Breaking out of the Block
Five Tips to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
By Stella Kim
Creative problem solving is a regular feat often required to navigate today’s complex economy. Especially for those working in creative fields such as marketing, architecture, and the arts, having a steady flow of ideas may make or break your next project. Dealing with the symptoms of writer’s block may be the last thing you need when worrying about meeting your deadlines. Here are some ideas to help break you out of the creative slump and restart your idea engines.
- Observe and Record. Whatever it is you decide to do for a little break—go on a walk, watch a movie or play, grab a coffee with a friend—it’s all about extending your zone of awareness. Examine your surroundings: what does the building or room look like and what do you like or dislike about the way it is set up? Listen to conversations around you: what are some current issues or age-old problems that people discuss? Be open to things that could grab your attention and spark your interest unexpectedly. Write everything down so you don’t forget!
- Variety is the Spice of Life. Inundate yourself with a wide array of ideas, books, music, and art. Just by exposing yourself to works different from your usual tastes and forcing yourself to process them, you are picking up on variances in each unique context or problem that another artist has grappled with. It could also open you up to new ways of thinking about your project or problem at hand.
- Sleep and Dream. Getting enough sleep not only keeps your brain at its peak capacity but helps produce more dreams at night. Nothing could be a more natural and free-flowing work of creativity than a dream. Additionally, dreams are one method your subconscious uses to work through your waking problems. Try setting your alarm to wake up a little earlier or later than usual for a better chance at recalling your dreams the next morning. Keep a journal of your dreams and interpret how they address your everyday frustrations.
- Find a New Hobby. Try knitting a scarf or cooking a three-course meal. Learn to juggle or be a conversation partner for a person learning English. You can even do some de-cluttering or serious house cleaning. Find an activity that absorbs your attention completely and gives you a sense of achievement once you see it through to completion. The process will test your grit and increase your perspective as well as your confidence in your ability to solve problems and accomplish tasks.
Get a Cat (or Dog). It may seem like silly advice, but many people have loved pets for a myriad of good reasons. As brainpickings.org says, observing a cat in its calm repose can—oddly enough—help you calm down as well. If your attention is scattered, a solitary, stable, and mature pet might help you settle your nerves and refocus. The idea is to have some kind of stabilizing ritual or influence that makes you sit back down and get to work. Additionally, the National Research Center for Women and Families reports that having a companion animal lowers anxiety, stress, and the risk of heart disease.