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If you’re using your creative brain constantly, like any muscle, it will eventually get overtired and need some R&R.
But say you have a deadline and you need to be firing on all four cylinders. What are some ways that you can stay enthusiastic and inspired without losing the plot?
Whether it’s an article, a design brief, or any other artistic project you’re struggling to progress, here are some tried and true methods for getting back on track.
1. Don’t blame your tools
They might just be what you need to inspire you. These days you don’t have to rely on a pad and pen for your tool kit. There are some fun apps that allow you to write, sketch, illustrate ‘til your heart’s content. Trying something new and forcing your process away from the norm can give your creativity a much needed boost.
2. The early bird catches the worm
Many people are at their most productive in the morning. Even if you’re not typically a morning person, try getting up an hour earlier so you can have some uninterrupted creative time. Leaving creative endeavors until the late afternoon or early evening may not be the best use of your time.
In the evening, you’re also relying on your brain to remain focused as dinner time approaches. Good luck with that!
3. Set achievable goals
You know the saying “How do you eat an elephant? With a spoon”. The same applies to creative tasks.
By setting small achievable goals you can get a lot done. If you’re really not feeling it, even 5 minutes of creative time is better than nothing. You might be surprised what you can pull out of the bag when you really focus your attention.
Have a read of our article on Time Management Tips to Boost Your Productivity. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to focus your creative attention on the task at hand.
4. Explore your opposite
If the ideas aren’t flowing, then try warming up your creative muscles by using the opposite side of your brain. Try switching up your medium – writing if you’re a designer, and drawing if you’re a writer.
Another trick is to use your non-dominant hand to jot down ideas and images. This is an exercise often used by creative writing classes.
Laughing out loud is a form of stress relief, and it can also free up your creativity. I don’t recommend you LOL in a library or cafe, but if you’re working from home give a loud laugh and see if it releases any creative energy.
6. Do a warm up
Sometimes creativity can be like starting a car on a cold morning. You need to warm it up so it runs better. If you’re struggling to come up with words or images, then here are a few exercises you can do:
- Record what you’re seeing and experiencing right now.
- Go for a walk and take pictures of random things.
- Wireframe the work of a designer you admire.
- Write someone else’s words.
- Sketch a picture you like.
7. Avoid the blank page
A blank page is like starting over from scratch, but leaving a sentence unfinished can help you pick up right where you left off. Author Ernest Hemingway used to stop writing mid-sentence so he didn’t have to face a blank page the next day – so why not give it a try if you want to avoid a potential creative block?
8. Change your work environment
Inspiration may not be coming to you at your desk. But it might if you work in the library, sketch on the train or brainstorm at a cafe down the road. A different vibe can often give rise to a whole host of new ideas.
9. Leave room for inspiration
Here’s a good tip for dealing with a creative block. Set aside a block of time for writing, say four hours. But if you can’t write or don’t feel like writing, then don’t do other things to fill in the time, like write emails, read a book or surf social media. You should just do nothing and leave room for inspiration.
10. Take time out
Too many projects on the go can quickly lead to creative burnout. If you can’t move past a creative block then take some ‘me time’ to recover for a couple of days. For creatives, a digital detox, some peaceful meditation or a walk in nature could be just what the doctor ordered.
Whatever you do to get back on track, the important thing isn’t to judge yourself for getting off track in the first place. Even the most famous authors and artists suffered from creative block every now and again!
Check out our article on staying productive when you work from home, it has some further tips that creatives can benefit from.
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