If you’re like me, you sometimes feel like there’s no way you can produce another creative piece in your life. You’ve exhausted every artistic gene in your body. The well has run dry. It’s all over.
That might be a bit dramatic. But after staring at the blinking cursor on your laptop for hours, you might start believing it’s true. The good news is, it’s only temporary. You can always find a way to pull yourself out of a slump. It just takes a little…ahem…creativity.
Experiment with these 13 great ideas to get your started.
1. Use colored markers
When it’s time for me to write, I always start with pen on paper. For reasons unknown, computer screens are not first-draft friendly for me. Instead, I’m much more productive when I open my journal or start with a clean sheet of white printer paper.
Recently I bought colored Sharpie markers. The big pack with over 20 different colors that I've been eyeing for years. This might make me sound like a first-grader, but I'm having way too much fun to care. All that color gets me inspired to keep writing. I can understand if you’re skeptical, but give it a shot. Also, doodles are encouraged.
2. Browse Etsy
The creativity pouring out of that site always inspires me. On days when I’m stalling out, I’ll pull up Etsy and search for a topic of interest. Since I love to travel, I enjoy looking at maps. Search “maps as art” and you’ll find countless artists who create maps using all types of materials. Custom city maps, canvas maps, puzzle maps, and foil maps, to name a few.
Whatever your jam, take some time to get lost in someone else’s creativity. Look for a product you’d love to have. Imagine where you would place it or how you would use it. Get excited about what you find. Odds are, that excitement will transfer into new ideas for a project that had you stumped.
3. Create a graphic with Canva
Since my profession is copywriting, it's a good thing I love to write. But there are days when the thought of creating another piece of content isn't all that appealing. So I’ll take my idea over to Canva and create an infographic instead. The finished product still includes some writing, so I’m not totally off the hook. But, I get to incorporate lots of graphics into my writing, which makes it feel way more fun.
If you’ve never used Canva, sign up for a free account and start designing your heart out. There’s also a paid pro version, but for my purposes, the free version works great. Pick from a large number of designs including print products, video, and social media. Use their templates to get started or begin with a blank slate. Whatever you create will be amazing, and you'll find yourself visiting this site over and over to get ideas flowing.
4. Follow interior design feeds
Lately, I’ve been more interested in interior design than usual. This new hobby coincides with a time in my life when I’m contemplating selling my home and traveling for a year. So my design days might have to wait a while. Nonetheless, I’ve had a blast watching homeowners revamp their spaces.
To start, type “interior design” into the search bar of Instagram. (Other social media outlets might have this option as well, but I’m most familiar with Instagram.) If interior design isn’t your thing, search for something else you’re interested in. The goal is to find inspiration through new avenues, so a specific topic isn’t as important as finding an area that lights you up. I’ll take breaks throughout the day to watch stories or read posts and get ideas for my future home. Give it a shot!
5. Watch a movie
I’m planning to do this one tonight. Watching movies is a luxury I don’t allow myself enough, because it doesn’t seem all that “productive.” But recently I’ve learned to shift my train of thought and I’ve realized that the right movies can stimulate creativity in big ways.
Here’s why: they allow you to dream. For example, I’ve been in love with Montana ever since I watched the Horse Whisperer years ago. Since then, I’ve been to the state a handful of times and love hiking through the gorgeous landscapes. And there's an added bonus: watching Robert Redford ride a horse definitely stirs up my imagination. 😊
All jokes aside, movies can open your eyes to areas or stories you’ve never seen or heard about. They transport you to another world where you can forget about everyday life and live in some else's. And sometimes a break from real life is just what you need when you’re stuck in a rut.
6. Make a Pinterest board
My Pinterest boards are a plethora of creativity. They are my go-to spots for mood boards, travel inspiration, and recipe creation. My favorite board is titled “quotes,” and I’m rewarded each time I spend a few minutes reading the wise words of others.
A few favorites:
Ordinary life does not interest me. -Anias Nin
Everything you’ve always wanted is on the other side of fear. -George Adair
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. -Henry Ford
Not all who wander are lost. -JRR Tolkein
As I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter what type of boards you create, as long as they feed your curiosity. They don’t have to relate to your work, and I’d make the argument it might be better if they don't. Sometimes you have to step completely out of the box to find the right solution to a problem.
