Sometimes we look up and realize we're just checking off tasks, going through the motions and getting through our days with little to no creative expression. Ugh. When we decide we will be intentional about expressing our creative side and set out to create something, there's a big, fat silence in the muse department. Where is the inspiration? How do we get it to come back? A lot has been said about creating anyway and the inspiration will come (which is true!), but make sure you've ticked off some of these basics too or when inspiration comes looking for you, you won't even notice she's there.
If you're looking for ways to spark your creativity, see if making sure these things are in order doesn't do the trick!
Get Plenty of Sleep
After going a few rounds with kiddos who think 2 a.m. is party time and naps are for nobody, I quickly learned how much sleep deprivation can zap creativity from you. If you're studying into the early morning hours for final exams or learning how to survive the newborn days, don't expect creativity & productivity to be pouring out of you. Be gentle with yourself and know "this too shall pass." There will be days ahead full of opportunity to express yourself creatively so get the sleep you can and brainstorm all the things you can do right now as a creative outlet and all the things you want to do in the months ahead.
If you're staying out late every few nights because of a full and fun social life, or you're like me and tend to get defensive when Netflix asks for the third time if you're still watching, you probably won't be seeing your creative best on a regular basis.
Do you know how much sleep you need each night to feel well rested?
Do you get anywhere near that consistently?
Can you make any changes to your night or morning routines that would let you squeeze in some extra Zzzz's?
For the best creative bursts of energy, you need to have energy and brain space to carry out all those amazing ideas of yours. Sleep is one of the top ways you'll either gain that energy or lose it. If you're looking to spark your creativity, check in with your sleep habits and see where you can make some positive changes.
Get Plenty of (Good-For-You) Food
Drink more water, eat more vegetables. It's pretty simple, but sometimes it's not. Eating well isn't always convenient in our busy lives, chronic illness, allergies and intolerances can make just thinking of getting ingredients together exhausting. If you have the budget, look into those meal delivery services. If you don't have that kind of budget, set aside an afternoon to make a list of the foods you can (or want to) eat. From that list, think of ways you can put together some quick and easy meals you can pack or grab when your day is full. Plan an afternoon of preparing snacks and ingredients that are quick and easy for you to eat throughout the week.
Having meals and snacks planned and even some prepared make the week easier to manage, take some stress off your schedule and mind and helps you fill your body with what it needs to keep those creative vibes going strong.
Instagram is my favorite place to hang out in the social media world because my feed is filled with beautiful, encouraging and fun photos. So often I am inspired by the images I see to live a fuller life packed with creative experiences. Every now and then though, the comparison trap gets me and I find myself questioning my creativity, my skills and whether I belong in this group of amazing and talented people. Or maybe comparison isn't a problem, but scrolling endlessly keeps me distracted enough consuming the creativity of others that I never get to creating anything myself.
If you find yourself in one of these mindsets, it's time to log out. Go spend time doing something with your creative energy to dispel the Am I Enough? doubts or the problem of never getting around to creating your own art.
Sometimes what helps to shake some creative inspiration loose is to do something different from whatever your current creative efforts are. If you're an artist who paints, learn about hand embroidery. If you're a hand-letterer, learn how to create simple illustrations. What other creative activities interest you? Between YouTube, Skillshare, Brit + Co, A Beautiful Mess, Creative Bug and so many other online sources, there are countless ways to learn something new. Check out classes from artists like Alisa Burke and Caroline Kelso Zook.
Brainstorm a list of things you're curious about - maybe it's not a specific activity but a topic. Maybe you love star gazing. Meet up with a group that gets together to look at the stars or read about star patterns. Maybe it's family ancestry that interests you. Create an account at Ancestry.com, plug in a few details and discover a whole world of people you didn't know who brought you to where you are today.
Think about a new activity or interest you're curious about and follow that around for a while. The inspiration sparked by what you learn will last well into your next creative project and may just spark a new one!
We tend to be creatures of routine. We drive the same way to work or the grocery store, we walk the dog the same route each day. We don't often purposely veer off our Point A to Point B plans and that can hurt our creative spirit because we can grow numb to what is around us. It's all so familiar that we tune out the most amazing details. One day leave for work early and get there on different roads. If you take a dog on a daily walk, switch up the direction you usually go or go somewhere new altogether. Find a way to mix up the usual sights around you so you can take notice of the little things that can pass us by when we're not paying attention.
If you work from home or spend your days working as a stay-at-home mom, it's possible you don't leave the house for reasons that aren't obligations. Errands and meetings can sometimes be the only way we get any fresh air. To get some of that creative mojo going, take a walk, go to a museum, sit on the patio or go to the pool. Get some sunlight or fresh air at least and you'll find a renewed energy sitting back down to put yourself into a creative project!
While social media can get overwhelming, find the people online who make you feel encouraged in your creativity. Listen to their voices and seek them out when you're feeling like your creativity took a vacation. Look through magazines at a book store - be sure to find one that sells a wide variety from a bunch of different countries. Go to the library and look through the section that covers topics you're interested in relating to your creative projects or other interests. Take a nature walk, watch a documentary, join a local group of people doing something interesting and get inspired to go make something out of your experiences.
This last bit can seem the hardest sometimes. Even with our ideas, we face self-doubt, insecurity, the infamous imposter syndrome, time restraints, distractions, other obligations...the list goes on, right? If we want to live a creative life and make something out of the life we're living, we have to show up. We have to put pen to paper, paintbrush to canvas, fingers to keyboard, chalk to sidewalk...you get the picture. We can't just wait for creativity to send us the inspiration. We have to sit down (or get outside - wherever your interests, skills and opportunities take you) and do the work.
If you feel like creativity has been hit and miss lately, go through this list and check to see if you're getting enough sleep, eating well and finding inspiration in new places!