Creative block, it seems inevitable at some point. Whether you are an artist, crafter, writer, musician or even a culinary artist, sometimes the mundane world catches up to us, and we begin to lack creativity. Therefore, I compiled a list of 50 ways to cure creative block, with the hope that at least one strategy will work for you:
1. Go for a long walk, take in the sights, the sounds, the smells, maybe you will run into inspiration on the way, whether you live in a busy city or the suburbs.
2. Inventory your past works, and recognize what’s missing, what you haven’t constructed, or even how something you already created can be improved or elaborated on.
3. Go to a café, a night club, bar, restaurant, fitness center or park, a place where a lot of people frequent, where there may be music, art, and a lot of people to watch. Depending on your genre, perhaps the beauty, architecture, fashion, music, art, theme, or ambiance can inspire you, or give you a glimpse of what people like.
4. Stroll down memory lane, perhaps look at old photo albums or simply close your eyes and remember all the precious moments of your life, your favorite recipe that your mother made and the smell, your baby’s first steps and how it made you feel. Convey those moments in your art and share it with the world.
5. Emulate your favorite artists or those who inspired you, then add your touch to make it your own, even use it as a dedication to them, or name it after them.
6. You literally have the world at your fingertips if you think about it. Web surf for images, sounds, writing or quotes about subjects you love, and let them inspire you to create.
7. Watch a movie or documentary, sometimes they can be life altering, changing your mind about certain issues or simply inspiring you or drawing you to new awareness.
8. Ask your fans, or family and friends what they’d like you to create, you might be surprised of their ideas, and inspired at the same time.
9. As painful and annoying as it can be for some, sometimes you have to dive into something new, even if you don’t like it, for example, listen to a new musical genre you don’t particularly care for, like country or rap, you may be pleasantly surprised to come across something inspiring. Try a new dish you were always afraid to try, nothing you’re allergic to of course, they say taste buds change over time. You might like it. Maybe there’s an art style you don’t really find appealing, take another look, examine why you don’t like it. How could you improve it or translate it into another style?
10. Do something that those closest to you would never expect of you, something you perhaps would never expect of yourself, (the unexpected) maybe vacationing in a place you never gave much thought to, maybe bungee jumping or a roller coaster, maybe getting a tattoo or even camping. This should give you confidence and courage, and perhaps in a strange way, inspire you creatively, to step outside of the “artistic” box you may have become beholden to or translate your experience artistically.
11. A change of location may help inspire you. Maybe seeing the same tree and street sign everyday has become monotonous, maybe you just need to see your world transformed, maybe go on a mini vacation, after all, there are many places in the US that are night and day or worlds apart, architecturally and environmentally… Maybe New Orleans or the sunny beaches on the California coast will inspire you.
12. If you aren’t into travelling much, why not explore a different culture locally, for example, frequent different eateries under the Asian influence, take a martial arts class, perhaps shop in a specialty store carrying Oriental Art; explore the music of that culture by researching online. The possibilities are endless, as America is a compilation of so many cultures that have stores, temples and churches, restaurants, etc.
13. Sometimes the right feng shui can clear your mind. Maybe rearrange and unclutter or redecorate your home, to bring in new vibrantly charged and revitalizing energy. Maybe even call in a feng shui expert to give you tips. Have a garage sale to get rid of unneeded materials, and use the money to purchase what you may need to inspire creativity even.
14. Start a dream diary and let your dreams inspire you to create or manifest in your art what you have experienced or saw in your dreams.
15. Garden. Sometimes nature can be a great inspiratory of song, poetry, and even art. Create an outdoor sanctuary, even if you don’t have a green thumb, anyone can plant a seed and water it. Plants are pretty resilient and can hold their own.
16. Eat out at a new restaurant, and take into account the flavors, colors, arrangement of the food, and how it makes you feel. Ask yourself how this dish can be improved or made better. Of course this tip is better suited to culinary artists, but then again, as mouthwatering and pretty as some dishes are, they may make for a great art piece in the kitchen to preserve the memory of it.
