You love putting new and exciting things out into the world. Whether it’s writing, painting, music, or crafts, you have a spark of creativity just itching to burst itself into flames.
Except lately, something has been holding you back. That spark has dimmed into a barely perceptible flicker of light threatening to extinguish itself at any moment.
Your passion for creating is still there somewhere, but it’s buried beneath layers of perfectionism, distraction, and the emotional drain which accompanies your busy life.
Unfortunately, you have passed into the “creative funk,” a place where ideas dry up and the music stops.
First of all, it’s essential to know that EVERYONE who has even one creative bone in their body goes through a creative funk sometimes. No one can be brilliant all the time!
But even knowing that getting into a slump is common doesn’t change the fact that you can feel cranky and frustrated when it does. After all, isn’t getting into the flow of your art one of the best feelings in the world!?
Although going through a slump is disheartening, there are steps you can take to find your inspiration once again. Let’s dive right in so you can start tackling that creative funk of yours!
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Even if you’re not a writer, taking time to write down the thoughts surrounding your block can be exceedingly helpful. You don’t even need a fancy journal. All you need is paper, a pen, and a willingness to sit with your thoughts for a few minutes.
Don’t think too hard about your responses. Put pen to paper and write whatever comes to mind. Now is also a great time to bench your inner critic.
Start by asking yourself what you feel right now. Are your feelings, as a whole, positive or negative? Take some time to explore what may be contributing to your current emotional state.
Maybe you’ve been putting in too many hours at work. Or you’ve taken on too many tasks at home. Perhaps you haven’t taken the time you need to indeed rest and recharge.
Then ask yourself what you would rather be feeling. Think about how it feels when you’re at your creative best, and everything simply flows. Are there specific outside factors that help you get to that place of flow? Maybe it’s that one channel on Pandora. Or the corner table at Starbucks, iced cinnamon dolce latte in hand.
Is there a specific time of day when you feel most creative? And how can you arrange your schedule to accommodate creating at that time?
Finally, what inspires you? Is it spending time in nature? Or maybe it’s a chat with your bestie. Perhaps some of your best ideas find you during a long run.
Now it’s time to close the gap between the creative funk and your genius. Go back and read over what you wrote. Take a hard look at those hazy thoughts which once aimlessly bounced around in your head. Start making connections now that those thoughts are staring back at you in black in white on the page.
If you still feel cemented in the mundane, check out my next tip for shaking a creative funk.
Find Inspiration Wherever You Can
Although I tend to take comfort in habits and routines, sometimes they are an absolute buzzkill for your creativity!
New experiences, different ways to do the same old thing, and shaking it up are vital to keeping life fresh. And when life is fresh, creativity flows.
Maybe it’s even time to try a completely new art form. If you’re a writer, have you ever considered learning to play an instrument?
Or if music is your thing, have you ever considered taking one of those evening painting classes? Perhaps a stained glass art class is something that excites you.
Figure out what inspires you right now. Is it time to pick up that partially finished quilting project you started several years ago? Or maybe you need a trip to the craft store to spark some inspiration.
Creativity can come in so many different forms, and sometimes it takes stepping out of your monotonous routine to get those juices flowing again!
For more on getting into the flow, check out this inspiring post!
Seek out Support
If your creative funk persists, perhaps it’s time to consider help. Fortunately, support comes in a multitude of forms.
Maybe it’s time to find a teacher. There have been so many times in the past when my piano playing starts to get stale. I find myself playing the same pieces over and over. And I continue stumbling over the same techniques time after time.
But reaching out to a teacher has given me the exact inspiration I needed to master the technical aspects. And most importantly, it’s reignited my passion for playing.
Help can also come in the form of emotional support from friends. If your friends also have creative inclinations, chances are excellent that they’ve also encountered a creative funk or two. Talking about what you’re going through with someone else can be incredibly cathartic and may be precisely what you need to get your groove back.
And speaking of talking it out, never underestimate the power of therapy. Therapy can be beneficial if you find that the roots of your block run deeper than simply feeling uninspired. Fear of failure, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and other serious issues stunt your creative growth and impact diverse areas of your life. But a therapist can help you work through those issues, freeing your creativity and helping you embrace a more fearless life.
Pay Attention to Your Cycle
I’m a sucker for productivity and feel my best when maximizing my “to-do” list. On the flip side, I feel frustrated and overwhelmed on those days when my level of energy does not match the number of things I need to check off.
