We’ve all been there: we come up with an idea that we think is going to rock the world, we put our heart and soul into it, only to discover that, two weeks later, our passion for the project has completely depleted.
Creative tank empty.
For me, it seems like every other week I go through this song and dance of being on a creative high to being on a creative low, and to be honest, it’s exhausting. So today I’m writing this post not only for those of you who feel like they might need to boost creativity in their lives, but also for me, who’s been in a creative slump more times than I can count.
In fact, as I wrote this article, I realized almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an article on the same topic! (clearly there’s something about summer that brings me down into a creative slump). So, if you’re looking for even more ways on how to boost creativity, check out this article.
For now, though, here are five new things I’ve tried this summer that have helped me boost creativity:
1) Dip Deep and Recognize Your Ultimate Goal
We all have it: that one thing that we know we’re meant to do in life. Maybe it’s design clothes? Or open a shop? Or be a business coach? Or launch an influential blog that inspires people? Or, perhaps, like me, you dream of writing a novel? Whatever it is, we all have it, and likely, like most people, when we really want something, we ignore it.
Because we’re scared of it. Terrified of it, in fact.
We’re scared of failing at it, or wasting time on it, or being made fun of because of it. But here’s the thing: that “it” is the thing that’s going to bring you the most joy in life, which is why it’s so important to recognize it.
Seems easy enough, right? Just get clear on what you want in life, and voila, you’ve received a boost in creativity
I wish it was that easy.
We hear a lot about defining your “why’ when it comes to how to boost creativity. I myself recommended this piece of advice in my last blog post on this topic, but I think to really get over a creative slump, you have to dig deeper.
Here’s what I mean:
I know for me, knowing that I’ve wanted to write a novel has never been a mystery. It’s something that I’ve known about myself since I learned to read.
What’s been the big problem is being distracted by what Steven Pressfeild calls, “the shadow career.” (which I learned about in this article from Jeff Goins)
A shadow career is basically a career that’s very similar to what you’re striving to achieve, but it’s not exactly it. It’s the thing that can make you feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to do in life, but you’re not fully embracing your ultimate goal.
For me, I started my shadow career by becoming a freelance writer. And by no means am I saying that my “shadow career” is a bad thing, or that I should give up freelance writing to write a novel.
What I am saying is that you can’t let the shadow career take hold. It would be easy enough for me to embrace being a freelance writer entirely, and never write anything of my own, but I know that’s not what my ultimate goal is, and if I were to do that, I would always feel like I was missing out on something bigger.
Even with this blog, if I was ever able to make it into a full-time career, I know I wouldn’t be completely satisfied with it, because that’s not my ultimate goal.
So here’s what I’ve started doing with these “shadow careers” of mine. I’ve started looking at them in relation to my “ultimate goal”, and seeing how they can get me closer to that dream.
With my freelance writing, this is a little difference because it’s how I make my living, so I don’t have as much control over what projects I take on.
But, with my blog, I stopped focusing on things like influence, making money, or followers. And instead, I’ve started thinking about my blog as a way to get my writing out into the world. I’ve realized that a blog can be a tool to help with my ultimate goal of writing a novel, which all of a sudden made a blog no longer seem so daunting and awful. Now it seems like this amazing vehicle of creativity that I’m so on board with, which largely happened because I dug deep and reminded myself of my ultimate goal and how this blog works to serve that.
Boom! Creativity towards my blog ignited.
So, think about your ultimate goal, or the one thing you want to accomplish more than anything in life. Then, look at all the tasks you’re doing. If they’re not helping to move you forward in that goal, stop doing them. You’ll likely always get creatively burnt out on those unnecessary tasks because they don’t serve your ultimate goal.
Even with your career, realize that the money you make isn’t the thing that’s going to give you the most joy in life. Seeing your creative dreams come true is. Take on the work that you need to do in order to live a comfortable life, but don’t work yourself to death just for the sake of having more money.
Remember: we only have a small amount of time on earth. Do the things that make you most happy.
RELATED: Why Your Dreams Aren’t Coming True
2) Listen To People Who Actually Inspire You // Stop Listening To Other People’s Bullshit
If I could tell you how many podcasts and books I’ve read from people who I just didn’t believe in, it would be embarrassing.
