Working in a creative industry can be extremely fun and fulfilling, but it can also be mentally exhausting. The trick to keeping things more fun than frightful is to have strategies handy in order to keep creative juices flowing.
When your inner-well of creativity seems to dry up, try one of these tips to help ideas spring forth:
- Keep a journal. You’re likely already more creative than you give yourself credit for, however you may also be bad at keeping thoughts in your head. Luckily a journal can quickly store any idea you have with the click of a pen. Whether it’s a sentence or a doodle, pen and paper is the way to go.
- Learn new things. The more you know, the more perspective you have and the more diverse your thinking can be. In searching for new information you might find something that relates to your latest project and be able to incorporate it in some way; thus adding a new dimension and interest to the end result.
- Break your routine (do something new). If you’re a book worm, watch TV; if you watch a lot of TV, read a good book. Go to a different coffee shop than normal. The more experiences you have, the more you have to draw from. But if you have the exact same routine every single day, then its harder to find new inspiration.
- Take a walk. If you’re feeling “stuck,” getting out of your funk may be as easy as taking a walk outside for five minutes. Take in the scenery outside your office and try to get inspired by the things you see. Getting your blood flowing can also help you remain awake, alert, and focused on your work.
- Have a nap (off the clock). Speaking of being awake, sometimes all you need is a nap. This might not be very practical for creatives with a 9-5 job, but if you’re writing at home or on a weekend and get stuck or frustrated, a 20-minute nap can be enough for you to feel rested and ready to go.
- Stop judging yourself. If you tell yourself that your work is lame, stinks, or isn’t as good as it can be when you are cutting yourself off at the knees. Doing this will simply make you anxious about your work, and make moving forward even harder than it was previously. Instead of saying “this is bad” ask instead, “how can this be improved?” Framing things as creative challenges is far better for your end result than insulting yourself.
- Fight anxiety. Anxiety kills creativity. It makes you worry, doubt yourself, and discriminate against otherwise fine ideas. If you can fight anxiety you are less likely to get frustrated with yourself at every turn.
- Defy deadlines. If a hard deadline stresses you out, then try to set deadline ranges. So instead of May 1, make it the last week of April. A soft deadline will help to eliminate worry and still give you the incentive to finish a project.
- Experiment. Get out a notepad (mentioned earlier) and brainstorm for your current project. Try to think of as many things as you can in five minutes, don’t be inhibited by the notion of “bad” ideas. Now try one or two of them, flesh them out. See where they fit in your latest project.
- Change direction. If you’re really stuck it might be because you’re too engrossed in what you’re trying to accomplish. Change direction by listening to music or going to a pleasing movie, art exhibit or take a walk. Play a game, dance, do yoga, read. Insight triggers appear at the most unlikely times and places.
Keeping a positive attitude and constantly collecting bits and pieces of information is the ultimate key to staying creative. If the old adage of “everything that can be created already is,” is true then all that’s left is to combine multiple things together. And a positive person with knowledge of music theory and game-boy internals could possibly create a new genre of music.