To solve the problem of getting out of a creative rut or getting back into creative flow, there are a number of great techniques you can use. This article has a bunch of helpful advice that I’ve gathered from various places, to help get your creativity back on track!
The Left and Right Brain, and Why It Matters for Creativity
The left side of the brain generates rational thoughts and thinking, whereas the right side of the brain generates creative ones.
The left hemisphere also helps to filter out unnecessary information from our surroundings. In contrast, the right hemisphere allows for more information into our consciousness which will then be used to develop new ideas.
Therefore, using the right side of your brain is fundamental to creative thinking.
To stimulate your right side of the brain, you need to relax and be open to new ideas. This is where meditation comes in handy. While you meditate, you can clear your mind of all thoughts and any type of mental clutter, which will allow for more creativity in your brain.
Meditation also increases the blood flow to this part of your brain, which will help it work more efficiently and creatively.
So, first up:
Meditation as a Way to Restore Creativity
The following steps help guide me through meditation:
1) Create a time when you can be away from any distractions. I would suggest trying this in the morning since that is when it is easy for us to have more energy and fewer distractions.
2) Find an area where you will not be disturbed.
3) Turn off all electronics, such as your phone, TV, computer, etc.
4) Position yourself so that you are comfortable, and then close your eyes.
5) Bring your attention to your breath.
6) With each inhale, say “In,” and with each exhale, say “Out.” If your mind starts to wander, smile and refocus your attention on your breathing.
7) Though any period will be beneficial, aim for 10 minutes when first starting out.
When you are done with your meditation, you can begin to tackle the task you want to be more creative about. Start by thinking of all the different ways in which someone else has solved this problem. For example, think of how a technology company might solve a problem or how an artist might tackle the same issue.
Let Your Subconscious Take Over
The subconscious can be defined as the thoughts that occupy your mind without your awareness. These thoughts are typically referred to as “thoughts without a conscious owner.” The subconscious is more often than not the hidden factor in successful decision-making and problem-solving. It contains information, knowledge, and memories that you have acquired over time.
When asking people how they solved a dilemma or made an important decision, it is common for them to answer with phrases like “I do not know” or “I cannot recall.”
What they are actually saying is that their subconscious was instrumental in making this decision.
To incorporate your subconscious into creative tasks, you first need to take some time to think about what you want from it by asking yourself questions. For example:
What will I need?
When you meditate, it is an excellent opportunity to ask your subconscious questions and see if you can get any answers. During meditation, the conscious mind is stilled so that you are not distracted by thoughts. Asking questions during this time will give your subconscious a chance to come up with answers.
What do I need to know?
The subconscious also holds a lot of information that we could use in solving our creative problems. For example, if you are trying to improve your writing skills, get information from the subconscious on how a writer might come up with different ideas for creative writing.
How will I feel when I have solved this problem?
The subconscious holds in memory the feelings we associate with different emotions and things we have done. For example, after you have solved a problem or idea, you may feel excitement and satisfaction that helps to boost your energy and enthusiasm for working on it.
What will it look like when I am finished?
Most of us know the feeling of accomplishment that comes after we have solved a problem. This is because our subconscious remembers how we felt when working on it and associates these feelings with being successful. It does this by releasing the feel-good hormones in our body, which produce these warm and fuzzy feelings inside of us.
After you have asked yourself some questions about what you want from your creative task, take some time to relax and meditate.
Get Away From People for a While
1) Find a place with few or no people. For example, a remote cabin or a place in the middle of the woods.
2) Turn off any and all devices that may distract you.
Typically when we are bored, the first thing that comes to mind is doing something else. However, this act of doing something else can hinder our creative ability because it disconnects us from the current situation and leads to a lapse in concentration and focus.
Being concerned with what other people think about you might also impede your creative thinking if you are worried about what they will think of your ideas.
One key to boosting creative problem-solving is to get your mind into a different zone and allow your subconscious to start thinking outside of the box.
One of the best ways to get away from people and focus on improving your creativity is by spending some time in nature. Nature provides an expansiveness that you do not usually get when surrounded by buildings. This expansiveness gives your mind room to breathe and relax and feel a sense of clarity and openness (that can be hard to find when you are in a busy city).
Another way to get away from people is finding a quiet room or space with little activity buzzing around. Try to find a place that has some sort of natural light.