For example, the hugely popular book “You Are a Badass” just wasn’t for me. It made me roll my eyes, and I felt silly even trying to believe in some of the ideas that were discussed throughout that book.
And you know what? That’s okay! You don’t have to read or listen to every “influencer” or “influential” piece of content that’s out there. And you certainly don’t have to believe in it all.
For me, if I get too wrapped up in the more spiritual side of motivational talks/books, I’ll find myself becoming annoyed with all the ideas, which is because those messages are not for me.
Find books, podcasts, and blogs on creativity that make sense for you, and speak to you. They’re out here. All you have to do is find them, and once you do, you’ll feel much better about the creative process.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a book that has a no-nonsense kind of approach to creative work, read Steven Pressfeild’s “The War of Art.” I’ve read it three times, and every time I do, I rediscover a new burst of creativity. (this is not an affiliate link. It’s just a book that I think everyone should read)
3) Don’t Seek Permission // Listen To Your Intuition
In a similar vein, if you’re really struggling creatively, stop listening to advice altogether, and start listening to your intuition.
In particular, stop seeking permission from other people to go ahead with your ideas. It’s super easy to fall into the trap of looking for that permission because it makes us feel more confident that we’re not wasting time on a project.
But here’s the thing: most of the time, the only way you’ll ever actually get your creative juices flowing is to just start trying things.
No, this doesn’t mean going out and dropping a pile of money on a new business.
But it does mean you should try experimenting with ideas without feeling the need to ask someone’s permission first.
Think of it this way: if you’re trying to do something creative, there’s no such thing as wasting time. You’re building something. You have to try things in order to figure out what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t. That’s the creative process. To assume you can try one thing, and it’s just going to result in this amazing creation on the first try is kind of crazy, right?
So stop talking about it. Stop seeking permission. And instead, just create things because you can.
4) Change Things Up
This might seem pretty obvious, but when you’re in a creative slump, it probably means you’re bored. That thing that once lit you up has now become stale and not worthy of your time.
And there are a couple reasons for why this might happen.
It might mean you were never actually passionate about it in the first place, and were doing it for the wrong reasons. It might mean you did too much of it, too fast. Or, it might mean that you’re being too results oriented about it.
For me, this blog has been a combination of all three.
I started to make it about money, tried to do way too much while also trying to manage a career, and I wanted all this immediate gratification. And ultimately, because I was only focusing on the result, and I wasn’t getting the result I was so desperately seeking, I gave up.
So, today, you know what I did? I changed up the colors on my blog. Just because I could. And honestly, just that small little act gave me a burst of creativity.
Let’s look at another example.
Say you’re trying to launch a store and you’ve been focusing strongly on Instagram marketing, but you’ve recently found you’re bored with it. Well, instead of giving up on it, why not try posting a different kind of photo? Or write a caption that might be outside your comfort zone? With Instagram, anytime I’ve ever gone outside the norm, or got super real with a caption, that’s when I’ve had the best results.
RELATED: Instagram Growth Hacks
The main thing you have to do is change something. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and it’s making you miserable, I guarantee it’s going to keep making you miserable.
Switch it up, but don’t give up. You likely just need a little change.
5) Just Do The Work
And last, but certainly not least, if you’re struggling creatively, it’s time for a bit of a wake up call.
It’s easy enough to blame outside circumstances on why you’re struggling creatively. Maybe you have a lot going on personally, or you’re not sleeping well, or you just don’t have the support to pursue your creativity.
But let me tell you, if you’re not feeling creative, that creative drain boils down to something internal. There’s something in you that’s stopping you from being creative. And, if that’s the case, you can listen to all the podcasts, switch things up, and get really clear about your ultimate goals, but really, the only thing that’s guaranteed to make you feel creative is to be creative.
In other words, you need to stop searching for the creative spark, and instead start doing creative things, in whatever form they take.
And, trust me, it doesn’t have to be some big creative pursuit. Hell, you don’t even have to show anyone what you’re working on, but the main thing you have to do is just start creating.
Suddenly you’ll find that the more you’re doing it, and the less you’re thinking about it, the easier it becomes to tap into that creative energy so you can get out of the slump.
Let me know in the comments below how you deal with a lack of creative energy.
This is still something I struggle with, so if you have some mind blowing creativity hack that will save me from a creative slump in the future, I would love to hear it!
Oh, and if you found this article helpful, please feel free to share.