Do you ever find that the mind can be seriously annoying? At least that's what I thought last Friday. I was frustrated, overwhelmed and wasn't sure how to get myself out of my very own creative rut.</
Instead of moaning and complaining, I decided to embark on a mini project. Much akin to the “Happiness Project” where the book's author taught herself how to truly be happy. Well, my project wasn't so much about being happy but more about letting my creative juices flow. You see, there seems to be a cap to my creativity and instead of sitting here, frustrated at my inability to think bigger, I decided to shake my brain up and get to work on my creativity. Consider it a Blogger's Guide to Creativity.
These 10 steps helped me get past my mind roadblock and will hopefully get you past yours too:
1. Unplug. I make it a mission of mine to spend at least one afternoon completely unplugged. I know this sounds impossible but you can do it. In fact, you have to do it. Not only is it great for your data plan (data plans are the worst) but it actually refreshes the mind to mentally check out from your phone. Why? Because mobile devices are entirely distracting. What I've noticed with mobile devices is that my mind is constantly focused on it, even when it isn't in my hand. “What kind of Instagrams are being shared? Who is tweeting at me? Did I send that email?” All of those questions pop into my brain and it can be seriously overwhelming. I'm not the only one who thinks this way either; there is even a ‘National Day of Unplugging' that calls for users to “Stop the constant emailing, texting, tweeting and Facebooking to take time to notice the world around you. Connect with loved ones. Nurture your health. Get outside. Find silence.” This mobile-silence can reset your mind and get you back on track.
2. Get your hands dirty. Figuratively or literally. The act of doing, the act of making something is so powerful, I highly recommend it if you are stuck inside your mind. From taking photos to keeping busy in the kitchen to cleaning out closets, these activities force to focus on simple, menial tasks. They keep your brain and body busy, which gives you a brief respite from your day-to-day errands. I typically find that making collages can be helpful when I'm feeling a little down, or playing in the kitchen with a new recipe gets me creative groove. Whether it's a photography, sewing, or a DIY project, just do something. It's like recess, but for adults. You'll come back to your desk amped and ready to go.
3. Dive into inspiring reading material. It only takes a few stories from influencers or an in-depth interview with a CEO to get your brain working. In fact, I carve time out on my weekend morning's to read articles or books that offer relatable experiences. This interview with Tory Burch continues to leave me in awe, mainly because you can tell that Burch has so much insight that she can offer to both fans and bloggers. If you're looking for something a little bigger, something with a little more ooomph, I'd suggest finding a book. But not just any self-help book. Here at IFB, we stock up on a few insightful books that we turn to for advice or inspiration including Imagine: How Creativity Works and StrengthsFinder 2.0, a novel that reads more like a quiz. You take a a test that basically breaks down your biggest strengths and shows how you can use those strengths to your advantage.
4. Grab a couple of friends and peers and see talk it out. I don't know about you but when I'm feeling like I'm in a rut, I make plans with a few inspiring friends and talk it out. What's bothering me, what's holding me back, what can I do to change my perspective. All of these questions can be near impossible to answer when you are in the belly of the beast but once you get an outsider's perspective, you get a better handle on your current situation. Consider it like a brainstorming session, but with your friends, not your coworkers.
5. Break out of your routine. I don't know about you but I'm a creature of habit. I go the same route to work, I spend my mornings on the same sites. I practically have my work day down to a science. This routine is safe, comforting yet also restrictive. If I go a certain route each day, who knows what I may be missing on a different path? Shake things up just a bit by taking your traditional workday and rework it. Find new sites to explore. Shoot your photographs in a different setting. Try a new store to find outfit inspiration. Spend a few hours or days in testing new things out just to get you outside of your routine. You never know, you might discover something that will get your mind going in a whole new direction.
6. Jot down your goals. It's so easy to get stuck in your daily routine that you forget about the bigger picture. Stay focused and motivated by putting your goals to paper and keeping it close by. Every time you get bogged down with challenges or minor upsets, look back to your goals. They won't fix your problems but they will remind you why those problems need to be fixed.
7. Change your surroundings. Taking a trip to a foreign land would be the obvious thing to say here however I know that we all can't do that, no matter how enticing it sounds. So instead of splurging on a budget-breaking trip, just get out of town or your neighborhood for a short period of time. Living in New York, I'm pretty spoiled. I can go to either side of Manhattan and get a total change of scenery. I go to parks on my Sundays with a cup of coffee or head down to a new part of town I've never been. The point is, new buildings, new restaurants, new cafes all get you to open your eyes. Just don't forget your notebook! You never know when a walk down a different street will cause you to think of something brilliant.
