Creative Slumps. We have all been there. As much as you try you just can’t come up with the next great idea for your design, or song, or book. Slumps can apply to a myriad of people and professions so if you have ever been in one, or perhaps you’re in a slump right now, then this is the post for YOU!
I’ve compiled a list of 11 of my favorite tips and tricks that I use to get out of my creative slumps and I know they will help you too!
1. Lego Blocks
Lego blocks can seriously help you get out of your creative slump, and I know that sounds weird to say but hear me out. There is a great exercise I learned years ago that I've used and seen work. What you do, is you get some Lego blocks and just put different subject matter onto each side. You can tape on paper with words or write on the blocks themselves, and just randomly start grabbing blocks and putting them together.
For example you can have locations, colors, environments, animals, anything you want and you might end up with a red elephant in space, coming out of your blocks, and you never know, it may trigger an idea that you will want to expand upon! Some of my favorite creations have come from an utterly randomly generated idea.
If you don’t happen to have Lego blocks, you don’t have to go out and buy some, just tear up little pieces of paper with the words on it and make random sentences, not the same, but very similar and has just as effective results!
2. Go back in time
Sometimes you have to go back to something you’ve already made to get some potentially new ideas. Go back to completed, as well as, incomplete work and maybe revamp or redo something you’ve done in the past. You may even get a wave of inspiration to create something new combining elements from your previous pieces.
Many years ago I was not as adept in the use of Photoshop and art in general, as I am today, and as a result of that, some of my creations were rather lackluster, however the idea was there, and a few times now I've gone back to some of my early work and found that I could recreate my old ideas to be exactly as I had envisioned them back then.
3. Pen to Paper
In today’s modern age, we don’t spend much time reading physical books or actually writing on paper, it’s all on our phones, however there is something about putting pen to paper that just gets the imagination flowing.
In this exercise, take a notebook or plain piece of paper, and just start writing. It doesn’t matter what it is, or how crazy and absurd it may sound to you, but it is fantastic at getting your thoughts going, and at the same time you are not distracted by anything, just your thoughts and writing them down. I’ve come up with some ridiculous stories and scenarios that I ended up turning into pieces.
4. Just Leave
This sounds harsh, I know, but you have to leave. Not from this blog, you should totally finish reading this blog post first, but leave your natural work environment. Whether it’s your office, bedroom, living room, basement, wherever you may work, being in the same location can sometimes hinder your creative capabilities. Seeing something new or being in a new place can really expand your mind and get those creative juices flowing!
I love coffee a lot so I would personally suggest you go check out a new coffee shop, and don’t just grab a coffee and go, stay and sit down, people watch a little bit, take in the environment. You can even take a notebook and doodle or write down any and all ideas that you get!
A few other places that I've found to be fantastic escapes are: Museums, Art Galleries, Parks, Trails, Your local market place or town square. There is no limit to where you can go and if you need more inspiration to travel you’ll want to check this out
5. People Watching
For me personally, people watching can be one of the most mind opening and creatively liberating things I can do. You end up seeing people from all walks of life, living out their day to day lives and you see scenarios you would have never seen had you not been out people watching.
Many years ago when I was in Chinatown, I was just watching people and honestly I was having a photography slump, the angles weren’t there, the subject matter just wasn’t cutting it and then I saw it. The scene that jump started my photography again. It was a candid shot of this elderly gentleman taking a smoke break in front of a stop sign. Try this one for sure, it works so well!
You heard that right, I’m telling you to steal. Now don’t go out and taking someone’s new phone or anything like that, but steal ideas. There is a big stigma in creative fields about stealing somebody else’s work and I am 100% against stealing work if you use pass it off as your own and it only benefits you. The only kind of stealing I am okay with is the kind I will tell you more about.
Steal ideas. Not to pass off as your own, but to practice, expand your skill-set and gain inspiration for future works. I watch a lot of youtube tutorials on different skills I want to learn, like create fire from scratch in Photoshop, etc. I straight up steal the piece they make. This one video had a guy make a fairy-tale scene of a deer with its antlers on fire. I copied the piece down to the last detail. Did I ever post it? No. Will I ever post it? No. It’s not mine, but I stole it in the sense that I took it and copied it for my sake, to expand my skills and get my ideas going. Before I would never consider ideas with fire because I had no clue how to make it, after doing this exercise, that’s no longer an issue. I use the skills learned to come up with new ideas
7. Indulge yourself
What is something you like to do that relaxes you? For me it’s traveling, drawing, cooking, reading, and the occasional video game. Sometimes the reason for a creative slump is as simple as exhaustion. Mental exhaustion to be precise. Doing something that relaxes you can be just the ticket you need to get out of your slump.
For me, reading makes my imagination go wild with imagery as does video games. For you it could be the same thing or something entirely different. I know people who go rock climbing, do yoga, paint, all kinds of things to relax. It’s up to you to find out what that is for you and then give it a go!
8. Get engaged!
Okay don’t go out proposing to the first attractive person you see, you’ll get some weird looks. But engage in your community of creatives. Whether it’s visual art, music, literature, every creative field has a community that you can find on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Browse some hashtags that have work you like and just talk with those who made it, compliment them, ask them how they did something, and you may even pick up some inspiration in doing this! I’ve found some great content creators from doing this, who I would have never even seen their work and it has really inspired me to create some of my best pieces.
I’m very grateful for the little community I've managed to build on Instagram where I can help some of you out with your questions and some of you have helped me out as well, it’s a really awesome back and forth and I enjoy having social media be a dialogue. If you haven’t already you should follow me on Instagram HERE
Pulling the Ol’ Switcheroo on yourself can be such a fun thing to do. Switch things up. If you generally tend to do photography, try drawing. If you are primarily a musician, go take some photos. You can even mix up your style. If you always paint with oil paint on canvas, draw with watercolor pencil on paper. If you take fashion photos, do some nature photography.
Expanding your horizons is what all these points are about and mixing things up that you do on a daily basis can get you out of your creative slumps so fast!
10. Get zen
You don’t have to go climb a mountain in Tibet and talk to a master monk to learn the ways of the zen. You can keep it as simple as meditation right where you are. Meditation can help you to clear your mind from all kinds of useless thoughts and get you to focus on what’s important. You can load up a guided meditation on youtube or download one of the many meditation apps you can find on your phone’s app store for free.
I’ve personally found that calming and meditative exercises help me to keep my stress low, my mind clear and focused and keeps me overall more productive.
This point is something that I find very personal to myself, but I'm sure many of you will be able to take something out of this too. When I'm stuck, I clean. Many years ago I heard a quote that was something along the lines of “A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind.” I am a firm believer of this. I try to keep my desk and work area clean. It means less distractions and less things to worry about.
Sometimes just throwing out the trash and wiping down your desk can make a world of difference. Having a cleaner desk helps refresh my productivity and creativity to be so much higher than it would be if I was working in a mess.
I don’t expect you to go out and do all of these and become the next DaVinci or Picasso, but I really do hope that at least one of these ideas will help you to break out of your creative slump. I invite you to mix and match these tips and even alter them to best suit you. Different creative slumps may require different exercises to get over.
If there is a way in which you get out of a creative slump, let me know in the comments!
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