Whether a creative task is your job or your hobby, sometimes we all struggle to find inspiration. Follow our 17 suggestions for how to find your creative mojo…
1. Unplug your phone
If you’re easily distracted, turn off your phone and any email and social media notifications on your computer.
The constant ping of messages can be too much of a temptation bringing you back to the here and now, when your creativity needs your mind to wander.
2. Stand up, and take a walk
Go outside and get away from the task at hand. Look up at the sky and any tall buildings, and down at the ground. Tiny details that you may not notice could be the inspiration you’re looking for.
Lots of successful businesses also encourage their staff to take walking meetings, as it’s believed to make people more creative and engaged than sitting down.
3. Enjoy a hobby
When you’re doing something you enjoy, whether that’s a sport, playing a musical instrument, or crafts, it helps you to relax and combat stress. Stress shuts down the creative part of your brain to focus on basic body functions like motor skills and preparing for ‘fight or flight’.
In contrast, a study in 2016 found doing something creative reduces your levels of cortisone (the stress hormone) and freeing your brain for imagination.
4. Go shopping
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, take some time to browse the shops or – if possible – an event or show related to your craft.
Photographer Venetia Norrington gets refreshed by “finding out what’s new in the world of photography, catching up with some of my most trusted suppliers and getting inspiration galore.”
5. Work somewhere new
If you usually work at home or on your own, try a new coffee shop or a co-working space. You’ll find that having different people around and a different energy in the building will inspire new ideas.
6. Sing and dance
Let go of your inhibitions and sing along to the radio, and dance in your kitchen. Like walking (in tip two), which can boost creativity by up to 60%, any physical activity is important and sitting is counter-productive when you have a creative task to work on.
7. Talk to a friend or colleague
Don’t neglect your social life, as inspiration comes from many sources. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Google Brain’s creator Andrew Ng said “Whenever I wasn’t sure what to do next, I would go and learn a lot, read a lot, talk to experts… it’s almost magical: when you read enough or talk to enough experts, when you have enough inputs, new ideas start appearing. This seems to happen for a lot of people that I know.”
8. Scribble and doodle
In a Guardian interview Guy Garvey from Elbow recommends “Just start scribbling. The first draft is never your last draft. Nothing you write is by accident.” Whether you’re writing by hand or on a keyboard, painting or illustrating, experiment with rough drafts to combat the pressure of starting with a blank sheet of paper.
Al Wardle, graphic designer and owner of streetwear brand AnyForty, says he “regularly collaborates with a ton of incredible artists and illustrators from all around the world”.
Working on the AnyForty x series with illustrators like Johanna Bamford and Jared Nickerson of J3Concepts keeps the creative juices flowing.
10. Look around you
As well as the benefits of taking a screen break to stretch your eye muscles, take a look out of the nearest window. People watching is encouraged too – perhaps their clothes or mannerisms will spark an idea, or something you overhear in a snippet of conversation.
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11. Take a nap
Periods of light sleep are when your brain starts to process the events in your memory, and a dream could be just what you need to come up with a new idea. ‘Non-ordinary states of consciousness’ is a term defined by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof of John Hopkins University, to describe the ideas that can come from your subsconscious as you drift in and out of sleep.
12: Daydream and meditate
Your brain needs periods of inactivity, so don’t work all the time. Steve Jobs used mediation to stimulate his creativity. A train journey is great for a period of daydreaming – look at the scenery passing by, and let your mind wander – or take a long bath. Keep a notebook handy to jot down any ideas that drift into your mind.
13: Listen to music
Brain scans have shown that different pieces of music stimulate different areas of your brain, so the best music to listen to depends on what task you’re doing. I always find I write best in my favourite cafe as they have such as great upbeat playlist.
14. Go large
If you usually work on a small scale, whether that’s writing on a computer screen or creating with your hands, change to something much larger and use bigger pen strokes or a larger font. You may be surprised at how looking at your work changes from a new perspective.
15: Go back in time
Try looking at styles from a different era, and how you can put a modern spin on an old idea. Becca Parker of To Be Adorned says, “Most of my designs are influenced by vintage lace, 1950s fashion and antique jewellery, so textile museums and Pinterest are my go-tos for fresh inspiration.”
16. Revisit old ideas
Similarly, your own history can be inspirational. If you have old notebooks or portfolios take a look at your previous work. Would you still create the same finished item from the brief, or perhaps an element of this can spark a new idea.
17. Take a break
If you feel stuck in a creative rut, try a change in your location – from city to countryside or vice versa. This could be just an hour to two, or a creative block could be a sign that it’s time to take a holiday!
Photos by Priscilla Du Preez, Abbie Bernet, Vladislav Muslakov, Jad Limcaco and Kari Shea on Unsplash