Authors call it writer’s block. Artists may say they’ve “lost their muse.” Some of us may simply feel we’re “stuck in a rut.” Whatever you call it, there are those times that we’re just not thinking as creatively as we’d like. The best part? It happens to everyone. The worst? Not everyone knows how to deal with it. And unfortunately, those inevitable feelings of frustration and exhaustion are only going to block that creative flow even more. Fortunately, the best creatives have already been through it all and are more than willing to share their best (and sometimes weird) tips. So next time you’re feeling stuck, rev up that creative flow with a few of these tricks.
Read Others’ Work
If you’re at a loss for words, reading someone else’s could be just the inspiration you need. Wendy Fox, author of The Pull of It and The Seven Stages of Anger and Other Stories, tells us that when she’s feeling stuck, she takes a break from her own writing and instead picks up someone else’s. She’ll read works from her favorite authors in addition to one’s she’s never heard of, giving her a variety of thoughts and ideas unlike her own. Even though she’s not technically creating, she says reading keeps her “engaged in the world of writing, while simultaneously helping me recharge.” She may still be surrounded by words, but she’s able to take a bit of a mental break. Sounds like the perfect excuse to pick up a new page-turner to us!
Use Your Left Brain Instead
When you’re trying really hard to be creative but it just isn’t working for you, taking a break is a remedy advised by most. But Dana Kaye, owner of Kaye Publicity and author of Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-By-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales, suggests taking it even a step further. If your right brain is exhausted from working, she suggests working your more logical left side. Write a new to-do list, the goals you want to accomplish, gather research or practice doing anything that requires analytical thought.
Spend Time with Kids
Forget hiring a babysitter when you’re trying to come up with ideas. Those energetic and (sometimes) noisy kids may be just the help you need. Lindsay McCarthy, co-author of The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families and co-creator and blogger of Grateful Parent, says kids are a natural source for creativity. Their natural curiosity, tendency to say exactly what they’re thinking, and constant imagination makes them perfect people to spend time with when you need to gain a new perspective on things.
Get Some Chores Done
Feeling creatively challenged may not be as bad as we think. When Lisa Avedon from Idea Works BMC is in a creative rut, she grabs some spray, rags and gets to work! Doing chores usually consists of monotonous, mindless tasks—aka the perfect break for your constantly churning, thinking mind. Whether you’re doing the dishes or reorganizing your closet, she swears the experience is so eye-opening, it’s “magical.”
Describe a Plain Object
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as trying too hard when attempting to think creatively. If you find yourself struggling, bring yourself back to the basics. One of international author Nihar Suthar’s favorite methods is picking up a simple, plain object (like a pen) and describing it to himself in 10 different ways—such as the way it looks, how it feels, ways to use it, etc. By thinking simply, you’ll rid your thoughts of any boring, plain ideas and open yourself up to new, more creative ones.
Yup, go ahead and add “more creativity” to the list of benefits you get from working out. Amie Walker, author of Brain Storm, recommends exercising to get your right brain moving. Exercising releases endorphins, increases dopamine levels and “allows your brain to be at its best.” Besides releasing beneficial chemicals, exercising reduces stress, clears the mind and relaxes you, which just so happen to be some of the main ingredients for creative thinking.
Bounce Ideas Off of Others
Just because you’re the one struggling creativity doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help, right? If you’re looking to spark creativity, look around you: friends, family, coworkers would be more than willing to bounce around ideas or give you some insight. “Active discussion can improve flat concepts or lend new insights to thoughts you may have dismissed when writing or brainstorming on your own,” says Coco Jeannine, digital content specialist at Inseev Interactive.
Think you can’t find sources? Don’t forget about that phone in your pocket and laptop in your purse. Write a tweet, post a status or even Snapchat your followers asking for their thoughts. We guarantee you’ll get plenty of fresh, new ideas in no time.
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