Working in a creative industry can be a fulfilling experience, as you’re able to bring forth something within you to the outside world to share with others. All those ideas in your head can turn into something beautiful, because you have the drive to create. But sometimes when you need that creative spark, it just isn’t there.
What then? How do you bring back the creative spark? Here are some of our methods:
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that applies even to parts of ourselves. Being away from your creative space rather than forcing yourself to try and churn something out might have you missing your tools or your office and itching to dive back into things.
This is not always an option (deadlines—argh!) but if you can, we recommend spending some time away from your own creativity. It will come back. Sometimes you just need to stop looking for it.
2. Try something new
Try something new that’s outside of your creative field. If you’re a sewist who’s always found embroidery interesting but have never tried it, now’s the time. Go out and buy a hoop and some threads, and ride that wave of excitement.
When you’re starting out in something new, you’ll find you can actively watch yourself grow and achieve challenging but attainable goals that you’ve set for yourself. Doing this will give you a creative high that you might just be able to use in your regular field to motivate yourself.
3. Do some research
Research has a bad rap. Don’t think about research as something you’re forced to do just to make sure you’re bored out of your mind. Think about research as an opportunity to discover exciting new ideas or techniques. Learning more about the world can be an endless source of inspiration as you explore what’s possible. And then when you start to ponder your next project, you’ll have a larger knowledge base to pull ideas from.
It may seem obvious for a painter to visit an art gallery when they’re feeling the need for inspiration, but we suggest consuming media both within and out of your usual field. Watch a movie, read a book, or find a new musical artist to listen to. You can note what other creatives like you are doing and what works for them, but you can study completely different creatives and what you like about their processes and how they might translate to your work.
Pull out some of your old projects or look over your portfolio. Most likely, you’ve improved since you first started your creative journey, and can point out things in your past work that you would do differently now. Understanding how much you’ve grown over time can sometimes give a renewed sense of motivation as it inspires hope for future progress.
6. Brain dump
Brain dumping encourages you to get down every thought and idea in your head on a particular topic without any critique. Writer’s block often comes from high expectations, but with brain dumping there isn’t any.
Get a notebook and literally write every thought that comes to you. You might have more doodles than words, and that’s ok. It might not make any sense. It probably won’t. That’s ok. There doesn’t need to be any order or neatness.
This can help you prioritise or work through things that have been weighing on your mind, or give you some little nuggets of an idea that you can expand into a fully-fledged concept for the project you want to work on.
7. Keep going
This list contains our suggestions for lighting a creative spark, but it’s even more important to keep that energy going in the long run. Are you the kind of person who never finishes what they start? If you are, it’s time to start building more healthy habits.
After the initial burst of energy or inspiration, you can try to keep the energy going by repeating some of these methods that work for you until you’re satisfied with your work. Instead of losing focus by starting a new project without finishing your previous one, just keep a notepad for you to jot down new ideas as they come to you.
We hope this list helped you get out of the rut you’re in and find that sometimes-elusive “creative spark”. Everybody gets caught in moments like these and we just want to help out our fellow creatives because we understand the frustration. If all else fails, another cup of coffee probably won’t hurt. We’re cheering for you!