17. Try a new art genre, maybe cooking if you are a musician, maybe sculpture if you are a chef. This may inspire you to relate and incorporate what you’ve learned in your genre of choice. For example maybe you will create a food sculpture one day, or maybe you will write a song about a specific food dish metaphorically.
18. Clean house. Repaint the Walls a different color. Put together a shelf. This is bizarre I know, but through hard work and scrubbing and dusting and vacuuming, painting, and screwing and nailing sometimes your mind wanders, and creativity ensues.
19. Look around the house and figure out some things you need, like maybe you need a miniature table or a place to put your pens and pencils, etc. Make a list. Next, look around your garage or storage facility or even your house for objects and furniture that can fulfill that need, even if you have to transform it or modify it a bit. For example, old vegetable cans can be washed and used at pen and pencil caddies, decorated even. In essence, recycling can lead to creativity big time.
20. Brainstorm. Sure this can be a hard one if your brain is on auto pilot and doesn’t render a thought, but just start writing everything down that comes to your mind, even if it doesn’t make sense, perhaps your brain will allow you to decode the deep central meaning when you have everything out on paper, and trying to make sense of it all will at least utilize some brain energy.
21. For those that are religious or even spiritual, why not pray or meditate for some inspiration?
22. Read quotes about whichever topic comes to mind, maybe love, success, dogs, etc. Quotes usually inspire a certain mindset and inspire wisdom of which can be translated and manifested through art, when you think of how to convey the meaning of words or how it made you feel.
23. For the culinary artist, why not pick two random recipes and combine them, as long as it makes sense, for example, you probably can’t combine meatloaf and chocolate cake necessarily, yuck, but maybe you make a meatloaf shaped like a cake, or maybe you make your chocolate look like a meatloaf… Maybe bacon meatloaf is a better example, or apple pie chocolate cake… This can translate to artists and musicians in the sense of taking two different genres and combining them; imagine opera for example, combined with rap music or a Picasso inspired sculpture?
24. Read. Read a book that is nostalgic or mythological perhaps, or poetry even.
25. Compete. Look up creative competitions or contests online for your specific genre and if you find one you like, join in on the contest or competition. Read up on the guidelines and create to win.
26. Have an art party. Meaning contact your friends, fans, or family and or others who are into crafting, music, cooking, etc. To come over and cook, create, have a jam session or craft. You may learn something new or become inspired by networking and sharing with others.
27. It’s amazing what you do when you are happy or sad. Creativity is born out of both happiness and sadness, so to recreate those feelings, focus on a sad memory, or a memory that aggravates you every time you think about it. Let that feeling surge your energy to get it out of your system by putting it on canvas, or putting it in song, etc.. On the other end of the spectrum, I suggest doing those things that make you feel happy, such as shopping, or eating out at a romantic restaurant with your loved one, or sending someone flowers or going to the movies, etc., etc. When you are happy, you have great energy which harnesses and allows creativity to flow.
28. Motif. Look around your home for art, writings, recipes, music, etc. that fall into the same general category, putting like things with like things. Continue the theme or motif by evaluating out of everything you have, what is lacking, or what you’d want to see amongst your collection. Once you figure that out, you will be ready to create it.
29. Focus on someone or something you have neglected. Oftentimes, there is someone or something in our lives we have pushed to the wayside and pretty much forgot about. Maybe you don’t spend as much time as you used to with your pet, for example, or maybe you haven’t talked to your Aunt in Maine for a while now. Now is your chance to make it up to them, by creating an art piece or useable craft or edible dish that they would love, to their liking. If it is not a person you neglected, but maybe an old desk you still haven’t revitalized, get creative, make it into an art piece or something that you can use in your genre, a display desk or canvas holder, etc…
30. Be a looky-loo, meaning check out sites like Craftgawker and Pinterest and Etsy, under your genre, and surf out your competition or others who create in your genre and let it inspire you, maybe you will come across something you want to make, or something you know you can make better or make your own, it’s what I call “shopping to create”.
