You sit down to finally write that story, to work on a painting, or to start a new project. You’re excited about it, motivated and ready to get shit done.
It happens to all of us. Whether it is staring at a blank computer screen or writing a new song, sometimes nothing comes. Your creativity and inspiration draws a total, 100% blank, leaving you with nothing to work with. It’s aggravating and frustrating. I get it. But it shouldn’t hold you back, and there are TONS of ways to get those creative juices flowing when experiencing a creative block.
First- let’s talk about creative block. The most common creative block would probably be writer’s block, and oh man do I know about that one! There are so many different forms of creativity, and it doesn’t always have to be associated with visual arts (painting, etc) or writing. You could be trying to develop a new delicious recipe, or wanting to do landscaping or gardening, or even rearranging the family room. YOU are a creative being, and it can be tapped into (as it should be)! Sometimes we just need to create the right space and the right state of mind to make that happen.
That’s why I created this list of AWESOME resources, tips and tricks to get into the zone! Some of them are lesser known, but equally effective. They can work with literally anything, from sketching and writing to finally working towards some goals… so here comes the magic!
*Side note: I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a while, and ironically enough I used several of the following tips and tricks to tap into my inner awesomeness and finally get it done. And, oh yeah… they freaking work like a champ. =)
THE CREATIVE CONNECTION
“Creativity is like freedom: once you taste it, you cannot live without it. It is a transformational force, enhancing self-esteem and self-empowerment.” — Natalie Rogers
Natalie Rogers (daughter of Carl Rogers of the humanistic psychology movement) developed her own therapy and self-care modality: person centered expressive arts. Simply put, the theory is that one creative outlet can enhance another, and that there is an inherent link between movement, visual arts, writing, and music.
The interweaving of several creative outlets can encourage and heighten creativity in general. I’m not going to go too far into the theory here (expressive arts and humanistic psychology are realms of their own, and there is so much amazing info out there)!
"Each individual has worth, dignity and the capacity for
self-direction if given an empathic, non-judgmental, supportive environment." -Natalie Rogers
If I’m going to write a blog post but feeling uninspired, I like to turn to painting just to get everything flowing. There are guided exercises that you can follow which can be super helpful (google is your best friend!). The point is to engage in a freeing, therapeutic and creative exercise to lower inhibitions and get more in touch with the inner self.
If you aren’t diggin’ the idea of having to work on a writing project, sketch something… anything. If you want to write a song but feeling dull, dance to some music. It honestly does wonders!
CLEAR YOUR MIND
BRAIN DUMP (aka word splatter)
That’s right- it’s exactly what it sounds like. You literally dump all the mind clutter onto the page and out of your mind. I like to call it “word splatter,” but it frees your mind from those lingering, pesky negative thoughts and distractions. You’d be amazed at how much random shit comes out- things that you don’t even know are tampering with your creative energies.
The most important thing to consider is that you write with no judgement.
SAY THIS WITH ME: I’m not going to judge or stop to think about what I’m writing.
Just let yourself write, freely and wildly, and don’t worry about the little things like grammar and punctuation. That all goes out the window with a brand dump, because the point is to just write- write whatever you are feeling or thinking, even if it’s something silly like “MAN I want bacon for breakfast.” It doesn’t matter what the heck you write, or how much it doesn’t make sense. If it’s floating around in those thoughts, get it down on paper.
Start with ONE word to focus on. It could literally be ANYTHING- dog, art, Mom, nature, etc. Sometimes if, let’s say, I’m sitting down to work a painting, I’ll choose to write about painting as a starting point, then let it flow however it wants. I also occasionally pick a quote or image to begin with, and write whatever comes to mind. It also helps to set a time limit, because there will totally be those times in which you just don’t know what to write, but with a timer you can say “I’m going to write for 10 minutes STRAIGHT,” and don’t let that hand stop moving for those 10 minutes!
If you stop to think about what you’re writing, it defeats the purpose of a brain dump. And like I said above, it could literally be something like, “I need to change my kitty’s litter box.” So again, there’s NO judgment, censoring or overthinking! Just let it takes its own course and see where it takes you.
If you just can’t seem to get organized or find direction, try mind mapping. It’s BY FAR one of my favorite ways to get organized and inspired.
The idea is pretty simple:
- Choose the main category/ idea (example: “creative block”)
- Add important, central ideas or tasks (your main focuses) and link them to the main category. These can be main topics or projects, etc. (example: I chose “finding inspiration” as one of mine)
- Add sub-tasks or ideas via branches from main focuses (example: branching off the “finding inspiration” bubble are several ways to achieve… well, finding inspiration)
Continue as needed! I can get pretty crazy and complex with mine, but simple also works!
Mind mapping is great for discovering a quick way to group ideas together! I often do my mind mapping very much like I “brain dump,” so I write things down without thinking something like “wait… should this branch off this topic or another?” After I finish, I take several different colors of pens and color code my ideas. Everything in the same group (or that could go in the same section or topic, etc) would be one color, so each grouping of ideas would be the same for quick visual reference (and let’s be real, I’m addicted to all things color)!
I’m a messy person. I’ll be the first one to admit it. I typically have SO many projects going at once, especially in my studio. When I’m having a really hard time focusing, though, I try to do a little de-cluttering and tidying of my work space. Sometimes the clutter in the environment can unknowingly translate into brain clutter.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
Music. Oh man. This is one of my favorites! Music has the ability to alter the feelings and vibes of the environment, and it can quickly start to flow through you. When I’m in a serious funk, I put on some of my favorite tunes and just listen. You’d be surprised as to what types of emotions and vibes music can evoke! If you let yourself get totally lost in the music, it will also take your mind off of whatever is getting in the way of your creativity. Sometimes it’s SO needed to just take a break and get absorbed in something else for a while!
REACH OUT TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Okay…. I'll be honest. I'm not very good at this one. I'm super introverted, and if I'm feeling lost or stuck I prefer to go within for inspiration rather than seeking it from others.
BUT- every so often I'll have one of those crazy, powerful and inspiring conversations that spurs me to get wildly creative.
If you have someone that can give you that spark, go for it. It could also be in the form of a Facebook group, etc. Other people can have awesome ideas and can help you work through whatever the obstacle is. Two heads are better than one, right?
PRACTICE SELF CARE
There are so many ways to practice self care, and some of them are even intertwined throughout this post! Because people are rejuvenated in different ways (like I said, I’m a total introvert… I thrive and become energized when alone), you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. This is part of the fun! Whether it is reading a good book, going for a hike, binge-watching your favorite guilty pleasure, taking a hot bubble bath, or playing some video games (c’mon- I LOVE Mario Kart), there is something that will refresh your soul and revive your inspiration.
Here are some amazing ways to practice self care:
- Yoga and meditation
- Listen to or watch something funny (everyone needs a good laugh!)
- Take a nap (yep, this is one of my favorites!)
- Get outdoors
- Journal writing
- Pamper yourself
- Get organized
- Practicing gratitude (psssssst… this whole post is about that!)
- Take a bubble bath, do some knitting… something that you find relaxing!
Be gentle with yourself! It’s perfectly fine to be completely uninspired sometimes. It may actually be a signal that something deeper is going on, and it might be worth it to do some soul searching to find out what they may be. The only true limitation of creativity is your openness to it, so be kind when it doesn’t present itself. If you try to force it too much, it’ll start to feel like a chore. Instead, take a break, do some of the above exercises, and go back it to when you feel you’re ready!