If you work in a creative field, odds are you are familiar with both the feeling of inspiration and the absence of a creative spark.
In a Creative Rut? Here's How to Spark Your Creativity
Inspiration and the Lack Thereof
As a creator, the percolation of a thousand new ideas can be exhilarating! It can feel like your mind is on fire with thoughts, images, phrases, colors, and magic. When you're in this state, it can be hard to imagine a time when you wouldn't have a dozen ideas for every new project.
However, the lack of inspiration comes to all creators as well. Feeling barren, bereft, and utterly uninspired is also quite common. When in this state, the blinking cursor on the blank white page seems to tap a message in Morse code that we are failures.
Sometimes, we just need a bit more rest to boost our resilience. Or some time away from our desks. Or even a cup of coffee.
But, sometimes those quick fixes aren't enough. That's when you know you're in a real creative rut.
Are You in a Creative Rut?
If you've tried the quick fixes above but are still struggling to muster your normal levels of creativity, you may be in a rut. If so, there are a few things you can reflect on to determine how you got here and how bad it is. Hopefully, you're not in burnout territory yet!
Questions to Ask Yourself
Ask yourself the following questions and either jot down some quick notes or use this as a journaling exercise for a more in-depth view of the situation.
- Do your days stand out from one another, or have you fallen into a Groundhog's Day scenario?
- Do you passionately stick up for your creative choices or go with the flow, regardless of your personal feelings?
- When you think of an idea, is it immediately followed by all the obstacles and issues that could arise?
- Do you self-defeat ideas by saying that your take isn't original enough to succeed where others have failed?
- Do you feel your boss, manager, or leader cares about and is invested in the work you create?
If you can start to see a self-defeating or negative pattern in your responses to these questions, you may be in a creative rut.
Is every day the same?
If every day feels exactly the same and follows the same patterns, no wonder you're not inspired! There is nothing to keep your mind engaged when you see the same people and things every day or do things in the same order. You become like the walking dead, no longer seeing the beauty in the world around you.
- Take a new route to work
- Go to a new coffee shop
- Try something different for breakfast
- Go for a walk in nature in the morning
Do You Stick Up For Your Creations?
While it's not a great idea to argue with your boss or colleagues about every project you work on, it may help to explain your concept to them. Not every project is a creative hill worth dying on, but you have the right to voice your opinion and explain why you think what you created is valuable.
- Take time to explain why and how you came up with the creative concept
- Ask for explicit feedback on why your idea isn't right for the project
- Ask for better instruction or parameters for the next project, so you are more likely to hit the mark
Are You Too Focused on Obstacles?
It's normal to think of issues or problems that might arise. This is your brain providing you with valuable insight on what may go wrong so that you can make adjustments accordingly. However, sometimes this instinct gets stuck in "identifying obstacles" mode and doesn't naturally switch over to potential solutions to those problems. If you find yourself stuck ruminating on what could go wrong, here are a few ways to switch gears:
- Make a list of all the potential obstacles or issues that may arise, then consider the likelihood that they'll actually happen.
- Start to think of solutions to all of the hypothetical problems you've listed
- Remind yourself that none of this has happened yet! But know that you are now prepared in case it does.
Are You Self-Defeating?
Not every idea that comes to mind will not be the most novel or mind-blowingly new concept the world has ever heard of. But that's not a good reason to shoot yourself down before you've even gotten started. As a creator, your ideas are most likely inspired by something you've seen, heard, or have otherwise come in contact with. As Picasso famously said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
- Rather than shooting down every idea you have, make a list, sketch, or otherwise capture them.
- Recognize that brainstorming doesn't give you the best idea immediately but after time and effort.
- Find inspiration in the world and find a way to make it your own.
Do You Feel Unappreciated?
It can be hard to do your best work when you feel like the people you're doing it for don't care. Taking pride in your work is essential to doing your best, so if you're feeling unappreciated or discouraged, try to find some validation.
- Reach out to your boss or leader for some positive reinforcement.
- Keep an email folder of compliments you've received on your work and look at it whenever you're feeling discouraged.
- Show some of your personal creative work to friends or loved ones for a confidence boost.
How to Spark Your Creativity
Getting your creative juices flowing can seem impossible when you're in the midst of a particularly challenging or stressful time (ahem, raging pandemic). So, if the usual things aren't working, it may be time to get out of your comfort zone.
The Need for Novelty
Often what's needed to get your creative spark back is a sense of novelty. Going somewhere new, finding awe in the beauty of nature, visiting a museum, or even watching an inspiring documentary can all help you find that light bulb moment again.
Find a New Perspective
Sometimes all you need to see things with fresh eyes is a change in perspective. Try meditating or take a yoga class. Those downward dog poses literally make you see things upside down! Or, you could weave a little more nothing into your work life rather than striving for constant productivity.
Get the Help You Need
Sometimes all we need is a little help from our friends. Or, in this case, a full-service digital agency that can help you with all your digital marketing and strategy needs. If your creative juices have run dry, at ArcStone, we have a team that can help generate new content for your website, social media, or email campaigns.