And deep down, I’ve always known that having fluctuations in energy is an entirely normal human experience. But it wasn’t until I discovered this book that I realized how to work with my biology.
In her book entitled Do Less, author Kate Northrup unpacks the key difference in productivity between men and women. She asserts that if women embrace the concept of life as a cycle instead of linear, they are in a better position to embrace energy fluctuations. And by embracing instead of fighting energy fluctuations, productivity improves.
Northrup presents a fresh take on productivity. It’s a take that throws guilt out the window and encourages you to reframe your thinking around productivity. She affirms that the path to happiness and peace is paved with “no’s” instead of “yes’s.”
And once you’ve ditched all those obligations, guilty thoughts, and unrealistic expectations, you’d be amazed at how much room is left over for creativity!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Do Less, click the Amazon link below to revolutionize your life!
Change Up Your Environment
Although I’m not a student of the feng shui movement, I have become very aware that the environment plays a massive role in my creativity. If the space around me is messy and chaotic, my ability to create becomes stunted.
This post wouldn’t have been written if I hadn’t first taken the time to clear my space. Unfortunately, my “office” currently consists of a table in the living room. This table is often littered with toys, homework from the kids, and a litany of miscellaneous items without definite homes.
I attempted to write in this state of general chaos and disarray for several weeks but felt utterly unmotivated and uninspired. Until I took a few minutes to free myself from the clutter. At which time, the words once again began flowing as they do when I’m at my absolute best.
Sometimes overcoming a block means taking a hard look at your surroundings.
Do you ALWAYS work in the same spot at home? Try working on your patio instead. Or maybe, like me, you simply need to clean up your workspace.
Maybe you always sit in the same corner booth at Starbucks. Try checking out the Caribou down the street instead.
There are a million tiny ways to improve your surroundings to facilitate creativity. And if none of the above advice has reversed your creative funk, maybe it’s time to take a break!
Take a Break
Taking a break can be as simple as taking a nap or going for a walk. It could also mean getting out for a round of golf. Or maybe your inspiration will return after finishing that compelling novel you started last week.
Perhaps getting wrapped up in the newest blockbuster thriller will be enough to set you on the path to greatness again.
There are times when your brain needs to step away for a bit to process creativity subconsciously. And even if it seems as if your mind is fully absorbed in the activity, it’s still hashing out that blog post or navigating the technical challenges of the piece you’re perfecting.
The break could be 20 minutes, or maybe you even choose to step away for several days. You are not a machine and are therefore incapable of consistently churning out content without downtime. Embrace the breaks so you can more fully embrace your art!
Are you feeling emotionally drained? Check out this post for help.
Cut Yourself a Break
And speaking of breaks, don’t pressure yourself when you’re not feeling it! When your energy is lacking, cut down on your creative output instead of amping up the pressure on yourself. Try to get creative with your creativity. For example, can you re-purpose anything you’ve previously done if you simply don’t have the energy to create something new?
Or do you have a partially or almost fully completed project that you could put the finishing touches on so you can gain some momentum? Finishing a project can sometimes be enough to propel you away from that creative funk you’ve been battling.
Cutting yourself a break also means freeing yourself from your own judgment. Give yourself the freedom to create something terrible because you never know when it might turn into your greatest masterpiece. In many cases, we are the ones standing in our own way.
And speaking of productivity, if you’re even the tiniest bit of a perfectionist or a mom, it can be easy to get wrapped up in productivity. When your list is a mile long, it’s tempting to pack “productive” activities into every single minute.
For example, you may insist upon listening to podcasts during your commute. Or use the little spare time you have to read books about productivity, time management, and other highly “non-fun” topics.
But eliminating unfocused time from your day might be the very thing killing your creativity.
Your brain needs a lack of structure sometimes to weave together all that genius inside just waiting to be released. Consider this your invitation to waste time.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Go ahead. Watch a few episodes of your favorite telenovela. Laugh your way through the new Kevin Hart movie. Or simply enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood while listening to the playlist of your teenage years.
Just make sure to leave the guilt at home.
If you lack clarity, check out this post to find yourself again.
The 5-Minute Rule
If you’ve tried all of the above and are still hopelessly stuck, here’s the secret weapon for which you’ve been searching. This solution is guaranteed to banish the creative funk you’ve been wallowing in.
