Creativity is required in every profession in some way or another whether you’re an entrepreneur, researcher, writer, designer or accountant. You’re always thinking about your job, tasks and coming up with new ideas that yield results. Constantly creating can be tiring. There are days when innovation comes easy to you but there are days where you feel completely uninspired. Sometimes all it takes are a few simple steps to reignite that fire and find your creative footing again.
What are creativity and inspiration?
Creativity is quite a broad term but one that encapsulates a lot of processes. Creativity is using your imagination and ideas to form something new or valuable. It’s how we perceive the world, how we interact with each other, make connections between things and identify patterns. Creativity can manifest itself in anything and everything and is often what individuals and organisations strive for. Inspiration, ideation and implementation are the three areas of creativity that lead to solutions.
Inspiration is typically the first process of creativity. This is where you identify a problem which motivates you to find the solution. This could simply be a question someone asks you, an observation you make or a conversation with someone that produces actionable insights. So many things can stunt your inspiration process. Your mental health, personal relationships, workload, current events and even the weather can put you in the wrong headspace to think creatively. It’s important not to get caught up in the inspiration element of creativity. You can move through inspiration, ideation and implementation at any point to keep exploring and developing ideas. Some may work and some may not, but you should always take stock of how you’re feeling in that moment and try to reconnect to the bigger picture. Here are six ways to find creativity during an uninspiring time.
It’s okay to take a break
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be creative all the time. Your brain needs time off to relax and re-energise in order to think and produce creatively. Burnout occurs when you feel immense pressure to achieve something. You may feel like if you stop or slow down you’ll lose momentum altogether and won’t be able to start again. This won’t happen. If you have the passion to create you’ll be able to pick yourself up and carry on. Spend time with your family and friends, do something you enjoy, spend time outdoors and consume the content you find interesting and learn from. The break period doesn’t have to be long – it can be a day, two days, a week or maybe more. It’s as long as it takes for you to reconnect and feel refreshed.
Write your ideas down
Keep a physical journal of your thoughts, ideas, quotes, questions and drawings. Your notes can be anything including what you’ve done that day, what you want to achieve tomorrow, what you ate or what you saw. Keeping a journal may seem like another thing you don’t have time for in your day but it will be really beneficial to your creative process. It gets out the things in your head and enables you to see them on paper. Use it as a place to refer to when you need to remind yourself how creative you actually are. There may be things in there you’ve forgotten and things you never got round to doing. By reading over your notes and adding new ones, you could develop an idea you really want to progress.
Collaborate with other people
When you spend so much time in your own head your judgement can become clouded by your own thoughts. Opening up the conversation to other people will share that burden and invite new insights into your creative process. The people you speak to don’t always have to be your colleagues or the team you’re surrounded by at work. Get an outside perspective on your work from people whose opinions you trust and value. This could be your friends, family and even your social media network. Ask them for their thoughts and opinions, ask questions and see how they respond. Learn what they believe, think, want or need. This will hopefully generate some important insights you can start developing further.
Observe your surroundings
When you’re experiencing an uninspiring period of time, you can lose interest in the things around you. Whether it’s your usual hobbies and pastimes or the work you’re currently producing. Head outside and try to experience something different from your usual routine. This could be a new exercise, hobby, walk route or cuisine. Opening up your mind to different things and observing your surroundings may help to generate new thoughts. You could overhear a conversation, see a cool advertisement or notice something you haven’t spotted before. You can learn a lot when you take a moment to observe.
Look at your competitors
Seeing what your competitors are doing may seem counterintuitive. You want to create something original and unique and looking at what people have already done might distract you from that. Remember that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Often looking at what other organisations, brands and professionals have done enables you to see if you can do it better. You can explore where they went wrong, how you can improve their ideas and the direction in which you can take an idea. You don’t have to copy them, you can just draw on their stories to define your own. Try to explore different industries and professions too. You may see some patterns and connections that you can make among these different creative outlets.
Get good sleep
Fatigue is detrimental to creativity. There’s no way you can feel inspired if you’re completely burnt out. Make sure you prioritise getting a good night’s sleep every day so you can feel refreshed in the morning. You may have some thoughts appear while you’re in bed so get your notebook and write them down. If you take time to rest and recuperate, your physical and mental health will improve significantly.
Finding creativity when you feel uninspired doesn’t have to be hard, you just need to know where to look. Taking a break often puts your mind back in order and enables you to find your focus again. Taking notes and collaborating with others are great ways to develop your ideas and learn new things from those around you. Observing your surroundings and researching your competitors will give you valuable insights into what has and hasn’t been done before. Sleeping on it will allow you to energise your body and mind so you can continue your creative process with commitment.