We all get into creative funks sometimes. It happens. But how do you get out of them? Do you just wallow in the moment? Do you decide to give up fearing you’ll never be creative again? No. Instead, you can try one of these 8 ideas to smash your creative funk. Some involve work, some involve play, and some of them involve your curiosity. But all of them will help you tap into your creativity and possibly find a new way to express it.

One: Study

Ouch, sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Go to your room and study! But that’s not what this is truly about…well it is in a way…but it’s not. If you’re a writer, go read. If you’re a painter go to a museum. If you’re a musician, listen to music. Remind yourself why you want to do what you do and learn from your favorites.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Stephen King

You can take that quote into any creative field that you work in. If you don’t study the works of others, how are you learning to be a better writer or painter, or musician? This is the easiest option out there to reignite your creativity. Study the masters.

Maybe this is harder for an artist that needs to go to a museum and there are none in town but there are so many virtual museum tours available now. Check out this tour of Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Two: Practice

Practice is kind of like study. You don’t want to do it but it’s important. It’s the only way to get better at your craft whether that’s painting, writing, singing, photography…etc. You can’t expect to do something once and be perfect at it. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, over 10 year overnight sensations.

In How Does One Become a Painter, find out why Vincent Van Gogh spent a whole year painting only flowers.

Three: Do the Hundred

If the thought of studying scared you, then this one might put you into a panic, but it shouldn’t. It’s time to actually create something, anything, and then do it another 99 times in a one-week period. What?! Yes. This isn’t about creating quality, it truly is about the quantity.

In producing 100 items or paragraphs or sketches or sculptures or whatever, you are not going for perfection. Instead, you’re looking for patterns. In this exercise, you might find that you want to work on a different subject or in a different medium. The exercise is designed to help you learn more about yourself and what you really want to work on instead of what you think you should be working on. Check out How to Work Around a Creative Block for more information about this particular exercise.

Four: Use Your Imagination

I know you are probably thinking that you do it every time you write or paint or whatever. But that’s not what I’m asking you to tap into right now. Instead, I want you to use your imagination to come up with solutions or unique things to do.

For instance, one exercise might be to look at a spoon and imagine all the different ways to use it, both realistically and in imaginative play. For instance, you can eat with a spoon, you can even dig with a spoon, or perhaps use it to hammer something. But you can also use it as a microphone or pretend it’s an ice cream cone.

Or think about that stump left over after a tree was cut down. Do you have it dug out or do you turn it into a table for your picnics? Does it become a game board for checkers, chess, or backgammon? A chair or bench? Don’t let me stop your imagination!

Using your imagination in this way can not only help you solve problems you might have around your house and yard, but it also adds fuel to your creative fire for your next project.

Five: Play

Yes! Now we get to play. You can’t expect to be creative if you aren’t adding fuel to the fire. Play is different than everything else we’ve been talking about so far.

It’s important that you play like a child, you’re doing it for fun, not to check something off your Creative To-Do list. You’re doing this for the sheer fun and joy of it. Play a game of cards with friends, go to the movies, make chalk flowers on the sidewalk, sit down on the floor for a tea party with your child.

The ideas are endless, but the benefits are many. Check out these 25 ideas on how to play and pick one that interests you and have fun. No obligations.

Six: Play with Others

This is a little different than collaboration. Playing with others is having fun using your imagination together. Ever watch the movie Date Night? Tina Fey and Steve Carroll play a couple who play a game when they go out to restaurants. They look at other people and make up stories for them. Adlibbing what the other people are saying to each other based on those stories.

You can create these types of stories for any situation. In these Corona times, you can create stories about why people are or are not wearing a mask. Or make up stories about squirrels running around your backyard and then give them funny voices.

Seven: Have a Dinner Party

Seriously. Invite funny and creative people, people you love to talk to and learn from. Get them together for a dinner party. Dinner parties are perfect for this because everyone sits together and talks to each other. Maybe conversation starts superficially–weather, sports, etc., things that are comfortable to break the ice.

But then it builds from there. Sometimes with a good hostess interjecting questions to stir the pot (not in a bad way) to get everyone talking about creativity or what they’re struggling with. Then the conversations build from there.

There are a lot of famous artists and musicians who do this. They get stimulated by the conversations the friends, the laughter. They know that surrounding themselves with other creative people will build on their own creativity.

In his book, Creative Quest, Questlove (the drummer and joint frontman of the Roots, which is the Tonight Show’s house band) shares his secret to these dinner parties. He brings together people of diverse backgrounds. Not just musicians, but writers, artists, actors, comedians, journalists, and chefs. He hopes that they’ll find someone new to collaborate with, hang out with, be friends with.

You might be thinking that you don’t have access to the kind of people that Questlove does and it doesn’t matter. You can achieve similar results with the people in your neighborhood, or work, or church. Keep them separated into their particular group or combine people who’ve never met before. It’s the stimulating conversation that will get you out of your creative funk!

All of the above options are designed to give you a kick in the creative pants. Try one or try two at a time. Or try them all at different times. Mix and match however it works for you. Then let me know what you tried and how it worked.