You’re an artist, a writer, a musician, a strategist, a planner, a manager– in short, someone who needs creativity on a daily basis, whose ideas are usually turned into gold. And then one day, it feels like it’s dried up for you. The ideas are gone, every idea feels like inferior toilet paper, thin and easily ripped apart. No inspiration maybe, no muse. You’re blocked.
How does one jumpstart the creative process once this happens?
1 Try The Unusual
Try listening to some different music from your regular genre of choice. Try reading a book or magazine on a topic you wouldn’t normally pay any attention to. Use Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to randomly jump to some website you’ve never been to before. Go to the department store and sample a new fragrance. Walk around and try a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant you’ve never noticed.
The point here is to expose your senses to the new, to the unusual, to things which are far from your routine. Maybe in doing so, one can regain that sense of wonder that is integral to the creative process. And even if it doesn’t, it may at the very least help you find something new to enjoy.
2 Stretch The Muscles
Go out for a long walk. No destinations. Find a path and let it lead you somewhere, or nowhere at all. The act of walking, because it is as unconsious as breathing, very often allows you to think over your creative problem more fully.
If walking aint your thing, then get to the gym, bike, jog, do whatever exercise best suits you. Or learn a new sport even. The endorphins released by a good workout creates a great feeling, a natural high. And often leads to smashing through creative blocks.
3 Doodle The Art
There is much to be said about doodling. For visual artists, it is a chance to put pencil to paper without the stress of finishing a full work and just let the pencil run free. For writers, it can be the chance to start writing little pieces that may or may not remain unfinished, but which allow the writer to work on something apart from the novel he is finishing. For the musician, it may be a musical idea or sketch which is different from the project he is working on, and which may simply be done for fun.
Remember when we were kids and crayola was the ultimate fun tool? Art should still be fun to us as adults, and if we can return to that state of childhood wonder and enthusiasm, we have an infinite well of ideas to draw from.
Doodle, sketch, do something new with your art, and make it fun again.
4 Copy The Template
Renaissance painters used to apprentice under the master artists of their day. One of the things they woould do is copy the master’s painting and try to figure out how he did the things he did with the tools available. We can do the same. And it’s easier in this digital age to dissect how the “masters” do it.
Musicians should try re-arranging an existing song just for fun, and figure out how the original producers put the parts together. Writers can dissect favorite authors by trying to rewrite passages, lines or even chapters using their own voice. Web designers can call up design templates and cull the parts which inspire them for their new design. Or they could “view source” the code of their favorite websites and analyze how it all fits.
The point being: see how others do it, and find something useful that you can use in your own work.
5 Dump The Brain
Writer and creativity guru Julia Cameron recommends a daily “brain dump” which she calls the Morning Pages. It’s three pages of longhand journalling every morning the minute one awakes. It frees the mind of all distracting details and concerns, and makes space for the brain to work on the day’s creative solutions. Might seem like a namby-pamby solution to a creative block, but it works. Because it’s done early in the morning, you’re working almost on a subconscious level and freeing up much-needed brain power for more important things. In fact, it often leads to actually finding new ideas for your day’s output.
Write it down every morning. Free your mind.