31. Take a class. There is no better way than taking a class sometimes to be able to conjure up creativity, in your genre. Not only can you improve your skills and learn something new, but I am sure you will pick up inspiration along the way and establish a network of artistic friends or fellow students, sure to inspire you as well.
32. Junk Pile. Collect all your art supplies, craft supplies, recyclable material, unfinished music compilations, ingredients soon to expire or in dire need of use, classic recipes, etc. and make something out of nothing. Let your supplies and materials do the talking and your hands do the walking so to speak. Perhaps creativity can develop out of nothing.
33. Find your favorite object in your household, maybe it’s a high hell shoe, a certain dish you love like a crystal vase, or a piece of furniture. Why not create an ode, poetry, story centered around it, or use the dish to cook in or serve a meal in, or paint a picture of it, or embellish it with rhinestones, etc. Make your favorite object the subject of your art piece, after all, it’s your favorite right?
34. Dumpster dive for inspiration or maybe if garbage grosses you out, check the recycle bins or hit up a thrift store to find something you can use musically, maybe an old cd for inspiration, or a dish to prepare a feast in, or an old recipe book to reveal new dishes to you, that you never attempted before, or an old worn purse you can craft into a masterpiece or something artsy you can revamp, etc. Sometimes art can be a hidden treasure, awaiting your creative juices …
35. Museum hop. One of the best places for inspiration is a place they usually keep art and relics of the past and present. Why not go to your city’s art district and walk the museums for inspiration? For the writer and poet, try the library. For the musician, maybe an orchestra, concert, bar or night club where they have live music. For the crafter, why not a craft or street fair?
36. Browse art blogs for inspiration.
37. Teach. Sometimes hosting a class and teaching and sharing your gifts with pupils can be an inspiration in itself, especially when you see the feedback and art pieces your students produce.
38. Get Political. Think of a cause you’d like to support with your art, sometimes helping others can help you, especially with inspiration and creativity. How can your art, whether music, painting, sculpture, crafts, culinary art, etc. help you give back and support a just cause, or make a political statement, etc.?
39. Charity Work. Sometimes, giving back can conjure creativity. Perhaps check out Craigslist under gigs or barter or community volunteers to see if maybe someone needs a wedding singer or a photographer or craft, art piece, food dish, etc. to get your creative juices stirring, it can be added to your portfolio, or lead to a bigger network, clients or fans. Sometimes you have to give to get.
40. Self-Discovery. Sometimes getting a deeper understanding of yourself can lead to creative inspiration, in the sense that when you self-assess you come into a greater understanding of yourself. Ask yourself, “What is my mantra? What is it that makes me tick? What words do I like by?” Now express and convey that very sentiment through your art.
41. Expose your secrets. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How would you manifest your dirty little secrets through art, without saying a single word, be it song, a dish, a poem, a sculpture, craft, painting etc.? Make it metaphorical, or symbolic. For example, for the culinary artist, maybe you absolutely covet cupcakes to the point of addiction, and maybe you are appalled by bacon and find it disgusting, being a vegan, and you secretly like the color brown, but would never tell anyone because it’s considered an ugly color. So to translate that into a dish, maybe you create a cupcake, with bacon bits and cream cheese filling, with chocolate frosting on top… (Okay, far-fetched I know, and hardly secretive, but I was just giving an example of how this can be done or translated).
