When we have time to get into a creative flow, it’s pure bliss. Ideas flow, projects feel great, fulfillment fills our hearts. Yet, other times we don’t have enough time to get into a project, our minds are blank, or our hands don’t seem to do what we intend. These are the frustrating times when we question our creative ability. But, we can’t forget that creativity is a skill that needs to be practiced and nourished, just like any other skill.
When you’re in a creative rut or need inspiration to get started, the creative spark can be found again with a little encouragement. Below are some ideas to help you keep your creative flow consistently coming back.
Play with another form of art
Playing with a different type of art or craft will open your mind and make you look at your work differently. Your senses will be heightened, your hands will be working differently, your mind will be more focused because you are not used to the techniques. You’ll see shapes and colors in a new way, and you can bring a different vision to your main art.
Get out of your routine
Our minds easily get into autopilot which means that we don’t pay much attention to the present moment. Jolt yourself back to the present by doing something different in your day. It can be simple as taking a new route to somewhere familiar, eating a new type of food, or visiting a new nearby town. These ideas are not complicated, but they could spark an “I’ve never noticed that!” or “How interesting!” response that will give you a new creative idea.
Go on an adventure
Similar to breaking your routine, but more involved. Go on an adventure to a vibrant city, deep into the woods, an interesting museum, a different state, a farm . . . anything! Bring your camera to document the things you do, colors and patterns you see, the little details of a place, then use these in your next project.
I love finding antique letters and photos of minor events, such as letters that are written to friends that detail how life is at that moment or a photo of people on a beach. They give a glimpse into real, everyday life that is rarely documented. Next time you are low on ideas, create a “today’s sampling” of what occurred in your day. Collage little bits from the day, such as conversations, recurring thoughts, colors and patterns you saw, meals you made, and an image of something you did.
Give yourself space to create without caring about the result. Make marks quickly and without much thought, but let your body move how it wants. You can use this to get out aggression and stress with heavy marks, or celebrate something with lighter marks. Just scribble, draw loosely, mix unusual colors, glue objects down . . . anything that allows you to move your arms without much thinking even if it is “ugly”.
(Use this project as a base for a future project or tear it up for a collage!)
Go for a walk
Going for a walk outside, especially in a natural setting, has so many benefits that you should do it everyday! Walking clears your mind, improves your idea generating powers, gives you more energy, and makes your body healthier. How? Walking gets your blood flowing which brings more new blood and oxygen to your brain, improving memory and attention and helping to create new ideas. The energy you get from moving your body will translate into more energy for all areas of your life, especially creative endeavors. Walking is so easy that it allows your mind to wander and daydream, which increases new and innovative ideas. AND, it’s a great exercise for maintaining health—easy on your body, yet strengthens your internal systems, keeps digestion regular, and works your muscles. The best part? Thirty minutes a day will give you all of the benefits above.
Do a photo walk
Whether you are a photographer or not, picking a theme and documenting with a camera is a great way to notice the little things you have walked by many times. Choosing a theme focuses your attention towards something you might not have noticed. Try these themes: light and shadows, all circles, textures, quiet moments, unique color combinations.
Our brains use a huge amount of energy, especially when we’re learning, studying or doing creative thinking. This is why so many people feel tired and snack while studying. Yet, the typical sugary snacks will only lead to a quick burst of energy and tiredness again. Instead at each meal make sure to eat complex carbs (whole grains and vegetables), protein, and fat to have sustained energy all day. Here is a versatile energy-producing meal: Quinoa bowl (about 1/2 cup) with chicken/ tempeh/ beans, sautéed greens and beets, raw romaine or dandelion greens, with a dressing of 1/4 cup tahini sauce whisked with juice from half a lemon, 1 teaspoon tamari, and a little water. Yum!
Most of us do not like having restrictions (especially me!) but giving your mind guidelines will help focus the many possibilities when creating. A restriction will make you think deeper and in new ways about how to solve a problem, such as what to create. Good types of restrictions are: Prompts, giving yourself only 3 colors to work with, using unconventional tools (such as branches or leaves for painting).
What are you putting off? “One day I’ll repaint that chair . . . organize that closet . . . make that special dinner. All of those projects or activities we put off are actually weighing on you more than you realize. Make a list of yours and commit to doing one each week. Doing those “one day” activities will give your so much motivation and inspiration.
Amy Vespa is an artist, holistic health coach, traveler, and mom. She deeply believes that anything in life is possible when you have health and creativity (which we all can have!) Her passion is helping women realize their potential and create the life they truly want. Art, travel, and picking food straight from the ground are her soul’s nourishment, as is experiencing our amazing world with her daughter. Her mission is to simplify so we can focus on loving life and feeling great every day. Learn more at (www.glowandmake.com).