Sometimes, it’s really hard to be creative. Like, really hard. And it feels like nothing will get you thinking and moving, or get you writing-drawing-painting, no matter how much you want it. Sometimes, this comes from burnout— you’ve been working too hard, too long, and your brain is fried. Other times, you don’t know what it comes from, but it seems like nothing can shake it off. I am woefully familiar with this feeling, and today am here to offer some solutions.
Shaking things up
1. Make a List: Take a few minutes, and without overthinking it, jot down a list of things you would feel really good about doing. No limits. Then, write a second list of things that you feel are dragging you down or draining you. Essentially what un-inspires you. Just give yourself an honest glimpse into how you feel about your days. Sometimes, what to change becomes glaringly obvious, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s always worth taking stock of what works for you.
2. Work in a New Medium: I’ve found that working with one medium—writing, crafting, etc.— for too long dulls my imagination, and places pressure on me to do my greatest work. By playing around with other mediums and supplies, you afford yourself the freedom to experiment. If you’re worried about being distracted from your professional medium or about losing momentum, think about it this way: you’ll be developing and expanding the borders of your skillset. For years I was strictly and unwaveringly a writer. I focused all of my efforts, energy and free time in that discipline. When it got to the point where I no longer enjoyed it, I went to the nearest art store and bought watercolor, paper and charcoal, and started playing around. Working with increasingly visual mediums has allowed me to develop a more consistent creative voice, and has also helped me in articulating my visual aesthetic. If not for my “just for fun” work, I wouldn’t be here. If you’re feeling a creative block, try something new.
3. Read/See/Watch Something New: The age-old saying remains true. In order to write, you must read. You must. Maybe this seems obvious to all of you, but every so often I tend to forget and skip straight to the creating, before getting frustrated that my work doesn’t feel “inspired.” Inspiration, education, exposure—these are things a creative needs to grow.
4. Go Somewhere New or different for the weekend. The city, country, north, south, with a friend or totally alone. I’ve found that traveling alone gives me the time and space I need to reflect and slow down, both literally and figuratively, taking in everything around me. If you haven’t gone on a solo adventure, I’d highly recommend it.
5. Switch Up Your Schedule: If every night after work you sit down, hoping to be creatively productive but end up just banging your head against a wall—why not change up your schedule? I used to work best at night, but sometime in the last couple of years that stopped working. So I switched it up and started writing in the morning. Now that I have a job, I just set my alarm an hour earlier, make some tea, and start doodling in my notebook.
You are all unique, and totally different from each other and myself, so what may work for me or someone else might not work for you. But everyone has something that gets them going. Here is a beautiful example of other creatives and their strange schedules. Good luck!