5 Inspirational Strategies to Reboot Your Creativity, Overcome Creative Block, and Get Back to Work
How to Avoid Burnout
When the things you normally enjoy and inspire you seem like tiresome chores and every new idea feels like trammelling over old ground, you're probably experiencing burnout. Add to that a stack of deadlines you're struggling to meet and the feeling that your work process has been hijacked by the Dark Lord of Chaos, and you're almost certainly on the road to a total creative breakdown.
Like anyone else, people working in the creative industries can suffer burnout or run out of energy and ideas for new work. For true creatives, especially those for whom financial survival depends on keeping up a steady flow of new and better work, the prospect of burnout can be terrifying. The most natural response is simply to shut down. That's what happens when you experience a "block". It's not that the ideas are bad, it's that the just don't come.
But take heart, and take note: this is all part of the process. Every creative knows this experience. And thousands before you have overcome it and moved on to a new lease of creative life and success. If you learn from them and implement the strategies proven to work, you can bust through the block and get back to work in the shortest time.
Several strategies are proven to help reboot your imagination and get you buzzing with creativity all over again. Next time you're running low, try the following ideas to get you back on track.
1. Do Something Different
This can seem counter-intuitive if you're up against a deadline, but often the best way to re-calibrate your creativity is to take a break from what you're doing and do something different. Sometimes getting back to work in the shortest time means accepting it's going to take a while.
A common cause of creative exhaustion is that you've been pushing yourself too hard. And while discipline has it's place in the creative life, we all know that creativity responds better to gentle coaxing than the task-master's whip. Take time out to relax, read a book, or just go someplace you've never been.
You won't waste time when you take time out because when you come back to work, you'll find your creative juices flowing anew and you'll soon make up the difference.
2. Get a New Perspective
Many creative people spend long hours working alone. Sometimes losing sight of the overall picture can cause creative block. If you're stuck or losing interest in a creative project, ask someone else for their perspective, or put it aside for a few hours while you work on something else so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Another way to get a new perspective is to play the "what if" game. Ask yourself, "What if this was like that instead?" or "What if I took a different approach such as...?" Giving yourself the opportunity to see the work in a new light can lead to inspirational breakthroughs you couldn't have imagined otherwise.
3. Get Back to Basics
When you're deep into a creative project, it's easy to get bogged down in the details and lose sight of your original motivation. When you're feeling blocked, step back and remind yourself why the project excited you at the start.
Make a list of all the reasons you can think of why the work is worth doing, how it will help others, or just how satisfying it will be to bring it to completion. Get back in touch with the basics and you'll get a boost of energy to deal with the details.
4. Feed Your Muse
The well of your imagination can run dry if all you do is draw from it without allowing time to replenish the supply. Creative work demands frequent stimulation of the imagination. Feed your muse. Read, go to exhibitions, talk to other creatives, listen to music, and try new experiences. All those things feed into your subconscious and help spark new ideas and creativity.
5. Know When to Move On
You can bust most creative blocks. But sometimes you have to accept the project isn't going anywhere and your heart isn't in it. If that's the case, you're better off acknowledging the truth, and finishing as best you can or abandoning the project and moving on to something new.
It's rare, but it happens and there's no point wasting creative energy flogging the proverbial dead horse. Part of creativity is accepting occasional failure, learning from it, and putting your energy into something that will work.
The Essential Takeout
All creatives experience creative block at some point. Smart people don't waste time and energy moaning about it; they take action or recognize when they've made a mistake and devise a new forward strategy. If you find yourself in need of a creative boost, try any or all of the above strategies to get yourself back on track and back to work as quickly as possible.
© 2018 Amanda Littlejohn