If it’s never happened to you…believe me, it will. It happens to all creatives.
You get stuck. Whether you’re staring at a page too pristine or a colorless canvas, every once in a while you’ll draw a blank.
Don’t worry. It’s only temporary. But this is when you need a quick creative reset.
Here are some Habithacking options. (P.S. this is an updated version of Day 60 from the not-currently-available Create program.)
Fifteen 60 second creative reboots:
- Put on music to change your mood. Or change up the tunes you’ve been listening to.
- Pack up your stuff and move to a different place in your house or studio to finish your work.
- Work on an alternate part of your project. For instance, write chapter 20 instead of chapter 23, or knit the sleeve of the sweater instead of the body.
- Do this eye movement exercise: move your eyes from left to right, horizontally, repeatedly. I’m not joking. Scientific American.
- Change your tools: switch from ballpoint to fountain pen, from watercolor to colored pencil, from keyboard to guitar.
- Set your timer for 11 minutes and promise yourself you can stop when it goes off. And do stop, even if things have started to go well. It’s better to end feeling good about what you’ve accomplished.
- Change your clothes.
- Doodle mindlessly.
- Lie on the floor with your dog or parrot and look up at the ceiling. It’s a whole new point of view.
- Give up for the day. Tell yourself you do NOT have to produce and don’t force it. (That just might be the moment you suddenly get a great idea.)
- Put limits on your project. For instance, restrict your color choice. Or subject matter. Another scientifically proven method. More to come in a blog post.
- Do a quick and simple chore, then go back to your creative work.
- Practice a creative ritual that gets you in the mood: maybe stretching if you’re a dancer, reading your favorite poems if you’re a writer, perhaps doodling if you’re an artist. (An exercise from the Create program.)
- Add something new and meaningful to your creativity altar (from the Create program).
- Spend 60 seconds breathing deeply and thinking about each breath. (See meditation, below.)
Fifteen 60 minute creative resets:
- Take a walk. This is perhaps the best solution of all. Most gurus recommend it and some, like Julia Cameron, consider walking essential to creativity. Science has weighed in to show that walking does indeed increase creativity. An upcoming post will talk about this.
- Meditate. The science is in. You’ll be more creative if you do this. Blog post to come.
- Revisit some of your best work. Reassure yourself that what you had then…you still have now.
- Go moodle instead of working (what? take a look here). Perhaps you need to fill the well.
- Be inspired by others who have accomplished what you wish to do. Reread your favorite short story; look at a well-executed painting; listen to the kind of music you want to perform.
- Take a shower or soak in the tub. Yes, there’s magic to water. It’s all about the dopamine, friend.
- Force yourself to watch boring, mindless television for an hour. Wouldn’t you rather be creating?
- Do some hard labor: dig in the garden, mop the floor, wash the windows.
- Exercise now instead of later. Whether you’re on the treadmill or strolling the subdivision, carry pen and pencil in case your brain lights up.
- Brainstorm, make a mind map, create a collage.
- Start working on a different, non-creative project that you’ve been putting off. Allow yourself to switch back to creative work after an hour.
- Relocate to a coffee shop or somewhere similar. Research shows that ambient noise is helpful.
- Call a supportive friend and describe how you envision your project. Get feedback.
- Spend an hour assembling a list of inspirational quotes to refer to when you’re stuck.
- Casually page through magazines or newspapers or books, not looking for anything in particular, but with a notebook and pen at your side. You’ll be surprised by what happens.