I’ll admit it, I thought about writing this in February and just didn’t quite get it published. Winter has never been my most creative or industrious season and perk up at the first sign of Spring. Normally Spring is glorious, but since we’re all social distancing Spring’s lost a lot of it glory. My family and I live near Seattle so we are being extra careful and self-quarantining more intensely than many folks, so even though it’s Spring, it still feels like a long, dreadful Winter here.
To go from the cold and dark days of Winter, when there’s not much happening socially and my motivation is in a slump, to the virus lockdown has seriously shut down my creativity. To help with this predicament, I’ve come up with 7 tips and tricks to help pullout of a rut when our brains and creative energy feel blocked.
- Get some Fresh Air. It is certainly the most challenging time that I can remember to get a nature fix in, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not important part of nourishing our bodies, minds, and souls. Bundle up if it’s chilly in your area and take a walk outside (preferably without a phone in your face or noise in your ears), taking notice of the trees, sky, animals, and foliage in all their inspirational glory. On nature walks, as well as with any creativity-sparking endeavor, it always helps to have a journal on hand to jot down the thoughts and ideas that are sure to come your way.
- Have a New Experience. During non-COVID-19 times this can be as simple as taking the bus to an undiscovered part of town or trying out a new class, or as big as jet-setting to foreign lands. But now, I’d suggest to take advantage of the many free online options that are being offered. Two favorite free offerings that I’ve seen are Bluprint Creative Learning and Broadway Shows from Broadway HD. Or head to an unpopulated area near by and get a hike in. The point is, when our brains are on autopilot, with the same schedules and surroundings every day, it can be hard to spark creative thoughts. I personally tend to do my best writing when I’m on vacation and inspiration can to be found around every unknown corner.
- Visit a Virtual Library or Bookstore. It is probably no surprise that I love libraries and bookstores, and really, who doesn’t? Not only do I find it incredible to peruse the boundless subjects and authors available, my creativity is always sparked by one or two books or periodicals I happen upon. And since traveling to have a new experience isn’t in the cards at the moment, a book can be a great substitute, transporting readers to another place and time, unlocking new thoughts and ideas.
- Creativity Combo: Cardio + a Hot Shower. I know this sounds a little funny, but I get some of my best ideas during both high-intensity cardio and hot showers, so putting the two together (which is often a necessity) is a knock-out creativity combination. I’m inclined to believe this is because both of these activities calm my thoughts, opening up space for new concepts, and I emerge refreshed and ready to put in some great work.
- “Tell” a Story to a Friend. This idea can be taken literally or figuratively, both often resulting in creative ideas. FaceTiming with a friend to brainstorm concepts, or really even just talk about life, yours and theirs, can spark ideas and give you a new perspective. If you’d like to try a group brainstorming session, check out Zoom’s free accounts. As a blog writer, I also use this tactic figuratively when I’m at a loss for new ideas, writing “faux” letters to a friends about anything that comes to mind, because sometimes you just need to get something down on paper, be it a sketch or a written entry, to get a flow of thoughts started.
- Refresh Your Workspace. The more enjoyable our workspaces are, the more we’re going to want to get down to business. Desks often feel like a canvas to drop everything that needs doing. Give this creativity-killing clutter the boot by addressing your to-do pile, or finding a more appropriate and organized solution for your stuff. Upgrade any tired supplies or technology with simple steps such as tossing the hundreds of mismatched pens for a fancy new set, or splurging on a new wireless mouse. Additionally, adding a little beauty to your space, be it a vase of flowers, a new plant, or a meaningful piece of artwork can lift spirits and inspire us to create a little beauty of our own. Check out our Office Tour post for some inspiration!
- Revisit Your Role Models. Most of us have someone we look up to in our careers or creative endeavors. For me this is Jene-Godfrey June, Beauty Editor at Goop, who started her career as a young fashion writer by sending unsolicited articles (which got published!) to Vogue, and Martha Stewart (I know big shocker), who was in her early 40’s when she got started in the publishing world. When in a rut with one’s career or creativity, revisiting the stories of those who inspire us can be the kick in the pants we need to get back in our groove. If you’re lucky enough to have a relationship with a role model/mentor, it might simply be time to reconnect over a cup of coffee.
It’s pretty impossible these day to avoid feeling a little uninspired. But we all need to lean into Positive Mindset and getting out of your rut with my 7 tips to unblock your creative energy is a great place to start. And, if all else fails, there’s always Pinterest or Youtube 😉!
All photography by Nicole Vaughn.