42. Pick a holiday theme. We all have a favorite holiday, do we not? Maybe Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s, Easter, St Patrick’s Day, or Halloween, whatever it might be, why not pick your favorite and let your ideas run wild. Maybe even merge it with a favorite movie, animal, color or book, for example, one of my favorite themes that got my creative juices flowing was “Star Wars Christmas”. Create holiday décor and art for it. This is sure to get your creative mojo flowing…
43. Do the very thing you don’t want to do. This may seem like a sure way to kill all creative endeavors, but sometimes creativity can be sparked with a challenge. Thus, I challenge you to do the thing you don’t want to do. Write down 3 things you’d never want to do or absolutely abhor, maybe it’s write a country song or make a meat dish if you are vegan or sew if you lack sewing skills. Put them in a hat, close your eyes, shake it up and draw. That is the thing fate has decided you must do, that you don’t want to do. This will stir your creative juices in the sense, not only will you more than likely appreciate the things you love doing even more, but you may gain a new appreciation for something you once hated that you can do just as well, or you may be inspired to tie the two together in some mystic way.
44. Make the ugly beautiful. If you have something ugly in your household, it’s time to transform it into something beautiful, regardless of the genre. If you don’t have anything, ask a friend or family member, for some old junk in their garage, fridge or on their book or music shelf, and make it better or make a better version of it. This will require a creative mind for sure, but when you focus, and maybe with someone else’s help ask them what they’d like it to be, you can think of ways to transform it.
45. Watch the News. In all honesty, hearing what is going on around the world, in all its negative veracity, has always stirred in me, great emotion. Does it not make you upset, some of what you hear? If so, take that negative energy and express it through art. Let the world know how you feel about it through an art piece, or song, etc.
46. Choose only one color. I challenge you to create an art piece, food dish, etc. using only one color, sure the color can fluctuate, meaning having differing shades of the one color you choose, but only one color. To translate this to terms of music or writing, think of one color and the emotion it expresses or embodies, such as blue meaning sad and red meaning angry, and channel that emotion only into a song or poem or story, make the reader and the listener feel it.
47. Listen to your heart. Okay, it’s a far-fetched idea, I’ll admit, but what is your heart telling you to create? What do you have a deep unending love for? What or whom are you fond of? What makes you radiate with love, every time you think about it? If you are heartless on the other hand, think about who loves you, why they love you, and the meaning or significance that person has to you in your life, and express that through your art genre. It may make a perfect gift aside from being a cure to creative block.
48. Think Horror. Some of us shrink from horror movies and the like, but for art that is symbolic, attention grabbing and sure to create a stir think of a horrific incident you experienced and survived, or a scary moment in your life, or someone or something that has always scared you or preyed on your fears and create it, sing about it, write about it, draw or paint it, craft it, cook it or food sculpt it.
49. Get Organized. Ever think your creative energy might not be flowing because you’re all over the place? Get organized. A well-kept art arena will draw you in like a moth to a flame. If you don’t have a crafting corner or art or music studio or office to write, it’s time to set one up, even if it’s a small corner of a room, make it your creative corner. Culinary artists, arrange your kitchen to make it a chef’s paradise, make it more orderly, more easily accessible, easier to clean. Get some state of the art equipment and cookware if you haven’t, more shelving units for storage, etc. Whatever you may need or want, get it. Really make it yours; create the space and then you will be drawn to it, daily…
50. Finally, sometimes creativity is right under your nose, you’ve been trying to channel creative energy, burning incense, looking through art magazines, etc, etc., but maybe quite literally, it’s under your nose, your mustache, your lips, chin, and body… You after all are a marvelous piece of art –are you not? The one person you know more than anyone else on the face of the earth has to be you, express “yourself –you” through art. Draw your hands, write an autobiography, what is your favorite dish or dishes, think about combining them together somehow, or adding a new ingredient, think about you and what you want, let your focus be on yourself, how often do you focus on you? This is your chance; after all, your creative mojo starts and ends with you.
Tapas Dasmohapatra. (2012). Think. [Picture, Graphic]. Retrieved from http://tapasmotivation.blogspot.com/2012/05/have-i-made-it-large-trap.html
Von Dirk Metzmacher. (n.d.) Creative Block. [Picture].Retrieved from http://www.photoshop-weblog.de/creative-block/