Most artists and other creatives are driven to create for the pure enjoyment of being creative. When creating art loses its spark, doing what we used to love becomes a source of stress and frustration. The best way to overcome that block and stimulate our inspiration is to simply relax and have fun.
Modern society’s emphasis on productivity is often out of alignment with our drive to create, since the key to creation lies in the process. The true reward of creating is the act itself, therefore the methods to stimulate creativity should also be fun and rewarding.
1. Broaden your horizons.
To be inspired, your mind must be open. This usually involves stepping outside of your comfort zone. To expand your mind, you have to broaden your own experience. This will require you to be adventurous, push your own boundaries and explore new perspectives.
Do something new and exciting, especially if it scares you a little. Facing this fear and moving to the other side will give you a boost of dopamine and increase your confidence, which will in turn boost your creativity. Whether it’s taking a day trip and exploring a new town, going skydiving for the first time, or joining a club and meeting new people, the excitement will stimulate your mind and get the juices flowing.
Is there something new that you’d like to learn? Sign up for a class or watch some tutorials online. You can explore new perspectives by reading a type of literature or listening to a podcast that you would normally pass up for something more familiar. Anything that interests or excites you, but you’ve been hesitant to try, can open up the flow of creativity in your life.
2. Make time for play.
We become so enmeshed in the tedious routines of adulthood that many of us don’t know how to play anymore. To play means to engage in an activity simply for enjoyment and without expectation of a practical outcome. It’s a practice of freedom and pleasure.
Take time to laugh and be your silliest, most unbound self. Make a finger painting. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Jump in puddles. In order to access our purest creative energy, we have to let go of what we think society expects of us. Reclaiming our creativity involves reclaiming what we once thought we had lost. By engaging in play, we shut off the pesky inner critic and open ourselves up to wonder and inspiration.
3. Step away from the screens.
Society seems to tell us that in order to contribute value, we must be connected and productive at all times. We’re constantly over-stimulated, day in and day out, due to the demands and distractions of our modern world. Whether through catching up on work emails or scrolling through social media, many of us feel tied to our electronic devices.
It’s no wonder we feel uninspired when faced with a constant barrage of words and images from outside of ourselves. This unending stimulation affects our brains’ ability to produce feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. By giving our minds time to rest and restore balance, we improve our mental health and open up space for inspiration.
One of the easiest and healthiest ways to disconnect is to get out into nature. Just be sure to leave your smartphone in the car or turn on airplane mode. Try listening to a beautiful piece of music at home, light some candles and take a relaxing bath. Make space to daydream or meditate. By taking time to step within and listen, we can tap into a deeper source of creativity.
4. Record your thoughts and ideas.
How many times have you had a spark of inspiration that you wish you would have written down or recorded? How many great ideas that you didn’t record do you actually remember? Through the practice of taking notes, you increase your capacity for listening and seeing.
It’s important to get into the habit of recording all of your thoughts and ideas, so you don’t miss the opportunity to explore those nuggets that could lead to bigger things. No matter how silly or mundane these might seem, record them. Make a quick sketch, record a little ditty, or jot down some lines. Just make sure you get it down. Try to avoid using your smartphone for this, as it could serve as a distraction.
5. Get moving.
Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and enhances your mood and cognitive function. Activities that involve muscle coordination, like dancing, yoga, or even walking, help to enhance neural connections and increase communication between the brain’s hemispheres, thus strengthening your ability to create. When the right side of your brain is communicating with the left side, ideas can be made concrete.
6. Make time to be creative.
You’re probably not going to create much if you don’t make time for it. This may sound like a drag if you’re feeling creatively stuck, but by practicing play and broadening your horizons, you’ve already primed yourself for this step.
Some people swear by a strict routine where they are at their workspace, rain or shine, and creating for a set amount of time. Others may do better with a more flexible routine, like setting a goal for x amount of hours each week or just setting aside a couple of nights to work on something creative.
You don’t have to work on your passion project every night if that’s not what suits you. Don’t have the energy to work on your novel? Try writing a song. Can’t face the easel tonight? Make a piece of jewelry. Just make time to create, and enjoy the process.
Creativity is freedom of expression. It's fun and enlivening to create something simply for the joy of creating. It's easy to lose our passion for what we once loved as we deal with the realities of day to day life. Regaining our confidence and inspiration should be easy and fun.