Wake up, shower, get dressed, drive 29 minutes, find parking, unlock the studio, turn on the lights, get the music going, set out the tools and the paints and then…
No inspiration, no drive to create… the muse is gone.
To me it’s important to take a short break (day or two) to rule out creative fatigue, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll try different ways to kickstart the creative engine. In the case of big external events like an economic recession, a social justice movement, or a pandemic, it may be necessary to go through all the prompts several times before getting back into the creative groove.
1. Jump into a different creative practice. As a painter, drawing with colored pencils, working with clay, or even garment sewing, it really helps to switch it up and may even spark new ideas.
2. Keep multiple journals/sketchbooks, each with a specific purpose. Color mixing, random doodles, collage, “serious” studies, etc. Even on the most discouraging of days, 10 minutes in a journal can do wonders. The result may not turn out as expected, but it isn’t wasted effort – every sketch, every brushstroke, every creative endeavor, no matter how irrelevant it may seem, always counts as practice for the next piece.
3. Go outside into nature, backyard, or a park, feel the sun on your face, listen to the birds, and watch the breeze dance in the trees. Go to a quiet spot on the beach, feel the sand on your toes, hear the sound of the playful waves, taste the salt in the air. Sketch, paint, or write about anything you find inspiring.
4. Put on some of your favorite music, the sort where you know the lyrics and can’t help but dance and/or sing along. Doesn’t matter what kind of music it is, just get moving! Take some plain paper and scribble on it to the rhythm of the music. Not going for anything specific, just trying to get some movement going.
5. Look at some of your earliest work. Notice what you like about it but avoid dwelling on what you don’t like. The idea is to reflect on all the work you’ve created since then to get to your current stage. No one is born painting masterpieces… it takes time, passion and practice, practice, practice.
6. If you have any YouTube tutorials or online classes you purchased and have been meaning to watch, now is the time. But instead of trying to jump in and do the work, just watch and write down what you would like to incorporate. Maybe the instructor pointed to a custom color mix, or a new technique that piques your interest? Wait until the video or class ends before giving it a go.
7. Look at a piece that you consider your pride and joy, your current favorite. Write down a brief list of 3-5 things you like about it. When starting your next piece, look at the list and pick at least 2 things you can try to incorporate. For example, I may pick surface texture and vibrant colors from the list and use them as starting points for the next piece.
There are countless more prompts out there but these are the ones I gravitate towards time and time again. If you’re feeling creatively blocked, I hope you’ll give them a try!