Again, turn off your phones, shut down your computer, and any other technology that can distract you. Just because you are not using these things does not mean that their pinging or beeping will be any less a distraction!
Start an Inspiration Trawl
An inspiration trawl is when you look for items that inspire you and make you feel good. This includes things such as art, books, music, and other forms of creativity. The point of an inspiration trawl is to find new ways to feel creative and inspired by your surroundings.
The first thing you need to do is to have a place or device to collect inspiration.
Personally, I use my bullet journal to document inspirations – big or small – as they arise.
It helps when thinking about how you can start an inspiration trawl and think about a journal. Set your intention to write down what inspires you on each day- a quote, some sort of phrase, or even just whatever idea is brought up as soon as it comes up for you. This will help clear your mind and allow the crucial thoughts and inspirations to bubble to the surface every day.
Shake Up Your Mood
A mood change can mean anything from a minor jolt in your day to something more radical. You’re looking for a happy medium – to allow focus and creativity to flow. Small changes in your everyday routine will help keep you motivated and feeling good.
The best way to shake up your mood is by doing something that you enjoy. This could be attending a concert, going for a walk outside, playing sports, or just sitting in the yard and doing nothing at all. Activities such as these will help you get out of a mood and feel fresh again.
So, try to make time for things that you enjoy and things that get you out of the house. Having a social life can be a huge benefit. It means that don’t only focus on what’s going on in your head!
Trying to be mindful helps me a lot, taking time out to notice what is happening around me, no matter how small or insignificant.
If you are looking to shake up your mood right now, try and find a way to do something that is going to boost your creativity. For example, visit a new museum (if possible, in these pandemic times) or go on a hike in the woods. Find things in your life that can help stimulate the creative process.
Related: Why Creative Process Matters
Limit Yourself, or Rather Your Projects!
This might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes limiting yourself can actually expand your creativity! It relates to Unfocusing, which we’ll cover a bit later in this article.
To get your creativity back, try limiting yourself to one project. This will keep you motivated and focused on completing it, rather than spreading too thin and letting it drift away.
Another way to impose a limit would be to schedule times when you only allow yourself to work on your creative projects.
Try Another Creative Activity
This is something that I personally sometimes do after getting started with my creative projects. I start out on all the things that I enjoy doing, such as reading, writing, walking and exercising, etc. If, after a while, I feel like my creativity level is going to hit a plateau, I swap out.
For example, I listen to a genre of music new to me. Or I travel to a new place in virtual reality. Connecting with new cultures, people, and experiences always helps motivate and inspire me.
Get outside and Look to the Sky
The sky helps us to be creative by giving us a sense of freedom. The sky reminds us that there is an infinite world out there. In turn, this realization can help to unblock your creativity and give you a sense of openness and spaciousness. Both day and night sky!
An awareness of the stars and moon helps me immensely. Shapes formed by the clouds never bore!
Be Inspired Elsewhere
When it comes to finding an environment that inspires you, you might want to try and find someplace that is not your regular routine. The best places to go are places outside of your normal area; this will allow you to experience new things and see different aspects of life and the world around you.
You can use music actively, not just by listening but by listening within it as a source of inspiration. Music can open up your mind to new ideas.
As I write this article, I’m listening to Native American Canyon Flute Music – beautiful, meditative, and helpful! Sometimes, I pause to absorb – really absorb – the fluttering soulfulness of the flute.
Doing these things helps get us out of our comfort zones. Make sure that you are going out of your comfort zone at least once a week, whether this means trying something new or talking with strangers!
Create Psychological Distance
When you have been thinking about a project or creative work for too long, it can become hard to develop new ideas. One way to regain that spark of creativity is by taking a step away from the project you are working on and then returning to it.
This technique helps me when I am stuck in one area, so I take some time away and then come back. This refreshes your mind and allows you to create some distance from your project. This can be very useful in helping get rid of any feelings of anxiety or stress that may be holding you back from your creativity.
Surround Yourself With Inspiration
This is one of the best things that you can do to get your creativity back. When you are in a room with diverse artwork, plants, and other items that can inspire you, it also helps create a ‘space of creativity.
I have tried to do this by making a list of things that inspire me. These points can range from something silly, like a funny movie quote or a cat’s photograph, to something more serious, like an inspirational poem. I have used this list to decorate my room with items that help me in my creative endeavors.
