People who write for a living, and really artists in general (regardless of their medium), often reach points where their well has run dry. We’ve all been there. Staring at the blank page before you. Open up the dirty window. Let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find…looks like I’ve veered into Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield! But Natasha has a point. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head (i.e. feel the rain on your skin) to get your creative motors cranking. There are innumerable ways to unfunk yourself but I hope these five help you to get started.
#1: Clean Out the Clutter
The time-honored image of the messy artist is as old as art itself. And I’d be lying if I said that most of the people I’ve come across who create for a living don’t struggle with keeping their living spaces in working order. After all, who cares about dirty dishes or piles of laundry when you have the next Great American Novel to write?
The sad truth however is that it’s hard to hone in on something like a tricky plot point when your living space looks like something off of Hoarders. So start by tidying up the area you spend the most time in. Pick up and throw away trash, take your dirty dishes to the kitchen, make your bed, and make liberal use of a can of Febreze.
Once your living space looks neater, there’ll be more space in your head for what matters most.
#2: Take a Nap
It’s hard to do anything if you’re not well-rested, and sometimes the thing you need most is a good long nap. That poem, story, or blog post can wait until later. Turn off your phone, shut the blinds, and clear your mind. When you wake up, you’ll be ready to get to it. If you’re lucky, your dreams may give you ideas for your next project!
#3: Read, Read, Read!!!!
If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.Stephen King
Stephen King said it best. Although this advice applies primarily to writers, its applicability transfers to any creative endeavor. People who want to make great films need to be watching great films. You can’t become the next Scorsese or Gerwig by watching the same shitty Mark Wahlberg movies over and over again ad nauseam. You can’t become the next Picasso or Rembrandt if you don’t study the Masters. Art begets art.
#4: Give Yourself Permission to Suck
God, this is a hard one, especially for perfectionists like yours truly. But anything worth doing well is worth doing badly at least 6,543,789 times in order to perfect your craft. If you’re afraid of failing and never allow yourself to clear your cache by putting vomit on paper, you’re never going to write anything worth reading. Now, I’m not saying to go out in the world and share your shitty Grey’s Anatomy fan-fiction, but I’m not not saying to either.
#5: Find Your People and Share the Burden
Everyone needs a sounding board. There are innumerable collectives for creatives to join and if you can’t find a group you like then make your own. Having another person or a group of people to share your work with and give you insightful critiques is invaluable. An added benefit is that by participating in just such a group, you also expand your network and become a node on the networks of everyone who’s in your group as well. You never know which contact will help you get agented or sell your first book or agree to exhibition your work. So connect, connect, and then connect some more.
I hope these five tips will give you a good starting point toward sparking creativity in your own life. The creative life is extremely rewarding for anyone who is willing to give it their all and I wish you nothing but success and happiness on your journey as not only an artist but a human being as well. Take care, my friends.
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