21 Ways to Bust a Creativity Slump

Creativity takes practice. It’s a habit, after all. Big life upsets like a move, a hospital stay or a crisis can cause you to hit the pause button on creative pursuits. Boom. You’re in a creative slump.

Resuming can be a challenge because the longer you’re away, the louder the restart resistance. Excuses may come readily to mind. You may back out of commitments. Feelings such as overwhelm threaten your resilience.

How do you get over such obstacles?

A dear friend and I brainstormed ideas to get unstuck. Resuming your creative activity could be this easy: Prioritize. Pick. Choose. Decide. Honor your choice.

Buddy up. Invite a friend to play. When the voice in your head resists, you will know you’re on the right track. Your buddy can help reinforce your choice to try a creative activity.

Seek out nature. Much is written about the power of nature. Spend a few minutes outdoors (sans earbuds and little screen) and notice the sunshine, the breeze, the stars, the trees, flowers, birdsong. 

Take a walk. Physical exercise energizes. A change of scenery changes perspective.

Get curious. Spend a few minutes investigating a subject of interest. If you like treasure hunts, for instance, you might read about ancient coins. Or, check out geocache groups in your area.

Make a gratitude list. If this is something you frequently do, make it more challenging with a prompt such as 50 items in five minutes or 30 things I like about myself. You get the idea. I invite you to check out the Five Minute Journal, promoted as the simplest, most effective way to happiness in just five minutes a day. The Five Minute Journal App is my daily companion.

Study a new subject. Give yourself a 10-day challenge and begin immediately. Check Skillshare or any one of dozens of online offerings for amazing lists and opportunities.

Meditate. Much is written about the value of mindfulness and meditation. Carve out the time and then eliminate your “monkey mind.”

Take a digital time out. No notifications. No ringtones or alerts. Nothing. Better yet, leave your phone in another room.

Begin or renew a meditative activity such as knitting, needlepoint, or something else that favors repetitive motion and doesn’t require huge concentration. Relaxing in this way may give you a head start on your next creative project. My bead mosaic box collection started me on one such journey.

Write. Ask a friend to send you a prompt and then immerse yourself in the answer. You can access online forums or google Facebook Writing Groups for additional support.

Collage. Like paper dolls, there are few rules in collage. Making sense of cutouts can be fun. It pulls your mind from the digital highway and lets you lose yourself in paper, glue and the subject of your choice. 

Doodle. There are hundreds of different gel pens in a variety of colors. The act of doodling will prompt other connections and who knows where that may lead. Zen doodle anyone?

Color. Use crayons or pencil colors. One coach I know encourages his followers to shade an entire page without lifting the crayon from the paper. Firmly. Lightly. How many variations can you define in one sitting?

Connect with others. Make the effort to speak to a stranger – in the line at the grocery store, as you wait to be seated at a restaurant, before a meeting after a meeting, in whatever situation you find yourself. Instead of seeking out the familiar, pick the unknown.

Choose an intergenerational encounter or an inter-cultural one. Talk with someone much older or much younger or someone from a different ethnic background than you. Tell them you’re looking to ump start your creativity and ask for their ideas. Ask what sparks their creativity?

Drive a new route to work, to the gym, to pick up the kids. Notice everything. You will find yourself noticing things you’ve passed a gazillion times but suddenly make you wonder about their history.

Start something. If you regularly crochet, begin a straight, simple scarf. Commit to 15 minutes. Just 15. Set a timer and see how you feel when it goes off.

Call a friend you may not have spoken with in some time. Ask how they are doing and really listen to their answer.

Work in a series. I bead, sometimes making multiple strands in various combinations. Another friend makes needlepoint Christmas ornaments. Yet a different woman cross stitches bookmarks. A metalsmith guru recommends making chain: cut the links, shape them. Solder each one. Repeat.

Plan a celebration for yourself. Celebrate the end of your obstacle. See yourself fired up, excited and the center of good attention as you begin a new cycle.

Choose to End a Creativity Slump

These are merely 21 different variations. Prioritize. Pick. Choose. (Or, make your own list.) Decide. Honor your choice. What can you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In every moment we have a choice. Many of these choices involve creating with your hands. As someone once said, “It’s good for our soul to create with our hands.”