A room of creativity will help you do two things: It will allow you to have a space dedicated to your imagination, and it will stimulate your senses. Having a place where you can sit down and relax without distractions will make it easier for you to start thinking of new ideas.
Create an Inspiration Board
Having an inspiration board or table that has positive aspects of your life can help create a more positive environment in which you live. You can have an inspiration board in one of two ways. First, you can go online and find inspirational quotes from people who inspire you.
The second way to create an inspiration board is to make a ‘fame board.’
Take pictures of people or things that you admire, and place them on a piece of paper. This is another way to display the things in your life that have inspired you, whether work-related or not.
You can create your inspiration board or table so that you would decorate a room for your creative work. Place them in places that are easy to see; it’ll be fun to revisit them regularly.
One way that I have found to get more creative is by daydreaming. Sit down somewhere where you are comfortable and close your eyes. This will help slow down the rate of thoughts (which can lead to creativity) and allow some new ones!
I have found that it helps me make sure that I have the right music for me when I daydream.
Re-Conceptualize the Problem
One thing that can help you get your creativity back is by re-conceptualizing the problem.
This technique can work in a few different ways. One way is to try to find meaning in what you are doing. For instance, if you are daydreaming about becoming a writer and joining the publishing world, this could be a creative act because of all the different things that could happen for you from this ambition.
Another way to conceptualize a problem is by taking a step back and looking at it from a different perspective. I have found that when you are stuck in one area of a project if you write it out on paper, it will help with getting things off your mind. Then when you revisit the assignment later, you may have more clarity on moving forward with your creative work.
Unfocus Your Attention
This is a good one and backed by neuroscience.
‘Unfocusing’ can give you a chance to relax your mind and let go of any thoughts or feelings that may be preventing you from getting to the next level with your creative work.
Unfocusing encompasses a few different things, such as meditation, yoga, and other techniques for being in the moment without allowing yourself to become “checked out.” It is a deliberate act to step away from focusing on whatever creative task is ahead of you. The awareness that this will help you come back to it with even greater focus and creativity!
Take a break from the computer screen
I have found that I can get my creativity back by taking a step away from the computer screen. Not only is this good for your eyesight, but it also allows you to take some time off your shoulders and not dwell on things that may be getting in your way. We are enmeshed in screens these days, and it’s a good idea to be aware of this and act on that awareness.
Take some time to do something that you enjoy; it could be something physical you can do as an activity. Personally, I love target archery and walking in my local woodland. Today, for example, I sat by the river and simply stared at and meditated upon the river as it coursed over the rocks.
Take Some Time Out on the Weekends
Especially in these difficult times, it can be tempting to work through every weekend. This is not such a great idea!
Take some time to relax and unwind with your family or friends. Sometimes this is all that we need to get back our creative juices flowing!
Publishing is one of the best ways to get your creativity back, in my opinion. By publishing your imperfect ideas into the world, you are allowing them the room to grow (and you alongside them!)
There is no shortage of publishing outlets – from social media to world-class publications and networks. I’ve done no small amount of both! Sometimes we allow pride and ego to get in the way – this is a mistake.
Much better to give our ideas the oxygen of an audience, even if that audience sometimes is small.
Another way to share your ideas, and get your creativity back, is to reach out to others. This can be done with your family, friends, or even strangers if you are comfortable with it. The thing about this is that you might be surprised by what they can tell you and the insights they can give you. If you listen carefully, you can gain a new way of looking at things.
Connect With Your Body
Your body and your mind do not operate separately, one from the other! When you are feeling overwhelmed with creative projects or ideas, one thing that you can do is to connect with your body. This might seem like a strange concept at first, but I have found that it can be very helpful in getting my creativity back.
To connect with your body, find a place where you will not have any distractions and take a few deep breaths. This will help retrain your brain and allow it to really think about what is going on in your life. The other thing that you can do is look at yourself in the mirror – this will allow for some self-awareness which could help get back some of those creative juices.
Simple things, I know – but they can be beneficial!
Play With Your Brain
When you feel down and out and uncreative, you can ‘play with your brain.’ This can include things like writing down the alphabet backward or trying to draw something without looking. These types of things allow for a fun and different way to get creativity back.
