What to do when the Creativity Well runs dry.
As a writer, sometimes I just don’t have a great idea.
We’ve all been there. Artists and sculptors and designers and architects — any profession that requires creative ideas — have had times when they hit a wall.
In writing, it’s simply called “writer’s block.” A simple, clear phrase that indicates a brick wall in my brain between “I want/need to write” and “I have no idea what to write.”
But creativity is not a waterfall. It is not continuous. Creativity is more like a river. It moves, changes directions and shoots off down a tributary, it ebbs and flows, it rises and falls.
Creativity, like water, is powerful.
It’s a driving force inside us that makes us want to create.
To make something.
Whether it’s a simple blog post, a new sticker design, a paint by number, or Michaelangelo’s David.
Creativity can sometimes be forced. Like anything in life, sometimes you don’t know the end result but you just have to start something.
Here are 21 ways you can shake off the block, dance past the wall, and spark your creativity:
- Set a timer. Turn off all distractions, set a timer for 5 minutes, and write or draw the first thing that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter what it is! Let the pen move and see what happens.
- Get outside. Just take a walk and clear your mind. Go outside, get some fresh air, and let yourself breathe. Stop focusing so hard and trying to force an idea and just enjoy a nice walk. You’ll be surprised what sparks in your head when you stop trying to force yourself to be creative and give yourself a break.
- People watch! This is one of my favorites. I like to look out the window or go to the park and just watch strangers go by. Sometimes I make up stories about where they are going or what they do, who they are, why they are in a rush. It’s a really nice way to pass some time and let creativity come in.
- Just dance! Sometimes we need to get out of a rut and shake it off. Especially with the pandemic, we’re moving less and staying in more. Put on some upbeat music and shake it out. Move your body and shake and shimmy and gyrate and sing along and just enjoy the music. Get your heart rate up and your let your body move!
- Go drive. Much like taking a walk, often just removing yourself from where you are will change how you think and help remove creative blocks. Go drive through an area you haven’t before, go anywhere and just enjoy the open road.
- Read a book. I know, you should be working and it feels lazy to take a break and do something fun like reading when you really should be getting shit done. But give your brain a break! Read something you enjoy, not a nonfic about how to be creative…let your brain relax!
- Meditate. Some people find meditation to be very relaxing and allow them to reset and revitalize. Breathe!
- Browse social media. I do this with Facebook and Quora. I will just scroll through and see what people are talking about. What questions are they asking? What are they thinking about? Seeing what others are talking about often sparks ideas in me. Pinterest is another great one to look through.
- Browse the news. Don’t just doom-scroll and go into a spiral, but run through the headlines. What is happening in the world or in your area right now? Often, seeing what’s going on will spark something in your brain and that will thread out and become a great idea.
- Think like a kid. If you don’t have a kid handy to chat with, think about what you were like as a child. Look at pictures, think about what you wanted to be when you grew up, what you enjoyed doing as 5, 10, and 15 years old. Let yourself wander down memory lane.
- Talk to a friend. Get out of your head and onto a call or video chat with someone you love. You don’t need to talk about the lack of creativity — just enjoy spending quality time with someone you love!
- Do some decluttering! Is there anything more peaceful and beautiful than an organized and clean space? Pick one area — your desk, your dresser, the kitchen pantry, the coffee table — and declutter. Clean up, organize, Marie Kondo the crap out of the area. Then wipe it all down and bask in your new-feeling space.
- Buy a new tool. What I mean is to buy something that relates to your creative outlet. A new pen or notebook (we writers ADORE journals and notebooks) for a writer, a new brush or paint set for painters, a new set of markers, a sculpting tool, anything. It doesn’t have to be expensive — think how you feel every time you open a new pen/brush/marker. It feels so good and you want to use it ASAP!
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask people what’s on their mind or what they would draw/write/make! Tap into other people’s creativity and let the ideas flow.
- Change the scenery. Take yourself somewhere else. A change in environment is a great way to revitalize your brain. Go to a coffee shop, take your stuff to the backyard, or just move to a different room than where you normally work. Shake up the scenery and think differently.
- Change the story. If you always paint flowers and it’s just not feeling right today, try painting a dinosaur. If you write nonfiction and blogs, try writing a short fictional story. If you always make mugs, make a little penguin. Get out of the rut by forcing yourself to think differently instead of staying in your normal routine. This makes you leave your comfort zone — and brilliant things happen when we step out of the expected.
- Change your routine! Do you always approach things in the same way, do the same morning routine, have the same breakfast? Try doing things differently or out of order. See how that changes your perspective and gets you past the block.
- Brainstorm differently. Do you keep a mental or physical list of ideas? Do you normally just do whatever pops into your head? Try brainstorming differently — such as mind maps, word clouds, flow charts, or drawing out ideas instead of listing them.
- Doodle. Whether you write, draw, design, or anything else, try just closing your eyes and moving a pencil on paper. Let your mind relax and just draw whatever comes to you. This is a great way to get out of your head.
- Write by hand! We type a LOT. We use computers and devices for everything. Try brainstorming or writing by hand and feel how different that is from typing.
- Rearrange your workspace. Try rearranging the furniture or changing out the art on the walls of your workspace. If you don’t have space or time to move furniture, try rearranging the stuff on your desk and reorganizing your desk drawers. Change your space, change your perspective.
Do any of these ideas work for you? Let me know!
Check out my book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book! Or maybe you want something lighthearted and great for kids? I just published a brand new children’s book called I Love You Bigger Than All The Stars In The Sky and it is garnering very positive reviews!!
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