I want to share some of my own personal tips for reclaiming creativity. One challenge that artistic people struggle with, is to feel as if sometimes they've hit a creative block. Or maybe you used to work on creative projects, but as it sometimes happens life gets in the way and then you realize you haven't created anything in quite a while. Regardless of whether it is a temporary block or if you haven't done anything artistic in ten years, there are ways to kickstart and fan the flames of that artistic itch. Here are some of my favorites...
- Connect with your medium - whether you love photography, painting, drawing, etc, if you haven't worked with these tools in a while it might feel foreign to even consider working with them again. Allow yourself to just pull these tools back out. You can even leave them sitting out on the kitchen table, or in a spot where you will see them. Having them around will have you thinking about them again and build up the desire to use them. I always carry a camera with me, or I have my supplies out in case I want to create.
- Set aside play time - Give yourself a few minutes a day, every other day, or even just once a week (whatever feels comfortable in the beginning) to just mess around with your materials. Don't worry about creating a finished piece. Just do something fun and do it with the intention of whatever you're creating going unfinished. This removes the pressure and just gets you working on creating again. For example, if you like to work with paint, then use the paint to make yourself a color wheel. If you like to draw, just start drawing basic shapes and have fun shading them with different techniques. If you like photography, give yourself a few minutes to take a few photos of whatever you like. If you want to keep it simple, you can even put it on an automatic setting and just have fun with composition.
- Look at magazines - One of my favorite things to do is to read about art. I love to read magazines that highlight techniques, artists, and news in a variety of mediums. Again, picking up an issue of Art News, Popular Photography, Print, Communication Arts, or even paper/craft magazines can help boost your desire to create. You will gain useful tips, techniques, and motivation as well. I personally enjoy reading most of the magazines I mentioned above, including Outdoor Photographer, Blue Canvas, and HOW.
- Listen to music - The thing about being artistic, is that everything in life has potential to inspire you. It may not even be directly related to what you work on. Music plays a huge role in how I feel and what kind of energy I have for creating something or starting a new piece. Sometimes listening to an album by your favorite band or buying a new album is enough to spark your creative vision. Even though many of us have ipods, satellite radios, or even regular FM radio, I still really enjoy going and picking up a new CD to listen to and flipping through the booklet.
- Mini adventure - It can be difficult to plan time for yourself to do something fun, but it is important to feed your senses with new experiences in order to facilitate your desire to create. A mini adventure can be as simple as finding something you would like to do locally and spending an hour or two exploring that activity. Visiting a local farm, a new coffee shop, or a local market will create a new experience leaving you with inspired energy. For me, a trip down to the local lake or a nearby orchard always leaves me feeling refreshed.
- Sign up for a class/workshop - Some people believe that artists are only introverts but this isn't necessarily true. Artists benefit from being in supportive creative environments with like-minded people. They feed off each other's creative energy. A class can provide support and important feedback on our work. Even if you do not need the instructional portion of the class---just being in the presence of other creative people can be hugely beneficial. Two years ago I signed up for a painting class even though I have been painting my entire life. I did this because I wanted the benefit of time set aside just for painting and to be in the company of other artists, even if it was only once a week. I also attended a photography workshop where I made fantastic new friendships, you never know what is waiting right around the corner.
- Ask a friend - If you know someone who has similar interests, consider asking them how they began creating. Listening to someone else talk about their starting point can make the path ahead of you seem less intimidating. Identifying your own experience with theirs creates a feeling of confidence. Everyone has to start somewhere and having a mentor makes it that much easier.
- Treat yourself to a new book - There is a wealth of information out there and it is available at your local library/bookstore. Finding a book that explains the kinds of projects you'd like to explore can help make the transition back to creating very easy. I have a bookshelf filled with art books that are a valuble resource.
- Local art shows - Visiting local art fairs, art shows, or exhibits at a nearby museum is very inspiring. There is something about watching others create work and then having the courage to put the work out for others to see, that makes it feel less intimidating to work on our own projects. You never have to display your work if you don't want to, but knowing that others do gives us the courage to indulge our creativity even if it is just for ourselves. Better yet, sign up for a local show, and let the submission date help propel you to create something for the event.
- Film/Travel - I am putting these in the same category, not because they are similar, but because if you cannot afford to travel then watching a film can also offer a mental vacation. Traveling invigorates your mood, your creativity, and offers a whole new set of sensory experiences. With the current economic times, a film can offer a much more economic escape. Seeing new films is one of my favorite ways to reclaim creativity.
There are a variety of ways beyond what I mentioned above to reclaim your creativity. I have many more tips such as keeping a journal, creating a sketchbook, and more that I'm saving for another post. Sparking that desire to express your artistic side can be such a rewarding experience. If you have something that works for you, please share it in the comments below. You never know when you might inspire someone else with the information you've shared!