The things that you will find out about yourself while doing this can be helpful for a variety of things. For instance, when I did these exercises, I found that they helped me remember things more easily.
Stop Dwelling on the Past
This can be very important since it can remove a creative block. Sometimes a pretty big and serious one.
Try to let go of the past. When we dwell on something, it can sometimes feel like we are not able to move forward. What has happened in the past is essential, but dwelling can stop us from leaving our comfort zone and moving forward for what we really want. We don’t want to make the same mistakes as before, and we feel like we are stuck in our situation.
By letting go of past problems and then working on a new solution or idea, we open the door to new creative inspirations and activities.
It relaxes our minds because we do not have to dwell on something that has already happened.
Create Life Stories
One of the things that I have found helpful when it comes to getting my creativity back is writing down an “about me” page and then writing a story about myself. This can include anything from my past to what I want for my future. It is an excellent way of getting out some pent-up feelings that stop me from being creative or just feeling like myself.
You can also do this as a group exercise. For instance, you can each write down your own “about me” pages and then read through them and try to make connections between the two of you. This can help you feel closer and more connected to each other.
Find Your Inner Voice
Finding your inner voice can be a difficult and sometimes frustrating process, but it is well worth it in the end. Journaling, meditating, or bringing your own creativity to life through ‘publishing’ your work can all help.
Fresh air and light exercise always make me feel better and more creative. At times in the day, it’s essential to take a break and get outside. Even for just a few minutes. It might be something as small as going for a walk or getting outside for a quick run. Getting out of the house and into a new environment will give you some fresh thoughts while still allowing you to relax your mind.
Thinking About Your Day
One of the things that I have found to help get my creative juices flowing again is thinking about my day. At the end of every day, I try to celebrate the things that I achieved. This is not just gratitude for something that happened to me independent of my actions. It is an active appreciation for what I, in some way, accomplished or helped others achieve.
I also practice gratitude. This includes things that happened to me that are beneficial or joyful. Including who I was with and what we shared.
By doing this, we put our minds into a positive state before sleep and prime ourselves for the day to come.
It allows me to work through anything that is holding me back from being creative again and helps me see a new way to move forward with my projects.
Tell Yourself a Good Story
Another thing that you can do is tell yourself a good story. It doesn’t have to be something that makes sense, but telling a story can help put your mind into different situations where you might find your creativity again. This is also a good way of working through any problems you might have going on in your life and allowing you to come up with better solutions.
I have found that this can help me by telling myself a story about someone successful in doing what I am trying to do. This allows me to step into their shoes and feel the same emotions they had when they did it. I practice stepping into character or into the role.
This can often be very helpful for those trying to figure out creative projects because it helps work through some boundaries and set the mind into a different way of thinking.
Use Your Creative Skills
One thing that I have found to help get my creative juices flowing again is by using my creative skills. This can include things like drawing, video gaming, or even writing. If you have a creative talent that you are good at, then use it to get your mind working again. Use your hands!
Focus on the Present
One way that I have found to get my creativity back when it feels absent is by focusing on the present. Not worrying about the future or thinking about what has happened in the past—neither of which we can directly influence. When I think about something that happened in the past, I have found that it sometimes makes me feel anxious or sad. By focusing on the present, I can get rid of those emotions and not dwell on things that I cannot change.
‘The Power of Now’ is a beautiful book to read on this topic, by the way.
Find Your Passion
Another thing that you can do is to find your passion for life again. When you can find a passion, this allows you to focus on what you really want and what drives you. When you find your passion, you will find happiness and fulfillment in the small things that you do in life. It can also help keep you from thinking about the future because it allows you to live in the present moment.
Find a Different Way of Seeing Things
I have found I can get my creativity back by finding a different way of seeing things. This can include looking at life through the eyes of a child or being more intuitive at times. When you can find a different way of seeing things, it will help you break out of any ruts you might be in and make new ideas possible.
I have found that this can work by connecting with a friend online. Another way is to go through various books on creativity to find something different about how things are done. This will give you a different perspective on things and allow you to see another way of doing things.
Become a Critic
I tried being more critical of myself, and this is what helped me get my creativity back. I did this by writing about how I was doing things, which allowed me to see them differently from what I usually saw them as. This allowed for some new ideas that might not have popped in my head before and opened up more potential opportunities for me to be creative again.
