Updated: Apr 8, 2019
In the last post, we talked about the things we do that can gunk up our productivity.
Now that we've covered the stuff to avoid, we can tackle some of the fun things you can do to keep the creative taps turned on.
1. Go in completely different direction.
Have you ever been stuck in the mud? I mean, literally, gotten your car stuck in the mud? The more you put your foot on the gas pedal, trying to move forward, the stucker you get.
The same thing happens in our creative lives. We keep putting all our efforts into making a project move forward, and we seem to just get deeper and deeper into a rut.
We get out of this problem, the same way we get out of the mud: put that car in reverse.
Try moving in a completely opposite direction. This could mean completely re-thinking a project that has you stuck.
It could also mean shifting gears and trying a different medium. Are you a painter? Try collage or printmaking.
It could also mean trying a completely different art form. Are you a painter? Try making music. Try dancing. Or writing poetry. Or baking pies...
If we move our creative flow into channels that aren't blocked, it can help to return to our projects with new inspiration.
2. Do Something fun. Just for fun.
When our creative juices seem to have been sucked dry, making art can stop giving us pleasure.
And when we stop enjoying our creative process,, our work often suffers. We lose that special spark.
For me, when I start to feel this way, I know that I've been taking my art -and myself- too seriously.
*cue the sad trombone*
But never fear!
A surefire way to get your magic back is to inject some fizzy, sparkly, ridiculous FUN into your creative life.
Do something incredibly not-serious. Trite. Cliche. Juvenile. All are good. Think back to the artsy things you thought were super-cool back in middle school. Make some fan art. Finger paint.
Having fun and doing things simply for pleasure can magically re-energize us.
3. Break all the rules. All of them.
This is a big one. A BIG IMPORTANT one.
We're all embarrassed when we make something not-great. We tear up drawings. We paint over canvases. We erase and erase and erase. Because the worst thing we can do -heaven forbid- is to make something UGLY.
And often, we are so averse to messing up and making something ugly, that we never make anything at all.
And that sucks.
So what do we do? We tackle that monster head-on. Throw out all the rules you worked so hard to master and make something hideous, on purpose.
What do you hate most? What makes you cringe?
Use your least favorite colors. Glue macaroni to it.
You may end up with a wonky portrait of a sad clown in a chartreuse jumpsuit, and that's awesome!
When we allow ourselves to break the rules, to make bad art, we can conquer the fears that keep us from getting started and making good art.
4. Do it. And keep doing it. Every day.
I'm sure we all remember Issac Newton's Laws of Motion, from 6th grade science class. No? Well, as a refresher:
"An object in motion stays in motion." ... and some other stuff...
The same principle applies to us: Artists in motion, stay in motion- and it's hell of a lot easier to stay "in motion" than to get moving again once we've stopped.
So how do we do it? We make every day. Every. Day. EVERY DAY.
We don't have to make a lot everyday. We don't even have to make something good every day (see tip number 3). But we need to practice our creative habit every day.
"But, Penny! I'm a super-busy person!"
Yes, we all are. But we manage to eat something every day. We brush our teeth every day. And we can exercise our creative muscles every day, too. It makes it so much easier when we go to make something big when we're making little things along the way. Maybe more importantly, it makes it easier for us to have ideas when we need them.
For me, this has meant drawing every day.
I draw every single day.
When I was busy with work, when I was flying across the country, when I was at a friend's wedding, when I was sick in bed...
And it's not a lot. In fact, it's comically little. I draw something in a 2x2-inch square every day. And most of the time they suck. And nobody cares. And that's great.
It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be something.
What about you? Do you have any tips for keeping the inspiration lights on? Do you have a creative daily practice?