When inspiration hits, you happily busy yourself developing that new line of sugar scrubs or tea infused soaps--it feels as though nothing can stop you. Ideas seem to come from nowhere to peak your confidence and curiosity.
Just as readily as inspiration hits, the tap to your creative juices runs dry from time-to-time. The two experiences are as different as night and day, the latter leaving you baffled and frustrated over your loss of creativity. “Why is this happening?”, you may ask, “How long will this last?”.
These blocks can be caused from a depletion of creative energy after you’ve been on an innovative roll. They also occur when your thinking shifts to something negative or painful. Anything from a bout of the flu, to questioning your ability can cause a shutdown of your creative juices.
Even the most brilliant minds that have walked the earth experience this mysterious phenomenon. Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe are only a few of the gifted artists believed to have experienced creative blocks. Even Charles Schultz had periods of difficulty connecting with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Not to worry—you are in good company.
What are the worst and best things to do when you’re creatively blocked? The worst thing is to allow the inner-critic to take over. And, you’ll find that it’s counter-productive to attempt to force your brain to perform. Instead, try a few things from the list below.
Take a break.
Creativity does not operate on demand. Even when time is tight, it’s wise to step away from the process and engage in a relaxing activity. Take a long walk in nature, tour an art museum, meditate, get in a good workout or indulge in a good novel. Once you relax your mind it’s more likely that the barrier to your inspiration will relax as well.
Turn to curiosity.
Creatives who earn a living from their art sometimes forget that the process is playful. Children possess uninhibited minds and view life through a lens of curiosity and playfulness. “What if,” or “Pretend that,” children often say as they set out to enjoy an activity. Follow suit by taking a curious perspective as you go through your daily activities.
Explore new ingredients and recipe ideas.
Grab a stack of past and current issues of Handmade Magazine to see what’s brought to the forefront each month. Seeing a new ingredient or a combination that you hadn’t thought of can spark all sorts of ideas. I once noticed a suggestion to combine rosemary and orange essential oils for a new and refreshing scent. I was intrigued by this unlikely combination, and soon my kitchen was overflowing with tools and ingredients--I loved it!
Soak in some color.
Just when you think every possible color combination already exists, a new and exciting grouping crops up. Check out Pantone® for the latest color trends. Walk through the clothing department in big box retailers, or go to your local florist to see what new combinations are being introduced. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colors, just as you experiment with blending scents and ingredients. The very first things that capture your buyer’s eye are color and shape, so make sure your product stands out from the rest.
Take a new perspective at a craft show.
Going back to my earlier point about curiosity, put on a different hat and take yourself to a few boutiques or a craft show. Instead of seeing things as a crafter, view them from the perspective of a consumer. What gets your attention and why? What feels new, rather than the same old concept under different wrap? Oftentimes, this type of exploration will spark ideas. As your idea evolves, it will look nothing like the source from which it came. That’s the magic of this exercise.
Browse social platforms.
Relax with a cup of your favorite tea while you casually peruse a few social media sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. What posts capture your attention the most? Remember that ideas are often generated from unexpected places: recipes, fashion and gardening are all great topics to browse as you visit online communities. Since you are browsing, head over to see what’s hot on Amazon and Etsy as well.
Notice retail trends.
Large chains like Bath & Body Works, Pottery Barn and Yankee Candle Co. have the financial resources to test, research and experiment in the marketplace. Piggyback on their results to get out of your rut. Take a fun trip to the mall to examine the new and lasting trends. Observe packaging trends as well. Sometimes crafters hold on to their look for years past its expiration date. There’s nothing like a brand makeover to inspire you, as well as your audience.
Be patient with yourself when you are in a slump. Know that, while ideas aren’t pouring out of you, your subconscious mind is taking in everything and will surprise you when the time is right.