The blank page looms. 📄
◾ The cursor blinks.
◾ Nerves kick in.
Sweat beads (or is that just menopause?).
Nail biting commences.
Ugh! “Why, oh why, can’t I think of anything to write??”
Side note. My son has a hard time writing, or so he thinks. As his ‘new teacher’, I’m encouraging him to let his thoughts flow as he writes, just as if he was speaking them out to a friend.
And to stop saying “I can’t!”
When we make the words, the screen, or the palette, an elevated enemy, we purposely put ourselves at the end of a double barrel shotgun. It’s a really hard place to win from.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”—The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath
Get creativity flowing.
◾ So you know where I’m coming from then. You’ve stared down that blinking cursor yourself, or maybe it was a blank canvas or graphics app or songwriting sheet. Whatever it was,
the mojo just wasn’t there.
You weren’t on the upswing of a creative cycle.
The juices were not flowing.
◾ And oh, how we want those creative juices to flow! There’s nothing like the feeling of creating something from nothing, of moving to the rhythm of God’s heartbeat. Becoming one with the Creator Himself, and bringing His beautiful ideas to the earth is the honour of a son, of a daughter, of a creator.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”—Genesis 1:1
◾ And to be honest, some of our livelihoods depend on it.
Yet, here we are.
And probably eating.
◾ Well, I’ve got a couple of helpful little hints for you – a couple of easy and practical things I do when the going gets tough and nothing is coming out of the ol’ braino. Here’s to hoping these ideas help you out in a pinch and give you your creative flow back when you need it:
- 1. Stop trying and go take a nap. For real. Just walk away! The best ideas I’ve ever had have come just as I’m drifting off to sleep or in a dream! Even if that doesn’t happen for you, the best thing you can do when nothing is flowing is to take a break, get some rest, and reapproach your project with a fresh mind and attitude. Just think about it. The best way to quiet a stinky attitude is to put it down for a nap, just like a little kid! Sometimes I’ve had to walk away from a project for a few days, go to something new, and come back to it. Other times it’s a quick nap or an overnight sleep. On your way to your bed, ask God for grace, refreshing, and new creative ideas. Remember, His mercies are new every morning!
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;Lamentations 3:22-23
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
- 2. Go for a walk in nature. Get physical. Being creative is very cerebral. Unless you are dancing up a storm, you are more than likely huddled over a computer on a hard chair trying to consistently press out fresh and amazing content of some sort. It can be difficult. I’ve found that one of the best refreshers for new ideas is movement. Better yet, movement in nature where you can smell and see creativity all around you. Breathing in fresh air, moving the body around, and seeing new sites, is both invigorating and inspiring. Getting outdoors and walking might just trigger that idea you’ve been looking for better than anything else could! The worst thing that could happen is you’re going to get some exercise and fresh air – not a bad deal in my opinion! My go-to’s are taking forest-filled hikes, walking near water, and strolling to beautiful worship or classical music (get a Spotify account on your phone and hook it up to some headphones). There’s no better place to get creative flow happening then being immersed in God’s own creative expression. Have fun and breathe!
- 3. Read a fiction novel. Drink in the words of literary giants. Let the written vision of a classic novel take you away to another time and place. Imagine the colours and people of faraway lands. Go somewhere new, somewhere fresh, somewhere alive in your mind. Consider another perspective. Another viewpoint. I personally love historical fiction. Anything good in this genre puts me in such a thoughtful mood, triggering my mind to start imagining again. Once the mind is unlocked to start envisioning the surroundings of the story, the characters, and the plotline, the mind is just that. Unlocked. Flow begets flow.
- 4. Do a different type of creative endeavor. If you’re trying to write, bake. If you’re trying to draw, sing. When I can’t get anything very productive done on a project, my favorite thing to do is to doodle. I have these amazing Pigma Micron drawing pens and a pad of watercolor paper (although any paper and pen will do), and I just draw lines and circles with no rhyme or reason to them. It is so freeing! It’s like un-constipating the bung-up zone, if you know what I mean. It’s a great unblocking exercise and frankly, I just do it because I enjoy it and it helps with stress. If I’m stuck on a writing project I will also either worship/sing, play an instrument, make jewelry, bake, or puzzle (I’m currently going through a puzzle a week here just to let you know how it’s really going). Other ideas are knitting, planting, dancing, painting, hand-making, clay work, or journaling. There are so many amazing creative things to do that are easy, fun, affordable, and possible in quarantine. The easier the better and make sure it’s not anything like what you are feeling blocked on. Also, don’t turn this other creative endeavor into a project too and then get bunged up on that! Just let your mind wander and be free! Be a kid and have FUN!
“And, now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good.”—East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- 4.5 Scream.
- 5. Check out what others are making. Peruse social media and the internet for inspiration. Instagram, art websites, virtual museums, armchair travel, Pinterest, poetry circles, are all great in moderate doses… get inspired! While COVID-19 continues to clobber us, now is the perfect time to travel over to Amsterdam to the Van Gogh Museum or to the Louvre in Paris for examples, all possible if you have access to the internet. Instagram is a personal favorite of mine. I’ve been so inspired by many artists, makers, and women entrepreneurs online. That being said the key here is moderation. By that I mean, don’t spend hours and hours scrolling only to get more depressed and blocked. Another issue to be wary of is comparison. Finding inspiration in other’s work is for, just that, inspiration. Don’t use it as a means to say that your work is crumby and you’ll never be as good as ‘so-and-so’. If that’s something you easily slip into, don’t even go there. Stick to virtual museums and galleries, or skip out on this one.
- Have you ever read Steal Like an Artist? I read it ages ago but I remember it has some great freeing ideas on utilizing what others have created to inspire your own:
One last thing.
◾ This is technically number 6 on the list but then I’d have to change the name of this blog post and I don’t want to. Just let me sneak it in here —try a new brain-boosting creativity app such as the Brainsparker app (not sponsored). I just downloaded it on my phone for FREE and it seems to have some fantastic features on it. For example, one of the Brainsparker cards says: “What does this spark?” “Step into someone else’s shoes.”
Have you used it?
◾ What are your tried and true ways to kickstart creativity? Did you give one of mine a try? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! And show me what you created while you’re at it!
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”—Les Misérables by Victor Hugo