It is common for artists to find themselves in a creative slump. Oftentimes, thinking too hard about a project is what causes us to find ourselves in that tough ditch. When it hits, it’s all too easy to lay around, watching reruns of Scrubs on Netflix and eating ice cream straight out of the container. Inspiration will surely hit at some point, right?
While this may work for some people, it’s important to exercise your creativity even if you feel as though you have none. By participating in simple creative exercises, you may find the inspiration you’ve been looking for all along. So get up off that couch, put away that container of ice cream, and break out your craft box.
Finish Incomplete Shapes
Let’s say you have a blank sheet of paper in front of you. Without thinking too hard about it, draw an abstract line. It could be half of a triangle, a part of a circle, or a little squiggle. From there, you need to create an entire drawing based off of that simple line you just drew. Half of a triangle could turn into the hat on a dancing clown, a part of a circle could turn into the sun setting over an ocean scene, and a little squiggle could turn into part of the hair of a fairy flying through the forest. The possibilities are truly endless, and there are no guidelines you need to follow except to incorporate that initial line. The trick is to not think too hard about it! Give yourself a strict amount of time – 5 or 10 minutes – and then just let your creativity flow.
While it may seem hard, this is extremely helpful for those with writer’s block. I can’t tell you how many times free writing has helped me relieve my brain of its creative slump. Get your favorite pen and your favorite notebook, and set a timer for 20 minutes. As soon as you start the timer, begin writing. What you write doesn’t need to make any sense, and there doesn’t need to be any specific flow to it. Its truly a stream of consciousness piece; one that helps clear your mind and free it up for more creative writing later. And who knows? You may like what you write so much that it will become part of your initial project.
Partner Drawing / Painting
Invite someone else along for a creative boost! Watching someone else’s techniques and creative flow can help spark ideas. Get out your favorite medium – whether it be watercolor, charcoal, oil paint or a simple pen (even a combination of all of them!) – and then take turns doodling on the same canvas. In the end you’ll have a truly unique piece of art, and throughout the process you’ll be exercising your creativity.
Unique Uses for Everyday Objects
Pick up a simple object closest to you. Maybe it’s a pen, or a paperclip, or a rubber band, and then make a list of five unique ways you can utilize that object. If you’ve picked up a paperclip, maybe you can use that as a hair clip, or an earring, or sculp it into an animal, or use it as a fingernail cleaner, or make mini kebabs? Some of those may be stretching it, but you get the idea. Trying to find unique uses for everyday objects exercises parts of your brain that you don’t use very often.
Redesign a Label
Are you tired of looking at the same old ketchup label? Do you think you could make it better? Open your refrigerator and pick something that you think needs a little sprucing up, and then sketch out your own label design for it. If that’s not enough, you could even create your own company and food item! Coming up with a unique name and design for your product is a fun way to get your creative juices flowing.
Revert to Your Childhood
PlayDoh and Legos are two great examples of childhood toys that get left behind as an adult. There are so many ways to exercise your creativity through these two things! Embrace your inner child that has been forgotten for so long and go at it. You’ll be surprised how many great things you can create. You could even use both in the same project! Create a city out of Legos, and then design the creatures or people who live there out of PlayDoh. There are even certain types of clay that you can bake in the oven, if you want to make your creations permanent.
Pick a certain subject, whether it be a type of mythical creature, a unique building, or a human. Begin imagining the subject in your mind, and think about every single little detail of that particular thing. If you’re with someone else, describe it to them in great detail out loud. If you’re alone, write all of the details down. Try to use more unique adjectives, instead of just “blue” or “shiny”. The more details you come up with, the harder your brain is working! You can be as simple or as wild as you desire.
Take a Walk
Sometimes forcing yourself to be creative when you aren’t feeling creative can be counterproductive. This doesn’t mean you should take that container of ice cream back out of the freezer, but you should get up and get some fresh air. Take a walk around your yard or your neighborhood, and find unique shapes or letters in nature. You’re not forcing yourself to create anything, but you’re letting yourself open your eyes and see art in everything around you.
Simple creativity exercises like the ones above can help get you out of your creative rut and back into the game. When you remove yourself from the project you’re stressing over, you’d be surprised how much creativity can still flow through your mind. If you’re looking for even more ways to boost your creativity, Udemy’s creativity booster course has tons of exercises to help you get those creative juices flowing once again!