How to Find Inspiration When You’re Stuck in a Creative Slump
Doesn’t it seem like creativity abandons us when we need it the most? Too often, I’ve been left in the dust feeling uninspired, unmotivated and unable to produce anything meaningful at the absolute worst time. You know, like the day before a MAJOR project is due that you planned to spend all day working on, or when you have to get your content written and you find yourself staring at a blank screen for nearly an hour.
A lot of people ask me how I cultivate creativity and what my creative process looks like. And honestly, it’s never the same! If you’re reading this you’ve probably found yourself in a similar situation – If so, I’ve been there and I feel your pain.
Here are 6 simple ways to find inspiration when you’re stuck in a creative slump.
1. Take a Walk
Step away from your work space, unplug, and spend some time in nature. Even a short break and light activity can help you refocus. As you walk, make the effort to get out of your own head to take notice of the beauty that’s present around you. It might sound cheesy, but inspiration is anywhere! This is probably my all-time favorite way to boost creativity.
A few things I like to do on my walks to get out of “work mode”:
- Take my dogs with me, either to the park, the beach or just around the block (depending on where I’m living at the time!) They definitely keep my hands full and my mind off work. The supermodel in the pic above is Kira back in Florianópolis when the beach was my backyard, which made walking a breeze!
- Listen to a non-work related audiobook or podcast. A walk is a time for you to reset, and although self-improvement and productivity tips are great, when you’re uninspired they might put more pressure on you and make you feel worse about your slump. So whether you’re a fantasy, sci-fi, historical or non-fiction, this is the time to indulge yourself! Right now, I’m in the middle of Phillip Pullman’s Book of Dust (because I’m a HUGE Golden Compass fan)
- A little exercise I call “the noticing game” – I know the name isn’t that original, but it’s pretty self-explanatory! As you walk, try to pay attention to the small things around you. It’s amazing how much we take for granted in this wild world! When you really pay attention, something as simple as ants on the sidewalk can seem so incredible. I personally like to focus on noticing the beauty around me, because it helps give me inspiration for my design projects (and appreciate my surroundings a little bit more). The great thing about this is you could be living in an urban jungle and still find so many cool things to focus on!
2. Listen to Good Tunes (and Dance!)
If you’re feeling stuck, turn off your computer and turn on your go-to playlist. Immerse yourself in your favorite songs, grab your hairbrush-microphone and dance like no one’s watching. Taking a mental break, letting loose and getting in a positive state of mind can increase motivation to explore new ideas.
You can use this time to expel all your frustration, negative emotions, or anything that’s been bothering you. Think of it like dance therapy. Remember that songs from when you were a kid, “shake the sillies out” ? That’s kind of how I see these dance sessions – literally shaking off all the things that don’t serve you and warming yourself up to some new ideas & inspiration.
My favorite? Stevie Nicks dance session starting with “Rhiannon”, the live version from Burbank, CA in 1972. Works every single time!
3. Work on Personal Projects
It may sound counter-intuitive, but if the pressure of a looming deadline or the weight of a major project is really getting to you, push it aside for a moment in favor of something you’re passionate about. It’s okay to take time away from stressful assignments to work on a personal project for a bit – chances are, the creativity you apply to your passion project will help spark some ideas for that assignment that’s had you stumped for weeks.
True story – personal projects got me my very first dream client! And I still do personal projects all the time. I have wayyyy too many domain names that I will probably never use because of personal projects. But when I’m feeling unmotivated or out of ideas, working on something that’s fun for me usually gets the juices flowing so I can jump back into my deadline work with new energy (and inspiration).
4. Create a Mood Board
Whether you choose Pinterest to curate photos, quotes and designs that support your vision, or prefer to go the old school route by cutting images out of magazines, having a visual representation of your idea is the best way to prevent creative slumps. Each time you’re in a rut, revisit your mood board to remind yourself of the initial creative vision that excited you about your project in the first place.
Or, you can take this time to create a new mood board! Maybe just browsing Pinterest or your content source of choice is all you need to give you some new ideas. I use Pinterest all the time to get inspiration for design projects, especially when I feel stuck and need some layout inspiration.
5. Talk it Out
Sometimes, a creative slump is caused by being unable to make sense of all of the disorganized and fragmented ideas you may have. Talking through your ideas with someone supportive can help you understand the chaos swirling around in your mind, allowing you to finally decipher what your next creative project may be.
Not in the mood to talk? Spend time journaling instead. If you’re a list-maker, go ahead and make that list of everything that’s on your mind. The important thing is to get it out of your head and onto the paper so you can make room for new ideas and inspiration to come forth.
6. Shake Things Up
A change of pace can make all the difference. If you typically work from home, head to the coffee shop you’ve always wanted to try or the new bookstore that just opened down the street.
Breaking out of your daily routine and doing something as simple as working in a new environment can inspire new ideas.
“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda
Do you feel inspired yet? Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for sparking creativity, and don’t forget to pin this for the next time you find yourself in a rut!