The thing about this is that I have found it best to keep this short and to the point. It is also helpful that you write things out in the past tense, so they are less likely to be harmful or bring up feelings of guilt.
I have found listening to music while writing helpful in getting my creativity back. The melody and rhythm of music can be very relaxing and uplifting and helps you get into a different mind-frame that might allow your creativity to flow.
I have found that this can help me by listening to different types of music and allowing it to inspire me. For instance, if I am writing something like a love story, I might put on some love songs or the movie soundtrack. This allows for more creativity in my writing and opens up a new world of possibilities.
Move into Your Creative Side
I have found it helpful in getting my creativity back to move into my creative side. This can be difficult because being creative or artistic requires a lot of time and patience. I have found that this can be done by “playing” like a child again.
This means going back to when you were younger and allowing yourself to feel free to create something new.
I have found that I could do this by playing board games with friends or family members. This allows for new ideas and for people to really open up their minds again.
Ask Professional Questions
I have found it helpful to get my creativity back to ask a ‘professional question’ to someone else. This can be someone like a professor, mentor, or even other peers and friends. This helps because it allows you to get a different perspective on what you are trying to do and will enable you to work through other problems that might come up.
I have found that this can work by finding a mentor or someone else who knows what they are doing. It allows for you to become more knowledgeable on something you are interested in and provides for someone else to take the pressure off of your shoulders.
Take a Break
Another thing that I have found helpful in getting my creativity back was by taking a break. This means that you should not stress about getting things done or feel like things aren’t going your way. By giving yourself a break, you are allowed to take care of your overall health and help open up your mind. This will enable you to solve more problems and get a new perspective on what is going around you.
I have found that this can make sure that I take a break after several hours of studying or working hard, so my mind doesn’t start to glaze over.
Taking small breaks gives me the ability to relieve stress and make room for other things in my mind.
One thing that I have found helpful in getting my creativity back was by imagining. This means that you should put yourself in a new situation and imagine how your writing, or other creative activity, could be affected by it. This can include going back to your childhood or being somewhere else for a moment and imagining how this would affect your writing.
I have found that this works by talking with myself, so my writing starts to improve. I can say things out loud, which allows me to hear the rhythm of my writing and figure out which sounds are most important for me. This invariably improves what I have written.
Remind Yourself of Successful Projects
We should celebrate success without this becoming a plaything of ego or hubris.
You can remind yourself of successful projects in which you were involved or which you originated. You can look back at some of your work and remember how it felt to create something new.
This also means that you should be able to look at your work and remember how much fun it was to make it. Knowing this can help you identify things that you might be missing and help put your mind into a different way of thinking.
I have found that this works by going through projects from the past and looking at ways on how I could improve them. This allows me to see my failures and successes and accept those when I am trying to create a new idea that is sometimes difficult to express.
Switch Your Style
I have found it helpful in getting my creativity back, in writing, for example, by switching my style to allow for more variety and new ideas. Most writers have multiple writing styles, and if you do not switch them up, it can be challenging for your mind to produce new ideas.
In the world of art, there are many examples of famous artists who at some point made an identifiable change in style, often to great creative advantage.
Explore New Locations
Another thing that I have found helpful in getting my creativity back was by exploring new locations. This means that you should be able to move into new surroundings and allow for your mind to open up to different ideas. If you keep doing the same things, it can be challenging for your mind to see anything other than what is already there.
I have found that this works by exploring new places and allowing for my creativity to come back naturally. This allows me to have new ideas about different things that I am interested in and gives me a whole new emotion to write about.
At this time of the pandemic and restricted travel, I use virtual reality to travel to new places and experience different things. The Wander app is handy for this on the Oculus Quest. As are the many short films and animations in VR.
A Shortlist of Ways to Get Your Creativity Unstuck
Some ways to get past a creativity plateau? Perhaps try one of these:
– mind mapping
– songwriting or making up lyrics/music- start with the tune, then fill in the words
– keeping a dream journal
– compose a short poem
– taking up a hobby or learning new skills
– finding inspiration from nature, animals, plants, cartoons
– making up your own story
– getting more exercise
– pushing yourself mentally by learning to play an instrument or doing a new art project
– using your imagination to visualize
– solving a problem you have been having trouble with, and finding a solution
– keeping your hand moving with hobbies such as knitting, drawing, writing letters, art projects, etc.
