Everyone has times when they need to be creative (even those of you who swear you were born without the creativity gene). Whether you’re trying to turn random ingredients into dinner, or are writing an epic novel, creativity is part of life. But there are times when the creative energy seems to burn out and your perspective on your current project has gone stale. If you need help getting the inspiration flowing again, here are ten things you can try to renew your creativity…
Don’t Force It
No matter how often people claim to work best under pressure, stress doesn’t usually produce quality results. Unless you’re aiming for quantity rather than quality, trash those arbitrary goals (1000 words every day! A new painting every week! Ten new ideas before lunch!). Take a deep breath, and relax. Don’t be afraid to walk away for a bit, if you need to (whether it’s for a five-minute break, an hour-long nap, or to start a new project entirely). It’s amazing how well the ideas come when you’re not forcing them.
Try Something New
When your comfort zone feels tapped out, it can help to look for inspiration elsewhere. If you’re a painter, try listening to (or playing) music. If you’re a writer, bake something. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something out of your ordinary. Creativity begets creativity, and being creative in a new way can spur you on in your usual field.
Take a Walk
Interrupting desk (or wherever you do your work) time with a walk may seem counter-intuitive, but a Stanford study found that a person walking, whether on a treadmill or out in the world, “produced twice as many creative responses” as someone sitting. The benefits continued even after the walk was over. The next time you need to brainstorm, consider doing it on the move.
Now that travel is possible again, you can temporarily trade the familiar for foreign shores and exotic sights. But you don’t have to go far– even a few streets over can do the trick. Check out a part of town you’ve never been to. Try a restaurant that serves a kind of food you’ve never had. Meet new people. Go exploring. Be open to new adventures and see how far you go, even if the actual distance is short.
Try this exercise: take everyday items and come up with as many unusual uses for them as you can. What else can you do with hair ties, forks, or a shoe, for example? Imagine yourself in different situations (desert island, post-apocalyptic…) trying to make the most use of everything in a world with few resources. This re-inventing of common items is a form of creative thinking that can then lead to more creative breakthroughs.
Let Others Inspire You
Enjoying other people’s work and ideas can prove inspiring. Spend time in museums, art galleries, and libraries. Go to concerts or take classes. Read books and explore favourite websites or magazines. Even people watching can be a great source of inspiration.
Create Without a Plan
When you’re stuck, start making something– anything– even if it’s “just” doodles or stream-of-consciousness journal entries or putting together fabrics you like. As you create aimlessly, ideas will start coming to you and you might end up motivated to complete an old project or start something new.
Ideas can happen anywhere, and often when you’re in the middle of something else. Make sure to always have a way to record your ideas: a sketchbook, notepad, app–- whatever works for you. Don’t be afraid to drop whatever else you’re doing in order to get everything down while it’s fresh (the Muse doesn’t linger and you will not remember later, no matter what you tell yourself!)
Work Somewhere New
A change of scenery can sometimes be all you need to light a spark. If any part of your work is portable, try taking it to a park, coffee shop, or anywhere else that appeals to you. Or try rearranging/redecorating your office/work space.
Change Your Perspective
Consider your project as though you’re someone totally different (whether someone specific, or just a generic “character”). How would that person approach the project? What might they see that you don’t, and what would they do about that? See your work through their eyes.
Have you tried any of these (or any other) techniques? What did you think of them? Share in the comments…
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Aspasía S. Bissas