For the past couple months since creating this blog, I’ve written all of my posts in a flurry of excitement and creative energy, unable to fall asleep until I finish typing the very last sentence at around 2:00 AM. But this is not one of those nights, and it frightens me. On this night, my mind is blank, and I feel completely blah. I’m sure I’ll still be up until the wee hours of the morning, but it will be for a very different reason. I’ll be trying to get my idea mojo back.
Feeling uninspired is incredibly common in creative communities, but that doesn’t make the experience any less panic-inducing. And even if you aren’t an artsy type or working in a creative industry, we all have those moments in life where everything fades to gray. We can’t help but think, “How long will I feel like this? What if I never think up a great idea again? I don’t want to be boring and unoriginal.” Trust me, I’m right there with ya! So what should you do when your creative juices stop flowing momentarily? Here are five of my favorite inspiration sources that I’ll be using to get out of this rut:
1. Listen to a few uplifting TED Talks.
I’m basically obsessed with TED [Technology, Entertainment, & Design]. Where else can you find hours upon hours of inspirational, mind-expanding speeches that simultaneously warm the heart and make you feel like an engaged, global citizen? Yes, you will need to dedicate about 20 minutes of your time per TED Talk, but you’ll usually gain so much in return. These filmed speeches have allowed me to discover some of my favorite authors, have given me amazing new insights into the human experience, and have pushed me to want to jump up and make changes in my life. I’d call that getting out of a rut! Though you should definitely check out your own topics of interest, here are a few Talks that have influenced me the most:
- The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown (An author I adore)
- Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – Amy Cuddy
- Your Elusive Creative Genius – Elizabeth Gilbert (Fitting, am I right?)
2. Create something using a different medium than you’re used to.
Step outside of your normal comfort zone to create something new and exciting. It probably won’t be a masterpiece, as it’s not in your area of expertise, so don’t concentrate on trying to create perfection. You just want it to be fresh and not the same old stuff. If you’re into writing, try making a short film on your point-and-shoot camera instead. Enjoy playing guitar? Try writing your own song lyrics about something you’re going through right now. Love coming up with vegan dinner recipes? Figure out how to make the most delicious breakfast smoothie your taste buds have ever experienced instead. Is your favorite hobby wakeboarding? Try kiteboarding for a different take on a similar sport. You get my point. After trying out a new medium, you’ll likely have refreshed excitement for your creative outlet of choice and plenty of new ideas to keep you going for a while.
3. Give your brain some time to relax.
Sometimes feeling uninspired is just your subconscious’s way of screaming, “I NEED A DAMN BREAK.” We live in such a fast-paced, information overloaded society that our minds eventually have a way of overheating and crashing. It shouldn’t be a shock that our brains need a breath of fresh air sometimes. If you feel like this is part of your problem, go on a mini digital detox. As soon as you get home from work, turn off the social media apps on your phone, and keep the TV off and the computer closed. I know this sounds incredibly difficult, because we’re all so connected to our various devices these days. But we all need a break. So what do you do once the house is still and silent except for those pesky cricket chirps? As they like to say in one of my favorite TV shows, (Yes, I’ll have to shut off Parks & Recreation too) – “Treat yo self!”
I’m not personally into retail therapy, but I do believe we all need to treat ourselves to a day of relaxation when we’re feeling burnt out. So do whatever that means for you! A long walk in a park? Treat yo self! Chat with your best friend over coffee? Treat yo self! A candlelit bubble bath? Treat yo self! Whatever it is, make it a time to enjoy life and to disconnect from the information overload that’s clouding your mind.
4. Free write or journal.
This one is simple- just write. Don’t try and make it sound pretty or have a cohesive story line. In fact, if it doesn’t read like the ramblings of a madman, then you’re doing it wrong! Grab a pencil and a pad of paper, and literally start writing about the very first thing that pops into your head. It could be about anything from the lunch you ate that day to the way your coworker pissed you off in a meeting last week. Just write anything about it! The instant that a new idea string materializes in your brain, feel free to go off writing on that tangent. Be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you’d like. The point is to write without barriers, and let your subconscious take over with what it wants to say. You might form with a new idea based off of your ramblings, or perhaps you’ll end up seeing a problem from a different perspective that your conscious mind wouldn’t allow you to see.
5. Begin a passion-filled quest with clear parameters.
If the above inspiration sources aren’t drastic enough for you, maybe it’s time for you to pull out the big guns and start on your own quest. This idea was a major inspiration for me after I watched this interview with two of my favorites, Chris Guillebeau and Marie Forleo. In the talk, Chris discusses topics from his new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, which goes into how quests can play an important role in creating happiness in our lives. You’ll get much more from watching the interview, but basically, I want to ask: What creative quest can you start yourself on today that will provide you with more meaning and purpose in your day-to-day life?
This quest needs a start and end date with clear goals and parameters. It also needs to be a challenge for you, so that you’ll be pushing yourself to grow. For instance, a quest shouldn’t be, “I want to visit a lot of countries.” Instead, it should be, “I want to visit 100 countries before my 40th birthday.” That’s a clear, measurable goal. But a quest doesn’t have to be as big or expensive as traveling all over the world! It could be, “I will learn 1,000 songs on my ukulele and post a recording of each one online before January 1st, 2020.” Whatever floats your boat! The point of this being a great source of inspiration is that if you dedicate yourself to a quest based on your passions, then you’ll be held accountable to keep creating even in your most blah moments. Sometimes, all we need is a little push and a goal to focus our efforts on.
I hope that you’ll find your creative juices replenished after trying some, or all, of these inspiration building activities! I know that I’m feeling super pumped up after writing this, so maybe that’s all I needed. And if that’s not enough, I get to meet Chris Guillebeau tonight while he’s in Atlanta! So excited to ask him a million questions about quests! Anyway, please let me know how you refresh your brain when dealing with a creative block. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. :)
Have a wonderful day,