– taking up a creative hobby such as photography, cooking, painting, collage.
– staying active to combat depression/anxiety/other bad moods that may lead you back to old habits and quitting your creative path altogether
Trying new things invariably helps me get back into the swing of things. If you keep doing the same thing, your brain may only go as far as your last idea and not anywhere past that!
Make time for Silence and Solitude
An excellent way to make time for silence and solitude is by scheduling it in your daily or weekly schedule. Give yourself a decent amount of time to take a break so that you do not end up getting stressed about it later on.
For me, mornings work best – but everyone has their own best time of day or night.
A great way to do this is by scheduling three hours every day for personal work, including working on your creative projects, writing, practicing painting or drawing, etc.
Create space in your house where you can relax. Your bedroom, or your study, can be a great place for solitude. Close the door for the best results! This will help your mind and soul relax, which will allow you to live a more creative life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Is Being Creative So Hard?
Many people find it incredibly difficult to be creative, and this is because they are not fully aware of their own creativity. When someone is not aware of themselves, it can be hard for them to get anything done. If someone is really struggling, they should start by getting into a creative space and allowing time for their mind to work.
Suppose they still don’t feel any momentum. In that case, it might be because there isn’t anything specifically that helps create ideas in moments like these. They should try going out of their comfort zone and exploring new spaces to spark new ideas. They could also keep doing something that makes them happy every day, such as spending time with friends or exercising.
When Feeling Depleted, What Are Your Favorite Ways to Combat the Creativity Crunch?
One of the things I do when I’m feeling depleted is try new things. This can help me get my creativity flowing again, and it can also stop me from becoming too stuck in my old ways.
What Are Some Fun Ways to Get Your Creativity Back?
– Playing with animals.
– Reading a book that is really good or takes you out of your comfort zone.
– Doing something different, and perhaps even a little crazy, that you haven’t done before (like writing in the shower!)
– Watching a movie about an artist and then trying to emulate their style.
What Blocks Your Creativity, and Are You Ready to Get Unblocked?
I have found that when people are stuck in a creativity block, it is often due to a lack of motivation. They stop trying because they don’t see any point in what they’re doing, and as a result, their creativity is blocked. I sometimes get out of these blocks by turning to my friends and finding motivation from them.
What Rituals Do Build Into Your Week: Cultivate Your Creativity and Get You Into a State of Mindfulness?
One thing I like to do is to visualize. I can take a deep breath and close my eyes for a moment before writing. Another thing I do is find inspiration in nature, animals, plants, cartoons (especially the ones that you used to watch when you were a kid). Or drawing/doodling. This helps me stay creative.
I Used to Be Creative – What Happened?
When it comes to creative endeavors, most people who are immersed in the field frequently question the limitations of creativity. There are so many things that can be done, and once someone can start pursuing their ideas, they can see all of the possibilities that come with being creative. When you stop trying, your creativity becomes stuck, and sometimes a moment of inspiration can help to get past a block.
How to Get Creativity Back After Depression?
Many people have to work on their creativity after depression because it can take a toll on creativity. People can get back into the swing of things by finding ways to make themselves happy again. More often than not, there will be someone who can help support you – if you only ask!
How Did I Lose My Creativity?
Many people find it challenging to be creative. They don’t have the right mindset or environment. But, if you can put yourself into a space where your mind will feel free and relaxed, that will help you overcome your lack of creativity.
How Do You Activate Creativity?
This question is difficult because there’s no definitive answer. One thing you can do is to take a deep breath and close your eyes for a moment. For some people, this helps them get more creative and find inspiration. Another idea is to find something that you’re passionate about, such as cooking, photography, etc., and practice it.
Why Do Adults Stop Being Creative?
This question makes me think of my own experience. I’ve found that adults often stop being creative because they don’t have the right mindset or environment. You can do something different to get the creativity flowing again, as well as talk to friends.
Personality type determines why someone seems more creative in certain moments and why someone feels like they are struggling with creativity (when it actually isn’t the case).
How to Get Back in Touch With My Creative Side?
I often get back in touch with my creative side by taking a deep breath and closing my eyes for a moment before writing. This allows me to have more creative freedom when I write.