The hardest part of working in a creative profession is maintaining that creativity. It’s okay when you’re drawing, writing, and designing as a hobby—if you don’t feel on top of your game today, you can just wait until tomorrow. But when you’re getting paid to be creative, it can be difficult. If you find yourself struggling to stay creative, try the following tips and tricks.
1. Do Nothing
Most people have their best ideas in the shower or bath, and that’s because bathing is the only time that they do absolutely nothing. There are no distractions—no phones, televisions, computers. They are left alone with their thoughts and so their mind begins working with a degree of freedom that it can’t find throughout the day. If you find that the 10 minutes you spend in the shower are your most creative of the day, then it suggests that you’re surrounding yourself with too many distractions and need more time alone. Take a long shower before you start your day and rather than grabbing your phone or tablet as soon as you’re dry, simply take some time to yourself. Think about your upcoming projects—the plot of your novel, the outline of your painting—and after a few minutes, you should feel the spark that you need to start working.
2. Go For a Walk
Walking is another activity that removes all distractions, but there’s more to it than that. When you’re walking, you’re stimulating your body and your mind. You’re changing the scenario—the usual four walls and all the distractions within—and you’re getting the blood flowing. You may also encounter things on your travel that inspire you or push you to create, and the same can’t be said for when you’re sitting on the sofa at home, staring at the same walls, appliances, and furniture that you see every day.
3. Distance Yourself From the Task
Creativity can’t always be forced, and if you’re stuck in a rut, trying will just make it worse. Instead, try distancing yourself from the job at hand. Go and do something else, clear your head, and then return at a later time. How many times have you been struggling with a task—a tough level on a video game, a tricky DIY project—only to give up, return hours later, and discover that it’s much easier than you remembered? It’s because we tend to get frustrated and stressed when we repeatedly try and fail. If you keep trying to beat that video game boss, you’ll grow increasingly angry every time you see the Game Over screen. That anger will get the better of you, and while it seems like you’re still trying your hardest, you’ll fail again and again. But when you take a break, you’re giving yourself time to relax and focus, which is why it’s often so much easier later in the day. It’s a similar story with creativity. What seems like an impossibility now will feel so much easier when you’ve had time away.
4. Change Your Mindset
Writers often joke that the easiest way to beat writer’s block is to drink or use recreational drugs. In truth, they know that drugs are rarely the answer, unless the question is, “How can I turn myself into an excitable, gibbering mess?” The basic logic behind this idea is sound because changing your mindset can improve your creativity, but you don’t need drugs and alcohol. Try exercising to release feel-good endorphins or meditate for 20 minutes to relax your mind. You can also try napping, playing with your pets, or doing something else that lifts your mood. The point is to break with the mundane and positively alter your mindset, as that’s usually enough to trigger a creative outburst.
5. Surround Yourself With Inspirational People
Who inspires you the most? Is it a long-deceased painter, a living writer, an aging rock star? They are the person who you aspire to be like, the one who convinced you to take the path that you’re on right now. We all have role models that we look up to, and when we’re struggling for creativity, we can turn to them for answers. Read about their lives, listen to their music, look at their art—immerse yourself in them and remind yourself of the reasons that they inspire you. Usually, surrounding yourself with powerful messages and inspirational work is enough to trigger your own creativity. After all, you’re not going to follow in their footsteps by sitting on the sofa, bemoaning your lack of creativity, and idly surfing Facebook. You need to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
6. Do Something (Anything!)
The best way to boost your creativity is just to start being creative. If you can’t motivate yourself to work on your novel, just start writing. It doesn’t matter how bad it is. It doesn’t even matter if it’s relevant to the story and the characters. You can always delete the content that you don’t like. What matters is that you just start writing and get into the flow. Once you’ve tapped away at the keyboard for an hour or two, you’ll likely find that your creativity has returned and the content isn’t as bad as you thought it would be. At that point, you just need to go back, delete what you don’t like, and continue with your masterpiece! It’s one of the most effective ways to beat writer’s block and it works with most other creative endeavors, as well. You can do the same with other creative projects, as well. Just make sure that your work can be deleted/edited so that you don’t ruin it.