Note: This work was previously published here as a part of my freelance work.
Creativity can be anything from an art piece, to a written work, to a new business idea. What ties the concept together, in all cases, is that it is an outward translation of something within ourselves. We have thoughts and images running through our heads as well as feelings and emotions reverberating through our bodies. Creativity happens when we connect and utilize our talents to communicate what’s inside, breathing it into existence. Of course, that can be easier said than done.
Tapping into your creativity will not always come without a struggle. Everyone hits ups and downs, the slumps happen, and they can be frustrating. All of a sudden, doubt pours in, you are out of ideas, you’re unhappy with the outcome of your work, or you simply don’t know how to improve.
When handled well, a blockage in creativity can ultimately push you somewhere new. Keep in mind, the momentary frustration is often what propels you forward. Below are tips to overcome the inevitable setbacks. Give them a try, and I promise you’ll find a spark for that inspired flame inside of you. It will be that magical little thing we all call: an idea.
Talk to someone you admire creatively: Let me give a personal example here. A couple weeks ago, I was feeling very stagnant with my photography. I was having trouble making my photos look how I wanted them to, and it not only frustrated me, but lessened the enthusiasm I had to work on photography. Subsequently, I got into conversation with a friend and I told her about what I was feeling and explained the overall effects I was trying to achieve. Her suggestion came so easily and sounded so matter of fact, that it was shocking. Sometimes, you get so stuck in your own mind that you don’t see the obvious alternatives out there. The new perspective opened a whole new door of experimentation. It set me down a new path, brought back my enthusiasm, and pulled me out of the creative slump.
If you don’t have a friend or mentor you can talk to, try meeting someone new. Join a pottery class, travel, go out with a friend you only kind of know, or hell, try reaching out to someone you admire online. The conversation you have doesn’t entirely matter. It can be directly about the skill you’re working on, or just life. Talking to other people spurs new thoughts and ideas. All it takes is that tiny whisper to get the brain going again.
Save what inspires you & search through it: We’re all familiar with Pinterest. It’s a great tool for cataloging your inspiration online, but don’t forget to do some of the same thing in the real world. Save the things you come across that inspire you. Make a folder for tears, posters, and fliers. Keep a shelf of magazines and books that fill your mind with ideas. Display artwork. Keep collections.
Personally, I love beautiful independent magazines. When I’m feeling uninspired, I open Darling or a Kinfolk and flip through. The articles are short, so I can read several at once. Like caffeine, the influx of ideas is a jolt to my mind. It gets things jogging.
When you have a moment of creative frustration, go back and look through your own inspirations. What moved you once, will most likely move you again.
Put pen to paper: Pen on paper is one of the best ways to get your ideas flowing. What comes out is raw and unedited, providing a great starting point for whatever you’re doing. You can try your hand at consistent journaling, or use the medium for brainstorming exercises.
Journaling itself is a great way to stay in touch with life. Even when you think you have nothing to say, just start by writing down the day’s occurrences. It will almost inevitably flow into something more idea or emotion driven. Since being creative really comes back to translating what is inside, this constant practice can serve as the key to inspiration.
You can also try little exercises to get the brain flowing. I love these recommendations here, but give a google search for “creativity exercises” and you’ll find a whole lot more. I actually had a lot of fun searching around and trying my hand at the different games I found. Not the worst thing to have to do when you’re feeling down and challenged.Get over your insecurity: Sometimes we’re scared to create because we think our work won’t be good enough. The reality is that sometimes you have to mess up in order to learn and get an outcome that you’re happy with. Get over thinking that your skills aren’t good enough, that you idea isn’t original enough, or that you’ll never be as good as your peer. In the end, creativity is about expressing yourself. Don’t be so scared that you don’t let it out. Mess up over and over again. Don’t stop creating, and don’t let your ego get in the way.
Go for a walk (preferably in nature): It has been proven, that moderate exercise increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognitive function. If you’re feeling stuck on a project, it might be worth it to go for a long walk. Bring along your phone, a camera, or a writing pad, so that you can document strokes of inspiration that you have along the way.
Be Patient: Remember that creativity will come, you just have to be patient. Like there are weeks that you’re more tired than others, there are weeks that you’re more creative. Don’t get frustrated or fed up with yourself. Take all of the steps above, give the creative process time to happen.