short story.
The new medium can sometimes highlight challenges which you face in your usual medium so you can identify what’s holding you back, or the change may simply shake up your thought processes.
12. Find somewhere peaceful in nature
Nature has been the inspiration for creatives since the beginning of time, so take some time out and relax somewhere beautiful where you can reconnect with the flowers, trees and wild creatures.
13. Keep a notebook for ideas
Often inspiration can will hit you at odd times when you’re out, going about your everyday errands, so it’s a great idea to keep a notebook and pen on you at all times.
It’s also great for scribbling notes or doodles when you have a few spare minutes here and there, you never know what can spill out of random scribblings. If you come across an article or image online which you want to keep, stick it in a Dropbox.
14. Visit somewhere busy
People watching can be a great way to get inspiration.
Why not head to a coffee shop, a park or public event where you might be able to take inspiration from the characters you see and the interactions which take place between them? Take your idea notebook along and see what happens.
15. Challenge yourself with a new activity
If you’re stuck in a rut or your routine is a bit repetitive, why not push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try something new? New experiences are the perfect way to broaden your horizons and can often provide new material for creativity.
16. Go along to an event
You might be surprised to find that even the smallest communities will put on creative events.
From musical and theatrical performances to poetry readings and recitals, you may find that immersing yourself in creativity can give you a whole new lease of life.
Alternatively, walking around an art gallery or museum might also provide fresh perspectives.
17. Do something repetitive
By focusing your mind on a task which is repetitive and simple you can help to unlock creativity. This could be knitting, cleaning the house, sorting the sock drawer or even folding laundry, but it’s been shown to deliver similar benefits to meditation or breathing techniques.
18. Meet up with friends or family
This links back to the point about isolation, but getting into real conversation with other people can be a great way to get creativity chugging along again. Try to meet up over coffee or lunch with a close family member or a friend.
If possible, steer the conversation to something more meaningful rather than small talk to see if you can get new insight into a topic or another person’s experiences.
19. Use an online idea generator
There are several online idea or topic generators, like Portent, which can help you to think outside of the box. While many are intended for writers, they can still be a great source of ideas for any creative person.