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7 Practical Ways to Stimulate Creativity and Banish Your Creative Block

Banish creative block

 

If you're a creative, you know as well as I do that relying on stimulating your creativity to put money in the bank is intense. 

Some days ideas flow like water from a tap; you're in the zone, you're firing and confidence levels are sky-high.  

You think, ”Hell YES! I am good, I'm great and I'm worth every penny.” 

Other days... your head feels like it's filled with sponge and you sit staring at your screen willing those ideas to come… But they don't. 

Then your imposter syndrome pops its ugly head in ...

 

"Hellooooo. You're a fraud, this is going to be the last job you ever have because you have no ideas. The client will leave you a one-star review and uh ma gahd it's all over. It's over.  Just go and update your resume now."

 

Creative blocks can happen for many reasons - unidentified, mental, emotional and physical. No matter the cause, the truth is:

When you rely on your creativity to deliver what you promise and earn a living, a creative block is more than a minor inconvenience. 

  • It can throw you off track with project timing. 
  • It can lead to unmet expectations.
  • It can have reputational risk.

 

Beyond just taking a break, here are 7 ways I've learnt to stimulate creativity and overcome those pesky creative blocks that hit me from time to time in my copywriting business. 

 

Boost your brain

Like a perfectly balanced cocktail, your brain needs a few things to be blissfully creative - more serotonin, more dopamine, less cortisol.

 

Stress and not enough sleep can send your serotonin (your mood stabiliser) and dopamine (the chemical that influences your mood and feelings of motivation and reward) levels plummeting and invite cortisol (your stress hormone) to the party instead.  

 

Check out this table from Simply Psychology to see why serotonin and dopamine are so important:

 

3 simple ways you can increase serotonin and dopamine are:

 

1. Exercise

Pick something you enjoy that doesn't feel like a chore. While cardio feels like punishment to me, I love reformer Pilates, yoga, bosu workouts and walks with a view. If you're outside, you get bonus dopamine points because sunlight boosts production.

 

2. Listen to music

I have what I like to call a 'weird focus' playlist. No words, just melodic tones that are practically meditative. I’m also fond of anything nineties and noughties for a mood boost!

 

3. Get quality sleep 

A simple sleep hygiene routine can make a huge difference to sleep. Limit your screen time an hour before bed, turn the lights down and create consistency (pjs on, teeth brushed, consistent bedtime) to signal your brain, ‘hey it's time to switch off and sleep’. 

 

Create without pressure

Find something creative you enjoy - I repeat, enjoy, you don't have to be good at it - and go for it.

While you're doing your chosen activity, you're not fighting the clock, you're not forcing anything. You're in the present moment freeing up mental space to allow those creative juices to return while giving your big brain a well deserved moment of rest. 

I like to paint... am I good at it? Not really. Do I love it? Absolutely! I paint once a week.

I've noticed an increase in adult creative activities like pottery, paint and sip, drawing, sewing - get out of your comfort zone, you might find something you love.

  

“When creativity is under the gun, it usually ends up getting killed.”

Teresa Amabile, professor, Harvard Business School

 

Change locations 

They say change is as good as a holiday... I don't know about that but I know working from somewhere completely different helps me. 

I've written some of my best words from a park bench by the beach, sitting propped up on a European pillow in bed and in the car!

Physically moving to a different location can interrupt stagnant thoughts. Grab your laptop and move somewhere, anywhere, to give yourself a fresh view and fresh thoughts.

 

Get off social media

via GIPHY

GASP. 

Social is one of the first things to go for me. If I'm not feeling creative or I'm having trouble focusing, I take the apps off my phone. 

While I love social sometimes to keep up with people's news and get inspiration, I find it completely overwhelming and addictive when I have a lot going on in life and at work.

Think about it this way - if you're scrolling and scrolling trying to spark creativity by consuming other people's ideas, content and behaviours, your brain is full. You're thinking about the things they did that were good, what you'd do differently, whether you should save that post.  You have no space to create when you're in over-processing mode. 

If you're not ready to remove apps completely, try to reduce your time spent or have some boundaries around consciously checking socials rather than automatically picking up your phone and scrolling all the way through that feed just because. I promise you'll notice a difference and feel like you have so much more time back in your day and space in your brain.

 

The pen is mightier than the laptop

We're on our phones and laptops all the time now, it's second nature to us to be typing all. the. time.

Break the repetitive cycle and get in the zone with the trusty pen and paper. 

Not only are you removing online distractions, but writing also uses more areas of the brain than typing to jolt you out of your creative slump.

I like to set a 10-minute timer and write whatever pops into my head. Sometimes I use post-it notes and set a goal of one idea per post-it for the duration of the timer. 

Try it and let me know what you come up with! 

 

Immerse yourself in water 

There's a book called Blue Mind:

“Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do”

 

If you've ever had some fab ideas in the shower, or felt drawn to, or relaxed by, the ocean, or had a shower to help you feel less upset... there's a reason for that!

The author, Wallace J Nicholls, was featured on a TedX Talk. Like him, my brain is full of water memories from my childhood and the ones I create with my daughter and husband now. I'm grateful to live close to the beach - I swim all year round and walk by the ocean. It's calming, restorative and resetting for me. 

Immersing in water helps increase the blood flow to your brain as well as oxygen supply to your muscles, and gives your brain a break from coordinating all of the complex messages it sends to our muscles so we can sit, stand and type.

via GIPHY

 

Use a task management system

Just because you aren't in the headspace to kick creative goals doesn't mean you can't be productive.

On the days when you're stuck, get out of your head and look at the list. I find ticking off small things helps me feel as though I'm still using my time well.

There are loads of free online task management systems available, like Asana or Todoist, or there's the written list. 

Batch your tasks; for example, put all your admin items like invoicing, calendar planning, replying to emails in one section. 

 

In summary, my 7 tips to stimulate your creativity and get out of a slump are:

  • Boost your brain
  • Create without pressure
  • Change locations
  • Get off social media
  • The pen is mightier than the laptop
  • Immerse yourself in water
  • Use a task management system

 

The most proactive thing you can do? Protect your creativity.

 

I’ve learnt, my creativity doesn't turn on with the flick of a switch. I need to protect it! 

I do this by being mindful of how much I take on, scheduling a short break after I finish big projects and prioritising time to recharge my batteries.

I've noticed if I don't commit to these things, the creative block is inevitable and frequent.

Which of these tips will you try?

 


 

This blog post was written by freelance website copywriter Jodie Norman, of Jodie Norman Writes

Jodie writes minty fresh words for service-based brands, to turn their browsers into buyers. Specialising in conversion copywriting for websites, she uses the art and science of words, brand strategy and SEO to bring her clients and their target markets together - kind of like cupid.