So you’re busy with client work or day job work, and then you sit down to draw or do something more creative… and you find you’re fresh out of ideas. A blank page staring at you without any idea of what to fill it with. Sounds familiar?
As a creative person of any type I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s not always easy to turn on the switch and be creative on demand. Where client work is concerned it’s easier to do this since there’s a brief and a specific goal. I like to always have creative side projects on the go at the same time as my other work, for my own passion and enjoyment and to keep me creatively stimulated. Because these are more open with less of a brief and more of a demand for fresh ideas, this is where I find I go through some phases of creativity I thought I’d share here – see if you can relate 😉
Phase 1: ALL the Ideas!
This is the phase where I have so many cool ideas coming in that I’m kind of buzzing, constantly excited about how to make them happen, making notes in my ideas sketchbook so that I don’t forget them, and just generally feeling great about it and super stimulated.
Generally during this time I’m quite busy with client projects so my time available to act on these ideas is limited, which is why an ideas sketchbook is important to keep them for later.
Phase 2: Idea Drought
Thinking of cool projects or ways to execute project ideas becomes more difficult until… I literally have no idea. Pick up a pen to draw and can’t think of a single thing to draw. Want to write a blog post but can’t think of anything to post about. Look at a list of previously noted ideas but can’t muster up motivation to work on them. You get the what I mean… just completely blocked – the opposite of Phase 1. This gets pretty frustrating.
During this time I try to make progress with less creative tasks that need doing, but also force myself to just do something like drawing or painting even if the results are not exciting for me or worth sharing.
Phase 3: Everyone is Better Than Me
Phase 2 often leads to excessive inspiration searching online. Phase 3 features a kind of rising panic from looking through other people’s work on social media, etc, and just getting overwhelmed by the wealth of incredible talent out there. The general feeling is something like “there’s so much amazing stuff out there, so much better than mine, how can I ever compete, why do I even try, this is hopeless, should I even be in this industry…” etc, etc. Bit of negative self talk, not the healthiest thought pattern, but it happens and can get pretty overwhelming. To make it worse this phase often overlaps with phase 2 where I’m not producing things I’m excited about.
During this phase I try to limit looking at other people’s work and just focus on looking through the aforementioned ideas sketchbook and trying to plan for making those ideas happen, or take some online classes or do some creative DIY. It’s not a fun phase, but it eventually passes into….
Phase 4: Comeback Kid
In phase 2 and 3, one of the things I do to get my mind moving in different directions is seeking inspiration that isn’t online, and playing with other mediums or fields that I’m not used to. This eventually tends to loosen things up and get the creative juices flowing again. Offline inspiration for me comes from sources like:
• spending time in nature, examining all the details, colours, patterns and shapes in plants and bugs
• spending time with people who inspire and stimulate me
• looking through magazines and books
• taking a course or learning about something that I don’t know much about
Slowly you feel an idea or two get sparked, and that exciting feeling that comes with it… aaannd… we’re happily back to phase 1!
So if you’ve experienced something similar, don’t despair. The phases sometimes need to take their course, be patient with yourself and keep going 🙂
Can you relate? Do you have your own ways to boost creativity or stay motivated and inspired when you’re in a slump? Let me know in the comments.