The first step is to figure out some type of reward. Maybe it’s an episode of your favorite show. Or perhaps it’s cheesecake from your favorite restaurant. Is it, perchance, a cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks?
Whatever it is, choose something that feels celebratory to you.
The second step is to tell yourself that you will get the reward if you work for at least 5 minutes. Then set the timer.
Once 5 minutes is up, you can either continue working or move on to the reward. That’s it!
No matter how small, any progress is progress and should be celebrated as such. Reward yourself!
This technique is effective because it gets you out of your head. It forces you to put pen to paper, fingers to keys, brush to canvas, or any number of other creative endeavors. The 5-minute rule compels you to take action instead of lulling you into a false sense of action created by thinking.
And here’s a little-known secret about creativity. In most cases, work comes BEFORE inspiration. And I know we spent a ton of time talking about inspiration today. But the reality of it is that you’ll never feel inspired until you start creating.
You have to get out there, make mistakes, and create some genuinely terrible stuff before you have enough experience to be great. That’s how creativity works. No one gets to be amazing fresh out of the gate.
So don’t sweat it! Stop pressuring yourself. Have fun! Look for ways to fall in love with the journey instead of the destination. And if your interests change over the years, embrace the change. Create in whatever medium feels right to you at the moment.
The most important thing to remember is never to give up! The world needs your unique contribution.
It’s Your Turn
I hope this post inspired you to find new ways to overcome the proverbial creative funk. Take this opportunity to examine your life and figure out whether something more profound contributes to the block. Then work to resolve the issue.
And if there is nothing more profound, consider switching it up! Get out there and have some fun! Talk to new people, try a new hobby, or find a way to waste some time.
Do something that lights you up instead and feels exciting. And you never know where this one tiny step will lead.
Don’t forget to drop a comment below with your comments on this post. How do you overcome a creative funk?
14 thoughts on “How to Get Out of a Creative Funk”
What a comprehensive piece. I myself prefer freewriting because it reminds me how it feels like to write without constraints or expectations, and I like that feeling. I also do it longhand because that helps too. Anyway, thanks for this post!
I completely agree about the freedom of writing whatever you want with no judgment or expectations. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
Free writing is good for so many reasons. Great advice! I suggest this a lot with my patients that suffer with depression and anxiety as well! For me, I need to take your advice more on giving myself a break. Great reminder!
Absolutely! Breaks are so important for creativity. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!
so true! I feel overwhelmed sometimes when it comes to writing after publishing a few then I tend to slack and pick up again. Thanks for this article, trying to be consistent and have breaks in between
It’s definitely tough to stay consistent sometimes when life catches up with you and everything else seems more important. I’ve learned to embrace the rest because it’s often when I gather my best ideas. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!
the 5 minute rule is interesting! maybe I could use that
It’s a great one! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!
I agree with what you said that changing up our environment can make a big difference. Great tips!
Thank you so much! And thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Honestly I have never thought about my cycle of engery and the ability to produce, but it’s very true! I definitely am too hard on myself about that.
It is a fascinating concept that makes so much sense. We need downtime to gather reserves in order to produce when the time comes. I’ve definitely noticed that my creativity has a cyclical pattern and although I can often push myself through the downtimes, the results are not as great as when I work with my energy. I encourage you to check out the book, Do Less by Kate Northrup for more in-depth information on how to incorporate these principles into your life. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
There are so many things I love about this post. First, I love the idea about free writing. I’ve tried that for several days now at the end of the day, and it has become some sort of a release for me.
Second, thank you for suggesting that book by Kate Northup. I’ve been reading a book recently that also calls us (especially ladies) to do the same, to pay attention to our cycles.
And third, yes, yes, yes, to taking a break! I used to be the kind of person who would work straight once I’m ‘in the zone’. But then I learned that you need to take breaks not just to rest but also for some input especially if all you’ve been doing is releasing output.
Love your post and thank you once again for all the suggestions!
Thank you so much for the encouraging feedback! I feel like there’s so much pressure today to push yourself beyond your limits and to produce on an almost constant basis. And prior to finding Kate Northrup’s book, I felt guilty about resting. I felt that resting meant laziness. But since reading it, I’ve been able to embrace rest for the gift that it is and its overall contribution to improved creativity. It’s completely changed my perspective and I highly recommend the book for anyone struggling to embrace less in their life. Again, I’m so happy to hear you found the post helpful! 🙂