Do you ever feel like you’re in a creative rut? Nothing you put down on paper or canvas or whatever outlet you prefer is good enough, or maybe you just stare at a blank space with no idea how to fill it up the way you usually do. It happens to the best of us and it sucks.
When you can’t get the wheels going, it can feel pretty hopeless. But it doesn’t have to! Stay inspired and creative – here are my favorite ways to jumpstart the process. Inspiration is everywhere, but occasionally you gotta dig for it.
1. Have an orgasm. Hey, I’m just saying that sometimes that kind of relief can spark your flame.
2. Call someone you love. Chatting with a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile or a close relative will sometimes bring about stories, memories and anecdotes you can use in your artistic pursuits. Sometimes I write down little things my friends have said and use them later.
3. Go for a walk. Get outside. Sweat a little. Look around at nature and get inspired by the weather, the environment or the people around you. There’s a reason that tons of poets and artists wrote about the world outdoors!
4. Change your look. OK, this is drastic, but I just cut off most of my hair (about four inches) and I feel so much lighter and more free that it’s sparking a change in my writing.
5. Listen to your favorite albums. I find that Leonard Cohen, Fiona Apple and sometimes even Taylor Swift help me formulate ideas and get them down on paper. You know when you have your Spotify on and you’re not really listening to it but then suddenly a lyric jumps out at you and suddenly you’re spinning tales in your brain? That’s the magic of music.
6. Go on a tech detox for an hour or two. Spend some time with yourself, whether that’s meditating, taking a bath, taking yourself out to dinner or whatever else you fancy. No Twitter, no Instagram, no texting – just let yourself be present.
7. Get out of your comfort zone. A new experience is always worthwhile and can occasionally bring a new perspective.
8. Go thrifting or antiquing. I always find inspiration when I’m sifting through strangers’ belongings at a thrift/antique store. I like to imagine who owned the astrology books and pretty teacups I’ve just purchased. Plus, there are so many people wandering through thrift stores to watch!
9. Take a drive. What is it about driving? I get my best writing ideas behind the wheel. Drive around the block, visit a small town, whatever. Do it Sunday style, nice and slow, and look around at what’s going on.
10. Keep a journal/notebook/phone Notes with you 24/7 so you can jot down ideas as you have them. Sometimes I revisit old notes and scrawlings and am re-inspired all over again!
11. Read. Read everything! This sounds basic, but it’s totally true. When I feel stuck, I like to read short stories and poems. I downloaded the PoemHunter app for my phone and read a new poem every day; sometimes, I don’t realize they’ve inspired me until a few days later. Read something every single day, and that does not mean Twitter. Revisit your old favorites and try to find something new in them.
12. Get a little drunk or a little stoned. OK, maybe this isn’t my best advice, but once in awhile I have a few too many glasses of wine and then BAM, next thing I know I’m at the computer pouring out my heart. Just make sure to edit the next day.
13. Ask a family member to tell you some old family stories. If your fam is anything like mine, there’s likely some good family lore that needs to be told. I’m waiting for the final approval to write the story of the Nesvig clan, because it’s pretty crazy.
14. Visit with someone whose work you admire. Maybe that’s an old TA who is now a respected author – hey, you still have his email! Or maybe you’ve reached out to someone you like on Twitter and they don’t mind you bending their ear. Maybe it’s a local musician. Someone else’s perspective and advice is consistently valuable.
15. Look at Instagram. Follow artists, writers, stores, interior designers, musicians, models, clothing designers … anyone you admire. Try to get inspired visually, or challenge yourself to create something based on a photo you saw.
16. Exercise! Step away from what’s bothering you and exercise for 15 minutes. I don’t care if you’re dancing to “Shake It Off.” Just move around, get your blood going and then come back to your work. Don’t force it.