How to Stay Creative When You’ve Run Out of Ideas

    So, how DO you stay creative when you’ve run out of ideas??

    As artists we all go through dry patches, how frustrating… and I’m certainly not writing this article because I’m going through one myself, hehe, no siree. (Laughs nervously while staring at a clump of hair in my hand.)

    This article is simply about giving you tips on keeping your brain active when it’s decided it now hates creativity. They’re all different bits of advice so you don’t need to apply all of them but my hope is for even one of them to be helpful.

    1. Go for a walk.

    Walking always clears my head. It may not work for you but taking in your surroundings and some fresh air is better than stagnating on a couch.

    2. Watch a movie.

    My mother always told me ‘You don’t learn anything from watching television!’ She was wrong and I became a filmmaker. Movies take you into another world, so let yourself escape for a couple of hours and be inspired.

    Do you have a watchlist? Don’t think of it as wasting time, but more like you’re doing your own personal research.

    3. Meditate.

    Essentially it’s taking time out to breathe. Some people close their eyes and let their mind wander. Meditating, focusing on being present and simply breathing actually helps provide more oxygen to the brain.

    It’s possible your brain is tired and can’t generate ideas. Maybe all you need is oxygen.

    4. Be disciplined and have some sort of structured routine.

    Sometimes we need to have a break from our daily activities but it’s still important to have some sort of structure in order to stay disciplined. You can be inspired, but you still need limits.

    You can include the breaks in your own calendar (the next point) as well as having all types of ‘extracurricular’ activities. Make sure your structure has at least one item you regularly include in your daily routine in order to stay disciplined.

    5. Have one day a week where you don’t do anything.

    No matter how busy you are, you NEED to stop and rest, if possible at all. Creativity doesn’t really come from an empty brain so you gotta reset and recharge your brain batteries.

    I found if I take any longer than a day then I may start getting used to doing nothing. So one day is enough for me during extremely busy seasons, but everyone is different. It’s best to figure out how long your ideal rest time is and aim to achieve that.

    6. Take up another form of art in the meantime.

    Who knows, maybe all you need to be inspired is to be creative in a completely different way. If you’re having trouble, just throw some paint on a canvas or do something crazy like draw on your roommate’s face while they’re asleep and hide their keys or build a blanket fort.

    7. Always have a way to write down ideas straight away when they do come to you.

    Use post-its or have the notes app on your phone readily available.

    Many people do most of their thinking time in the shower or when they’re driving a car so it may not always be possible. Sometimes a great way to keep an important thought when you have no ability to make a physical note of it is to say it out loud once or twice.

    If you’re by yourself then saying a random thought out loud is not embarrassing. If you’re with someone else then just tell them your thought or ask them to write it down.

    8. Practice observation.

    If you normally like to lock yourself in a room or go somewhere to be alone, try NOT being alone, be out in a busy area and observe. People are so interesting. Go to a dog park and watch them interact with their owners (without being creepy). Get some coffee and ‘people-watch’

    9. Allow yourself to see things from a different perspective. 

    You may be stuck in viewing the world from one perspective – your own. Talk to friends and ask for their perspective on some trivial topics/politics/pop culture.

    Everyone has a valid opinion. You never know what you may be missing out on when you’ve decided whatever you think/value/believe is what you’re sticking to.

    We can get stuck in our own ways, paths or methods so looking at a problem from a different angle might be just what we need to move forward.

    It’s important to stay strong in your values and opinions but keeping an open mind is necessary, not just when you’re going through a creative block but throughout life in general. Never stop learning from others.

    10. Watch the youtube playlist titled ‘Creative Spark’.

    “Creativity pushes the boundaries. It makes you think and it’s unique. Being creative can be like a sense of style. There’s really no rules for that.” – Marci Liroff, Hollywood Casting Director

    Running out of ideas is ok. However, it doesn’t mean you’ve used up your creative juices, maybe you just need to stop and do something different to refresh.

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    • Jay Evans


      Jay Evans has spent the last 8 years working as a film editor, 4 of which have been with The Initiative Production Company. In his spare time he enjoys music, comedy, experimental cooking and getting lost in the woods.

    • Show Comments

    • Jasmine

      Great article Jay. Some good options there to take on board for every day life.

    Comments are closed.


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