Stuck in a rut? Sometimes you reach a point where it feels as if all your creativity is spent up. Maybe you’re out of fresh ideas or you’re halfway through a project and itching to scrap it for something new, different and exciting. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, this is completely normal.
You can’t be working to your highest creative output 24/7 and it’s unrealistic to assume you can simply keep creative and carry on. That’s how we end up suffering from burn out.
It’s completely normal to have a creative lull and unfortunately these periods seem to happen when our creative juices need to be flowing the most. So how do you start yourself back up again, or store ideas for these rainy days? Is it really possible to train your brain to tap into new inspiration?
Finish your to do list first
In order to bring back your flow of creativity and inspiration, you’ll first need to finish what’s mounting up. That means those unread emails too, you’re going to have to face them head on. In fact, do that now for 10 minutes and come back to this article. You need a clean slate.
When other people are demanding your time, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Especially if you’re a freelance creative who relies on commissions.
What you’re tapping into here is willpower and it won’t last forever, but you’ll get the hit you need to carry on and power through the things you need to get out the way. Trust that once you’re done and dusted with this that you’ll have nothing else holding you back. No more excuses.
Stop coasting through the shoulds
Once you’ve finished the blockage of work that’s weighing you down, you’ll find it easier to tap into new sources of inspiration. Without your to do list clouding your thoughts, you can begin to build up the creative momentum. Doesn’t it feel a little lighter now that the stuff you think you ‘should’ do isn’t holding you down?
Start thinking about your ‘should dos’ and your ‘must dos’, do you have a balance between the two? ‘Shoulds’ are the things you absolutely have to do; pay the rent, pay your bills, go to work. Musts are the things that sit between, which add a little joy to your life. They’re the things you can’t help but do; work on your sketchbook, write a blog, experiment with new mediums.
If you’re doing a lot of tasks because you ‘should’ do them, it’s no wonder you’re getting bogged down. You need a few passion projects to keep you learning and growing. When you create a balance between the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘musts’ creativity flows between the two and enriches all aspects of your life.
When you’re just doing one or the other, two things can occur.
1) Too many shoulds = There’s so much you ‘should’ do that you’re just coasting through life because you have to.
2) Too many musts = You’re overwhelmed by all the things you want to do, but you’re not focusing on your basic needs first.
When you balance the should dos and the must dos you get an even playing field for inspiration to flow over.
Start a bullet journal
We’ve spoken before about art journaling, but bullet journaling is a little different. It’s a creative way to store all your to do lists and timetables. It adds a little bit of wonder to your boring bullet point lists. Not only will this nurture your creative output, you’ll also be able to keep on top of tasks so that they don’t build up and cause a blockage again.
Bullet journals also condition your brain to think creatively as a habit. You’ll use your journal every day and even the smallest pen stroke becomes a new daily routine. You set the rules for your bullet journal, so you really do have total creative freedom. Experiencing this liberation whenever you use your journal trains your brain to think in bursts of inspiration. You’ll notice creativity springing up in small bursts.
Take those headphones out! Think of all the inspiration you could be missing out on. you’ll notice much more when you don’t have distractions, so try to leave your headphones at home for the day. Maybe consider putting silent mode on your phone for an hour or so, just to be present for a moment. Inspiration can strike at any time, but how will you know if you’re not around to notice it?
Once you’re ditched the distractions, notice all the people you pass on your daily commute. Take note of all the sights and sounds, how do they make you feel? Take in those new sensations that you’re not used to because you usually shut them out. These new external factors will alter your perception to the space around you and give you a fresh outlook.
… But learn to tune out too
Tune out of the things that are making you compare your creative output. For example, we understand that most creatives need social media to share their work, but you should be mindful of the amount of time you spend scrolling and how often you’re focusing on other creatives. Are you wasting valuable time and energy watching your peers?
Not only do you start to compare your finished artwork, you can also start to feel guilty about how busy fellow artists seem to be. However, it’s very easy for people to quickly take a picture of their workshop and say what they’re doing for the day, but it doesn’t mean they’ve completed their tasks. Social media is highly curated and rarely do your peers show their low-creativity down-days. If they did, you’d soon see that they’re just like you.