8. Catch a thought-provoking film or documentary. I'm not talking about “The Avengers”, although who doesn't love a little Robert Downey Jr… I'm referring to a film that resonates with what you are trying to accomplish. Some of my favorite documentaries are Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Bill Cunningham New York, Page One: Inside the New York Times, Valentino: The Last Emperor, and of course, The September Issue. All of these films focus on industry leaders who show that even though times get tough, you can still prevail, which is basically the best mantra for us needing creativity.
9. Loosen up and have fun. Fun? Yeah, fun. Live a little, do something that makes you smile and laugh. Loosen up and stop being so restrictive. I think that we, as adults, often forget about the importance of play, fun. We get so wrapped up in paying bills, writing content, building strategies. But what about finding the lightness and fun in your work? One of my favorite TED talks was with Stuart Brown who shared his study on the Importance of Play and I highly suggest watching it. By engaging in more fun, you take the hostility out of your daily life, which lets your brain and creativity flow more freely… Who's up for some bowling or mini golf?! In fact, I just saw one of these golf equipment that would definitely entice fellow golfers or just another tired employee to play right now.
10. Be inspired. I know what you're thinking. “Get inspired by being inspired? Seriously?” But hear me out. Often, my mind can't fathom how to go big. It's too abstract, too much for my brain. But when I go to museums or natural wonders, I am reminded that anything is possible. I head to the MET and stare at some of the finest pieces of art and wonder how is it possible that this was created. Or I will go to the Brooklyn Bridge and just marvel at how crazy that bridge is. All the little pieces come together to create a true masterpiece. The point is, get inspired, be awestruck. Break the boundaries you've set for self and allow your mind the opportunity to truly create something. Anything.
I really like these pointers, especially the one about going to a different place and the one about doing something fun.
I personally do something completely different for a while to get out of a rut and I find the place I get the most ideas and inspiration is when I’m on a train. Going away for a weekend to visit friends or family is a great way to get out of a big rut that leaves you looking at a blank computer screen and an empty notebook.
I’ve also found writing words down on a blank piece of paper that have anything to do with the subject I’m writing about helps to start to get ideas flowing.
I like the concepts presented in this post. I often find that when I’m stuck with writer’s block (whether it’s writing for my blog or writing new pieces for slam poetry) the documentary tip really helps! Opening my eyes to a world other than mine always makes me want to say something about everything!
I’d like to get into reading more, though. When I was younger, I used to spend hours in the library reading every book on the shelves. Now, I spend hours in the library studying for tests. I haven’t leisurely read a book in years. =/
-Stephanie from Chocolate Laced
I go on nature walks! Sounds totally dorky, and it probably is, but it clears my head and allows room for new and exciting ideas to come in.
Love your list too, Sarah! Great tips.
All great points! I’m usually easily inspired, so it’s not too huge of a problem getting the “juices” to flow lol. However, just to unwind and recharge – numbers 3 and 8 work wonders for me!
awesome post, it’s true I find myself completely distracted with my electronics, I need to try this out. Thanks for the post!! xx
I watch documentaries. I would strongly recommend “Only when I dance” which is about Rio De Janeiro teenagers who are ballerinas! Did you ever connect favelas and ballet? The film made me cry from joy and sorrow and made me realize that not having $1250 Valentino shoes is not a thought to entertain.
All these are golden.
I need to schedule a get-together with my friends ASAP 😀 .
Very insightful and totally helpful. Will definitely be trying some of these out next time I need ’em! 🙂
Thank you for these amazing insights! They really helped me, I was feeling a bit un-creative these days too, thanks again!
-Krystin Tysire xo
These are great suggestions! Sometimes especially new bloggers can spend hours checking their blog to see if ppl have peaked an interest and it can get frustrating but addictive. Its good to take some time away and remember the inspiration and love for blogging that drives us, rather than putting all our attention towards our blog followers numbers.
Excellent encouraging information .. especially 1, 6 and 8. I garden quite a bit so #2 is a natural for me.
Energizing information .. thanks!
swim. stare at the black line and let your mind wander. ideas are plentiful when your head is empty.
Excellent post and gave me some new ideas.
I thought I would share mine. This may be strange, but this gives me a breakthrough when I’m stuck. Mind you, it may take 30-90 mins to get the juices flowing for a breakthrough.
I watch a movie on mute and have music from Pandora playing on my headphones. I choose to play trance music and the movie is usually a 90%+ rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes with lots of action.
I go unplugged as well. Airplane mode on iPhone and WI-FI turned off on my MacBook Pro.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
– Swat Khan