As creatives, there are struggles we have that others don’t see as problems. If your professional work is creative, people think it’s easy to “just” dream up ideas, “just” take pictures of stuff, or “just” paint, write, or draw all day. Inspiration for those wonderful ideas has to come from somewhere, and some days you’re tapped out. Here are four ways that help me stay creative that might help you too.
Fill yourself up with the work of other artists not in your genre.
If you’re a writer like me, soak up paintings. If you’re an illustrator, watch movie shorts made on iPhones, so on and so forth. Actively cross-pollinating between other expressions of art gives you larger stash to draw from when you need an idea. You never know when the wire sculpture you admired will come back to you in another form you can use in your own work.
Take a praise break to dance it out.
Listening to 90s music always does it for me, especially new jack swing. And, I love rap old and new. Someone is always saying something in a completely absurd way, which encourages me to have fun with words. Plus, the solution always shows up after you’ve let go of thinking about the problem. So, go ahead, dance it out. Especially if you work from home (or have a door on your office). Club Living Room is always the answer.
People watch like a creeper.
Staying creative means you need to come up with ideas that resonate and reach people on an emotional level. So, what better way to fill your creative well than to people watch. My favorite place for this is Union Square Park. There are so many different people doing different things. Some are playing catch with a football, others are chanting and some are skateboarding. Find a place where theres a good mix of energy, like a downtown area on a weekend. Watch people. Notice that purple scarf. Make up a back story about that canoodling couple. Sketch the swirly shape of that woman’s hair as the wind blows through it.
Meet with a friend over coffee and just talk.
Talk about crazy conspiracy theories. Draw hilarious stick figures on a napkin. Talk about fate and the wonders of the Universe. Let the caffeine take the conversation completely off the wall. And laugh. Laugh a lot. What makes this tactic even better is a friend of mine that is knowledgeable about a different industry. I ask them about it. As a bonus, I get a crash course in how they mentally approach their work. Not only does this add coins to the bank, the info they share can guide you into new ways of thinking about your own projects. Plus, you’ve spent one-on-one time with a friend. I consider that a definite win-win.
The ongoing task of staying creative is doable if you’re willing to step away from the desk, get out of your own head–tough, I know!–and notice all the good stuff happening around you.