7. Visit a craft store
Do you have a Hobby Lobby where you live? It’s a huge arts and crafts store with lots of home décor items thrown in for good measure. Whatever equivalent you have nearby, spend an hour there now and then and see if your visit generates any extra creativity.
During my last Hobby Lobby run, I gathered stickers for a scrapbook for my son. He recently graduated from high school so I spent time compiling his newspaper articles into a keepsake binder. The colorful stickers helped me turn a somewhat boring job into an enjoyable creative project. You’ll be amazed at what you can find in a store like this, so give it a try.
8. Head to the kitchen
Gumbo, carnitas, and key lime pie bars are a few of the recipes on my ever-increasing list of “things I want to make.” I find the kitchen to be full of creative opportunities. Usually, I’ll find a recipe to use as a “base,” then tweak it along the way with my ingredients and style. I’m rarely disappointed.
If you don’t think of yourself as a cook, maybe it’s because you’re usually cooking for someone else. Kitchen creativity can be sparse when you must prepare meals after night for a hungry family. If at all possible, try cooking for yourself on a night when the rest of the crew is out of the house. Find a recipe that sounds amazing, pour some wine, put on some music, and enjoy the process.
9. Clean your office
This one doesn’t sound all that fun, I know. But bear with me. My “office” consists of a long wood table I bought at an auction years ago. It’s one of my most prized possessions. As long as I’m writing from my table, the rest of my office could be anywhere. It’s moved around my house several times whenever I need a fresh space to write from.
My table often (ok weekly) gets so cluttered that I begin to feel anxious about it. I’ll notice I'm writing from a keyboard squeezed between piles of papers and markers, notepads, and stacks of books. When I finally take five minutes to straighten things up, the results always amaze me. Starting the week with a clean slate works wonders for my artistic genius. Instead of worrying that I could be engulfed by the clutter, I can concentrate on creating copy that sells.
10. Read travel guides
Travel lights me up. There’s nothing more exciting than planning a trip, except actually taking the trip. I collect travel guides from states, regions, and countries that I’d love to explore. But since I work for a living, sometimes traveling is limited. When I’m not on the road but need a change of scenery I’ll pull out my books and imagine I’m somewhere else.
If you don’t have travel books lying around, you can do something similar using Google Maps. Type in the name of a destination you’re interested in. Then scroll down on the search window to read about iconic places in the area and view photos. It’s the cheapest vacation you’ll ever take. After a few minutes, you’ll feel refreshed and excited about the prospects of your next trip.
11. Play music
My son is an amazing musical artist. He plays guitar, drums, and keyboard from a spare room-turned-music room he outfitted himself. I’m blessed to hear frequent concerts when he and his friends gather for jam sessions. On nights when he plays alone the air is filled with songs written by John Mayer, one of his favorite artists.
You may not be as talented in the musical department as my son (I’m not). Luckily, you probably have access to almost unlimited music via various online outlets. Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube let you tailor your listening experience to fit your preferences. Cue up your speakers and use music to get pumped up or help you unwind, the choice is yours.
12. Go outside
Nature is like a healing balm for my soul. Although that might sound a bit dramatic, it’s 100 percent true. Since I live in an area that’s frozen for a large part of the year, I never take nice weather for granted. As soon as summer hits I spend as much time as possible outside. If it’s a busy workday that doesn't allow for a break, I take my laptop to a picnic table and type in the great outdoors.
Ideally, you won't spend all your time outside working. As you’ve learned by now, the exact activity you do doesn’t matter. Whether you hike or paddleboard or plant your body in the sand all day, the goal is to replace screen time with green time.
13. Sleep on it
If all else fails, go to bed. Your brain can only create so much before it needs a full reset. On your worst days, when problems seem insurmountable, I’ve found it’s best to sleep. It never fails that I wake up the next morning with a positive attitude and a fresh perspective.
If you’re plagued by insomnia (yes, that’s me), it’s a sign you might have too much on your brain. Try meditation apps or visualization practices to help your mind get quiet. I keep a smooth, palm-sized stone by the side of my bed. On nights I can’t sleep, I hold the stone and list the blessings in my life. As I focus on the bright side, I’m able to relax and drift off to sleep. If you're lucky, your dreams will leave creative ideas lingering in your head the next morning.
I hope whatever method you choose leaves you motivated and inspired. Happy creating!