Creativity is like a muscle that needs regular exercise to get strong and stay strong, but its also like a muscle in that it needs to be fed to work. Just like you can’t starve yourself and expect to get stronger (no matter how much you work out), your idea muscle needs to be nourished in order to get stronger as well. In my experience, creativity feeds on the new. Meeting new people, learning new things, exploring new places, and trying new activities – the list goes on… Exposing yourself to new people, places, things, and ideas helps you to see the world in new ways. Seeing the world in a new way is the foundation of creativity, it’s both the source and the result of art and invention.
So, whenever you’re stuck creatively, what you probably need is something new. But new doesn’t always have to come from outside. New doesn’t have to be an accident or a coincidence. You don’t have to wait for new. Here are thirteen ideas for summoning new into your life, so that the new can spark your creativity and inspire your imagination.
Clean your work space
Change can be simple. If you’re like me, your work space gets messier and more cluttered over time, especially as you work on a big project. To inject some quick and easy change into your life, clean up, organize, re-start with a clean slate. While this may seem like a minor change, it can work wonders – especially when combined with a strategic break.
Re-arrange your work space
When simply cleaning up your existing creative work space isn’t enough (or its already clean), you can take the next step and re-arrange the space. Even a small space with only a few items can be re-arranged. Big spaces with lots of equipment can obviously be changed even more. Move your desk or easel to the other side of the room, or just face it a different direction. Re-think your supply storage and make it more fun. Hang some inspiring art in your space – and take down the stuff you’ve been staring at for who knows how long. Change can be as big or as small as you need, even in the most constrained of spaces (try painting the room for a quick and fairly major change in any space).
Move to a new work space
This one can take a bit more commitment, time, and effort but it doesn’t have to be extraordinary. In many situations you can swap two rooms in the same building, or two workstations in the same room. Maybe you can take over a room and move out of the living room or kitchen. You can also go bigger and move to a completely new space. Move out of your home to a professional studio or office. Move to a bigger commercial space, or a smaller one. Find something closer to your home or closer to a busy part of town. Find a better view, a better commute, a better building, a better neighborhood, etc.
This doesn’t have to be a permanent move though. In a more corporate setting, you can likely move to a conference room to work for a few hours in a new space. In almost any setting, you can leave – take your laptop down to a coffee shop, bar, or bookstore. Go outside and work from a park. Work from home for a day or two, or from a friends house. Take a trip and work from a new city, state, country, or continent for a while. Stand on your head. The possibilities are limitless.
Re-arrange your living space
Maybe your work space is exactly how and where you want it. Maybe you’ve already changed everything you can with it and you still need more. Maybe something else. In any case, where you live effects your work – even if you don’t work anywhere near where you sleep. So shake things up by re-arranging your living space. Put the couch on the opposite wall. Swap bedrooms with your roommate or your kids. Hang new art, or move your art around to new rooms and walls. Get a new rug. Throw your TV away. Whatever, just shake your life up a bit with some changes to how and where you live. Big or small, these changes will have an effect on your work as well.
Move to a new living space
Yep, living somewhere new is a pretty major change. Especially if you change neighborhoods, cities, or countries. Even just moving across the street is a new experience and will feed your creativity though. New roommate, new environment, new commute, new view, new neighbors, new local shops, the list goes on.
Create a (new) schedule
Change your routine. Switch up what you do each day, and when, and in what order. Go to a new shop for coffee. Stop somewhere on the way home. Start running in the morning. Ride your bike instead of driving. Start going to the market for fresh produce every day. Throw out your microwave and start cooking for every meal. Take longer lunch breaks. Start your day earlier or later. Work more hours. Work less hours. Walk your dog at night instead of the morning. Set a time each day to call an old friend…
Daily rituals are very powerful. Making yourself conscience of yours, and changing it up from time to time, is a great way to introduce both change and stability into your life as needed.
End a relationship
Let’s get drastic! Well, ending a relationship can be a major deal but like many of the other ideas on this list, it doesn’t always need to be. We all have many relationships. While breaking off an engagement is certainly life-changing, I wouldn’t recommend doing it just to break writers block on a blog post. If you are in a massive, soul-crushing creative rut you may want to take a look at these “major” relationships in your life and think about some big changes. If you just need to switch things up a little bit however, there are plenty of other relationships to look at. Maybe you need a new yoga instructor or a new personal trainer. A new therapist or a new pharmacist. Maybe you have a “Facebook friend” who’s constantly posting negative shit and needs to be deleted. Cleaning up who you follow on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and other social media sites can be very refreshing – and may help you see updates from folks you haven’t seen in a while.
Start a new relationship
Just like ending relationships, starting them can be done on any level you need. Start small and work up. Follow some people you admire on Twitter. Email someone you’ve always wanted to meet. Hang out at a local coffee shop or bar and strike up conversations about things that matter to you – see what happens. Go to new places and do new things (check out meetup.com) to meet new people, and then foster relationships with the ones that work.
Many wise people have stated that your success and the quality of your relationships are in direct proportion to each other. Build relationships with people you want to be like, people who have what you want, people who inspire you – serve them and learn from them. It’s always a good time to find a new friend.
Quit your job
Sometimes you just have to shake things up, way up – take the leap! Just make sure you prepare first, and think it through thoroughly.
Get a new job
Depending on what you do, this may require the above step, or it may not. If you’re mainly freelance, it may be easy to add a new job without having to end one. In either case, taking on a new paid gig can be a great change.
Start a new project
Here I am defining a project distinctly from a job such that a project is more on your own. Something you want to do. You may get paid for it eventually or you may not, but it’s your thing – not a request from someone else. Keep a list of projects you want to tackle and every now and then pull that list out and start one. It’s a great way to inject some change into your life, and to take your mind off other work for a while. Some folks have lots of little passion projects, some have one big one that goes on for years. I recommend always having at least two things going whether that’s a job and a side project, two projects, two jobs (that can get stressful though), or any other combination. It is super good for your creative muscle to be pushed in more than a single direction.
Fuck it. Just smash the shit out of something. Please don’t hurt anyone or get arrested though – smash safely.
This is one I need to focus on more. At any given time I typically have a dozen or two unfinished projects. Picking one up and actually finishing it is a great feeling, and a huge weight off my mind. Deciding that I’m never going to finish something and getting it off my table is freeing as well. What half (or more or less) finished projects do you have sitting on a shelf or in a closet somewhere? What have you been meaning to do? Go get it done! You’ll feel better and your mindspace (and maybe your physical space too) will be changed – which is a good thing!