5 Ways To Find Inspiration When You’re Stuck

5 Ways To Find Inspiration When You’re Stuck

If you’re reading this I’m assuming that you are a creator, or at the very least creatively minded. So no doubt you’ll be able to relate strongly to the topic of this post - creative block. You may have had times over your creative journey where you have found yourself feeling stuck, where inspiration was perhaps harder to find than normal. That’s creativity, right? It sometimes feels like a rollercoaster. Some days you’re on top of the world, the ideas are flooding in, nothing can stop you, you’re like some kind of powerful creative unicorn! On other days you might feel drained of any creative juice whatsoever. Things might look grey, with new ideas and inspiration feeling like they’re totally out of your reach. Sometimes you could feel both in the space of a week, a day even (it me)! At other times, the periods of being “on” or “off” last for ages. We all experience things different but I think it’s safe to say most creatives have experienced some form of creative block, and we each have our own ways of processing and moving through it. In this guide I want to touch on a few things I usually do when feeling blocked, so you can turn to them as suggestions next time you’re going through the same. Let’s dive in!

1. What’s the context?

For me, creativity and the way I’m feeling are completely linked. If I’m feeling good about life, more often than not my ability to be creative is also great. On the flip side, if I’m sad, exhausted, angry, anxious, depressed or anything like that in my personal life, my creativity suffers alongside it.  Do you find this too? I’ve met people who can go through tough times and use it to actually fuel their creativity, but for me this isn’t the case as much as I wish it was! So if I find myself feeling uninspired and blocked, the first thing I do is assess how my life is going outside of my creativity. Am I running on little sleep that week? Is the state of the world (hello COVID) getting me down? Is there something affecting my mental health? Is work super stressful right now? Often I’ll find that there are external factors contributing to an overall less than positive mental space and that this is in turn contributing to my creative block. When I focus on improving that life stuff, my creative flow also improves. So next time you’re feeling stuck, have a look at what’s happening around you because everything’s connected and this could be what’s causing that block.


2. Experiment with creative tools

Sometimes all I need to shake me out of a creative funk is to tap back into my playful side. It’s easy to forget about the importance of experimentation and play when you’ve got your head down trying to make a living from your creativity (I can’t think of anything that kills my creative buzz faster than small biz admin lol!). So for me, it’s important to make time to try new things, experiment with different techniques and just have fun for the sake of being creative (and not for a client). One of the ways I enjoy doing this is by using creative tools, especially digital ones! I’ve been spending a lot of time using apps like Adobe Creative Cloud Express and other Adobe programs to create digital designs, try new techniques, and lean a bit outside of my comfort zone into the world of graphic design and typography. For example, I love remixing existing designs from the Creative Cloud Express template library and creating something in a style different to mine. I also love playing around with text animation and incorporating graphic assets from the Design Asset Library into my experiments. If you’re looking to experiment with some digital design feel free to use the design assets I created for use in Creative Cloud Express (and across other CC programs too!). However you design to do it, blocking out dedicated time for experiment and play can be really freeing if you’re feeling stuck!


3. Log out

During times of creative block it can be tempting to indulge in a bit of that good ol’ doom scroll. You might jump on social media and find yourself scrolling through all the bright, happy images of other creatives achieving great things, and being their best selves. Personally, this tends to NOT make me feel better in any way, if anything it makes me feel worse! There’s nothing yuckier than feeling that you’re so blocked that you may never be creative again (lol dramatic) but then surrounding yourself with images and content of everyone else around you kicking goals and excelling at life. If this sounds like you all over, I highly recommend giving social media a bit of a break for a short time. Perhaps give yourself a day or two where you’re not scrolling through other people’s highlights reels so you can ditch the fomo feelings and focus on looking after yourself. 


4. Explore outdoors

This tip is kind of related to the logging out one above. While you’re taking a break from social media to get those creative juices flowing again, why not get out of your head, and your actual house, and see what the outside world has to offer in terms of re-lighting that creative spark? Obviously a lot of us have restrictions on just how far outside of our homes we can go at the moment due to COVID but I find that even a walk around the block can help lift my mood and put me in a better headspace to let creativity back in. For one, getting your body moving is beneficial in so many ways, but I also find myself noticing little things on my travels that inspire me. This could be things like: an incredible flower that just bloomed in my neighbours garden, the colour combos and textures from plants, an incredible outfit that someone at my local cafe is wearing, a song being played loudly from a passing car… Take photos of these things as you’re walking. You never know, absorbing appealing stuff outside in the real world might shake things up and help you move past that block.


5. Do nothing!

My last tip is one I actually find incredibly difficult to do myself, because I’ve somehow picked up a bad habit over the years of feeling like I have to be productive in some way at all times otherwise I’m not doing enough (so problematic I know). You may be tempted to throw yourself into all the tips in this guide, read all the self help books, try all the creative unblocking exercises under the sun, and not stop until you’re completely back on track. But sometimes your brain is just so overworked from being blocked, stressing about being blocked, and trying to get unblocked, that maybe what you need to do is anything but those things. Crash out on the couch, put on some mindless trash TV, but fall asleep half way through. Sit out in the sun staring at nothing in particular for a while, engage in something you love to do that’s completely unrelated to your creativity. Allow your brain to have a break from thinking about creativity, distract yourself with other things that you enjoy, take your foot off the pedal for a moment. You might actually find that this space is exactly what you need to get that creative energy flowing again.

My favourite 15 minute exercise for getting unstuck

If you’re following me on Instagram you may have seen me make a post a while ago about a fun and colourful exercise I do in my studio when I’m feeling stressed, stuck, or just in need of a little creative break. I find that this exercise helps me to pause and get re-inspired. Give it a go and see if it helps you too!

  1. Stop what you’re doing, put your computer and phone away.
  2. Stand up, have a good stretch and take a few clearing deep breaths.
  3. Pick a colour, any colour. Now spend some time wandering around your studio (or wherever you make creative work) collecting objects in that colour. You could choose stationery, scraps of paper, fabric, ephemera, anything that appeals to you in that specific colour.
  4. Now go back to your desk or workbench and spend a bit more time styling these curated colourful bits and pieces into a visually appealing arrangement. It could be a flat lay, maybe it’s a sculptural form… just allow your hands to guide you, placing each piece deliberately in a way that appeals to you. Take as much time as you need with this. Be slow and breathe deeply as you’re doing it. If your brain starts thinking about work or anything else, just gently bring your thoughts back around to focus on the feel of the objects in your hand, the way they look as they’re arranged, and the colour itself. Treat this kind of like you would with a meditation.
  5. If you wish, leave the arrangement on your desk and come back to it as you continue with your day for a few moments of quiet, deep breathing, enjoyment and satisfaction of the colour and the way it all looks together. Take a photo on your phone if you want and next time you’re out and about feeling a bit frazzled, maybe you can spend some time looking at it as a way to bring yourself back to that mindful moment!

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This post was sponsored by Adobe Express. All opinions and ideas are my own. 


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