Stuck in a creative rut? If your creativity is eluding you, Imogen Bond has some top tips to get you those ideas flowing again.
Running a business that encourages creativity, the thing I get asked more than anything else is what should you do if your creativity has left the building? I know it always feels like a creative block is immovable – but that’s just not true.
The best advice I can give is DON’T PANIC!
The second piece of advice is read on: here are five practical things you can do to find that elusive creative spark.
These ideas should work whether you’re doing creative writing, making something (a painting or theatre production), or have a hit a bump in the road with a work project. If you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, try giving these a go…
1 Just start! (And accept that it’ll be rubbish.)
Much easier said than done, but sometimes it’s the only way. Tell yourself it’s going to be AWFUL and that’s ok. Give yourself permission to fail. Once you have something, you have corners and structures to ping off from, ricochet between, and duck under and through. It will help. Forgive yourself for being rubbish (no one else ever needs to see it!).
As Samuel Beckett said: “Fail again. Fail better”, and he created the odd good thing.
2 Just stop!
Walk away, close the computer, put down the paint brush, leave it be. Be sure to put your phone out of sight and then do something active – you need to get out of your head. Take a walk (my best way out of a creativity crisis), do the washing up, dust behind the radiators. Doing something active will help your brain relax. Often, that’s when an idea will hit.
3 Ask a child
It might be useful to get a different perspective – children are great for this. Ask them to look at what you’ve already painted or made and just say what they see, what do they notice? Here’s the key: whatever they say, do not consider it a judgement on your work!
If you don’t have another person to hand, get a change in perspective by altering the ‘rules’ of what you’re making. So, if you’re trying to write a poem, what happens if you draw it instead? If you’re writing a story, try swapping the point of view – pick a minor character and write from their perspective. If you’re painting, turn it upside down. It’ll give you fresh eyes. None of the material you produce in this process needs to survive into the ‘finished’ piece, but changing things up might just unblock something.
4 Limit your options
Sometimes creative blocks come from having too many ideas. If your brain feels overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to settle, try clearing some space. First, do a brain dump. Jot down brief notes on all the ideas in your head. Set a timer, 5 minutes is enough; it’s a way to remove some of the noise from your brain. Keep hold of that list but put it to one side, and for the moment just pick one idea. Something small and simple. Start on that idea and build from there. It’s worth remembering that nothing goes to waste; the most useful thing you can do in any creative process is edit. So tackle something off-road, go down cul de sacs – all of it will help you find the right journey eventually.
5 Hunt it down
And finally…if in doubt STEAL. Well, not exactly but go hunting for inspiration. Finding images or quotes related to what you’re thinking about can help you make new connections. Scrapbook pictures, make mood boards – don’t worry how it connects to what you’re doing, just look for things that feel right to you. I bet you’ll soon find something to breathe oxygen onto those creative sparks.
Best of luck – and happy creating!