You can’t really lose your creativity; it’s always with you. But you can lose touch with it. Sometimes lose your ability to connect with it, and you’re in a creative rut. Or worse, we lose our faith in our creative ability. Here’s what to do if you’ve lost your creativity.
Why We Lose Our Creativity
The first step in reconnecting with your creativity is figuring out why you lost it in the first place.
- Are you stressed because you’re overworked or haven’t slept enough?
- Do you fill your days with too many useless “to-dos” in order to feel busy and then collapse in front of the TV at night?
- Are not taking care of yourself and taking time for self-care?
- Trying to edit your work before you’ve finished it?
- Are you listening to your inner critic, tell you that you’re not good enough?
- Do you feel like you’re in a creative rut and just creating the same thing over and over again?
No matter why you feel like you’ve lost your creativity, we’ll be able to address those concerns and help you find a way to reconnect with your inner core, your creativity.
Finding Your Creativity
Time to Recharge.
When you’re stressed and tired, it’s hard to be creative. So the first thing we need to do is make sure we’re getting enough sleep. Staying up and worrying that you haven’t worked on your project isn’t going to help you get it done any faster.
In fact, it might delay it even more because you’re just creating a merry-go-round of not enough sleep, too tired to work on your project, and staying up late worrying about your project…leads to not enough sleep….rinse and repeat.
You need to find a way to break the cycle, and that comes from regular self-care. Yes. Taking care of yourself can lead to increased creativity which starts with regular sleep. And if you’re finding it hard to get to sleep at night because your thoughts are just chasing around that merry-go-round of worry about not working on your project, then start with meditation.
You might be wondering how meditation can be effective if your mind is racing around with so many thoughts you can’t keep up with them. But that’s the perfect time to practice. Because that is what meditation is…a practice.
In meditation, you sit with your thoughts and try to detach from them. Or you sit and focus on one specific thing, like your breath or a mantra, that will help to move you away from your racing thoughts. When my monkey mind is trying to take control, I find that focusing on my breath is the best remedy for me.
I do a counting meditation where I count my breaths from 1 to 10, then 2 to 10, and then 3 to 10, and so on. When I get to just 10, I start over from the beginning. For me, this specific meditation requires enough attention to the sequence that (for the most part) I’m able to let go of the other thoughts in my head.
If I do find myself going back to the thoughts in my head, once I recognize what I’m going, I let them go and return to counting.
But meditation does more than just help you get to sleep. It actually improves your creativity because it stimulates the neocortex, which is the part of the brain involved in creative thinking and problem-solving. Here is a short article from HuffPost on how Meditation improves your creativity. And Are You on the Path of Meditation is an earlier post that gives more detailed instructions on this counting meditation. Meditation for Beginners is a great place to start if you’re new to it.
Getting enough sleep and meditation are only a couple of ways to recharge you so that you can recharge your creativity. Other techniques include ensuring that your schedule includes “me” time for things like massages, walks, exercise, and especially reading, which not only can help you relax but add fuel to your creative fires.
Halt the Critic
Whether that critic is your inner voice or some external voice telling you, you’re not good enough. Stop listening! Your inner voice is wrong. You are good enough.
I know it’s hard. One strategy is to write out your negative thoughts. Put it on paper. Look at them and then turn them into positive thoughts. For instance, if your inner critic is telling you that you’re not creative and that your work sucks, then write it down. Next, rewrite it in a positive manner. “I am creative and get joy from practicing my craft.”
For every negative thought that you write down, you need to counter it and turn it into a positive thought. These are now your affirmations. You should say them before you go to bed and when you first get up in the morning. And then, each time during the day that you think of one of these negative thoughts don’t just let it flow unchallenged through your mind. Counter it by repeating the new positive thought that you created.
This will take time, but if you keep it up, eventually, you will find that you’re thinking these negative thoughts less and less, and the positive thoughts come more naturally to your mind.
And take some inspiration from the below quote found in Vincent Van Gogh ~ Creative Inspiration:
If something in you yourself says “you aren’t a painter” – IT’S THEN THAT YOU SHOULD PAINT…”
Stop Correcting or Editing Before You’re Finished Creating
This one is hard. I know. I’ve done it myself and actually stopped creating anything for years because I was trying to edit each sentence as I wrote it. Not a happy situation. It became so frustrating that I eventually stopped trying at all.
Stopped until I found Morning Pages in Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Morning pages taught me to free write the crap out. All those negative inner thoughts? Just wrote them out. Scraps and fragments of anything lurking in my brain? Just write it out. Three pages. Every Morning. No editing.
At first, it was hard starting, but eventually, I got into a rhythm. It taught me to write it out and not worry about what I was writing. So now, when I sit down to write, I just write it out first. I’m actually quite messy. I write in a Moleskine notebook first and all odd angles with arrows and circles. My paragraphs aren’t in order, sometimes they aren’t even whole paragraphs, just a sentence or a couple of words, and they certainly won’t be their final version, but I’ve learned to let it fly first and edit later.
How to Get Out of Your Creative Rut
Sometimes we just feel like we don’t know how to get out of a creative rut. Everything we make is boring. It’s the same thing over and over again. Might as well give up if I can’t create something new and exciting…right?
Wrong! Now is not the time to throw in the towel. Now is the time to go for a walk. Or do the dishes. Or anything else that gets you out of your head and focused on something else besides your work. Many artists tell stories of having breakthroughs while they are doing the dishes or taking a walk. The very act of doing something so mundane allows your subconscious to continue working, to continue creating.
You could also have a tea party with a child. Or maybe make a mud pie? Perhaps, it’s even time to pull out an adult coloring book. Read this post I wrote on how to Tap Into Your Creativity or this one on Why Mud Pies are Important to Innovation.
You are still creative. We are all creative. We sometimes need to be reminded of how to get back in touch with our creative, playful selves. Let me know your way to jumpstart your creative juices to get out of a creative rut and connect with your creativity.