9 WAYS TO KEEP CrEATIVE
No matter what area you work in, no one is immune to a creative block. It can sneak up on you in the middle of a sentence, at the beginning of a project or just as you’re about to hit that send button. The more pressure and stress we put on ourselves, the bigger this block seems to become. And there probably hasn’t been a more stressful time than the last few months.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling to keep creative - it’s happening to us all. Here are a few tips if you need a hand jumping over the metaphorical hurdle.
An exercise coined by Julia Cameron, the author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ (which is a very handy creative bible), Morning Pages is a low-stakes, consistent practice that keeps you in a creative mindset. Every morning you write three pages consisting of whatever crosses your mind – a total stream of consciousness with absolutely no consequences, all the while helping to relieve the anxiety of your inner critic.
Sometimes there’s just no forcing it, and in fact, it’s more likely to be beneficial to get away from your desk and give yourself a break. Heading out for even just a short walk will help you reset, and if you can go further afield to a field for the day, even better.
A study by Stanford University revealed that spending time in nature shifts the way you perceive time, making you slow down and reducing stress. In fact, according to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, you only need to spend 20 minutes outdoors a day to start feeling the benefits to your mental health. Here are some of the local walks around Brighton you can try.
The dreaded imposter syndrome can be a difficult one to shake, and it’s pretty hard to get your work done when your brain is telling you you’re a fraud. You’re not alone; high-profile celebrities from Serena Williams to Tom Hanks have expressed experiencing imposter syndrome in their careers.
While there are many factors as to why this feeling can fester, Andy Molinsky from Psychology Today explains how one of the best ways to combat it is by focussing on what you’re learning, not on your failures. By cultivating a learning mindset, ‘your mistakes are seen as an inevitable part of the learning process rather than as more evidence of your underlying failings.’
Do a bit of research into your favourite artist, musician, writer or whoever it is that inspires you and have a look at what their creative processes were. David Bowie used a method invented by one of his own heroes William S Burroughs, where he would cut up his own writings, newspaper clippings or other peoples’ books and rearrange them to shape the lyrics of his songs.
Maya Angelou had a hotel room on a monthly retainer, but would not use it to sleep. Instead, she would ask for everything on the walls to be removed and for the sheets not to be changed. She said of her process, “I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything.”
Another great exercise of flexing your creative muscles is 30 Circles from researcher Bob McKim, which Tim Brown popularised in his Ted Talk, Tales of Creativity and Play. Draw 30 circles on a piece of paper, set a timer for one minute and then try to adapt as many circles as you can into different objects in that time. Try not to edit or second guess yourself – it’s not about creating a perfect work of art, but about getting your brain into an imaginative mode.
Boredom has got itself a bad rap, seen as something to be avoided at all costs, however, allowing yourself to be bored can be a brilliant way to spark creativity.
A study published in the Academy of Management Discoveries found that people who had gone through a boredom-inducing task were better than their peers at a later idea-generating task. Boredom also will help give yourself a break away from work stresses, and it’s good to get bored in the ‘right’ way, like practising meditation or mindfulness to give your mind a break.
It’s common to be cautious around who you share your creative projects with. Relinquishing any control over such personal work can be difficult, but it can be a helpful tool to share your work.
Find people to share your work with and set yourself a deadline of when you’ll send it to them. This helps you take some accountability for the progress of your project and sets a goal for you to reach which can massively improve your productivity.
There’s a lot of pressure around to come up with the next big idea, the new thing that will change the shape of the landscape. But realistically, we’re all a product of our influences and, if you’re a fan of postmodernism, it’s widely accepted that it’s basically impossible to be entirely original. Starting as a speech, Austin Kleon’s hugely popular book ‘Steal Like an Artist’ discusses exactly this; we’re a sum of the art, text and media we consume, and that’s okay!
Find your people. Reach out to those you trust. Can’t find a group? Make your own. Bouncing ideas off of each other can prove to be an invaluable source of inspiration. Finding a place to build your own community and meeting likeminded people can be a saving grace when working.
PLATF9RM is proud to be the home of an eclectic and vibrant community of creative, hardworking and innovative people and we love to foster and nurture those connections. It’s a place of support and camaraderie, which we couldn’t be prouder of.
So, if you’re finding yourself a bit stuck, book yourself in for a trial and find your community.