close-up of two art journals filled with watercolor paintings
All photos: Greta Hoffman

Imagine looming deadlines, and you’re facing a blank screen or canvas. This phenomenon is often referred to as writer’s block or art block, and unfortunately, it’s quite a common occurrence for professionals working in fields that engage their creative side. Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or someone who marries their creative skills and technical skills in a discipline like web design, it’s more than likely you’ve faced this dreaded situation more than once in your career. So, how do you get unstuck and break out of your creative rut?

You’ve probably already heard people’s advice to take your eyes away from your canvas or screen and do a little walking to get those creative juices flowing again. But here are a few more creative and surprising suggestions that may be better at jogging your imagination and putting you in the mood to innovate again:

#1. Unleash Your Inner Child

Remember childhood days when you’d spend finger painting and building block towers? Now’s a good time to embrace your inner child again and let your imagination run as wild as a child’s does. Doodle on any available surface, grab some finger paints or other media, and create art without rules or inhibitions.

If your work typically includes writing or communication, try aesthetic journaling or some imaginative writing exercises with silly writing prompts. The most important thing is to be spontaneous and to let go of your impulse to self-criticize. Unleashing your inner child will free your mind from its creative shackles, potentially leading you to a treasure trove of delightful ideas.

#2. Explore Creativity in Nature

Step away from the glaring and sometimes sterile digital environment behind your screen and venture into nature's serene settings. Observe the intricate patterns of a butterfly's wings, the vibrant hues of a flower, and the graceful curves of tree branches. As many artists can attest, nature has an innate creativity that can inspire breathtaking masterpieces. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for poetry, visual art, or even bits of coding, let the beauty, colors, and structures of Mother Earth serve as inspirations for your next works.

woman painting watercolor flowers in her journal

#3. Dress Differently

Why should creativity be confined to canvas? Use your style to express yourself through fashion. Dare to step out of your usual office attire and go to work with a bold top tamed with your everyday pair of denim leggings. Moreover, experiment with outfits that push the envelope, mix patterns like a pro, and wear accessories that you usually shy away from. Dressing differently will not only boost your confidence but also inspire you to see the world through a kaleidoscope of fresh ideas.

#4. Utilize Sensory Stimulation

Creative minds love sensory stimulation. Surround yourself with scents, sounds, and textures that can tickle your artistic fancy. Blast some eclectic tunes, light scented candles, and immerse yourself in a tactile world of fabrics, clay, and intriguing textures. The sensory smorgasbord will surely set your imagination on fire.

#5. Collaborate with Other People

If the predictability of your own style and creative approach is what limits you, it may be a good idea to seek creative inspiration from others. Partner up with a fellow creative soul, or even choose someone from a completely unrelated field. The latter may give you some welcome perspective about other approaches to creativity and problem-solving. Whether you consult a scientist, a chef, or a craftsman, let your differences in perspective lead to more ingenious ideas.

#6. Rediscover Your Old Hobbies

Your creative rut may be just the invitation you need to dust off those forgotten hobbies from yesteryear. Maybe you were once into origami or playing a musical instrument, or perhaps you exercised a kinetic form of creativity as a dancer. Now is a good time to revisit those old passions and let them breathe new life into your current creative endeavors. It will be like rekindling a childhood friendship – familiar, yet full of exciting discoveries.

#7. Incorporate Mindfulness Practices into Your Routine

Don’t forget that restfulness and relaxation often spark creativity, and should thus be part of the creative process. Relax your mind, and be present in the moment. After all, mindfulness practices aren't just for Zen masters; it's for anyone seeking clarity and focus.

Having a calm mind can help a creative person overcome mental barriers, enabling them to access new perspectives and develop breakthroughs. It also heightens one’s ability to capture the nuances and intricacies of their work, which often results in a more refined and creative output. Bake mindfulness into your creative routine, and you’ll see the difference that it makes.

woman painting watercolor flowers in her journal

#8. Create in Reverse

If you haven’t already tried the technique of creating in reverse, start with the end in mind. Instead of going step-by-step from the beginning to the end of your creative process, work backward from your final vision. It will be like assembling a puzzle backward – surprisingly refreshing and bound to lead to some unexpected creations. 

Writers and designers, in particular, may appreciate this technique, as it allows them to build up from what they imagine in their heads instead of agonizing over how to start something.

#9. Embrace Your Mistakes and Imperfections

Lastly, who said that perfection is the holy grail of creativity? Don’t be so harsh on yourself when creating something, and acknowledge your quirks and the little hiccups you encounter along the way. Even the world’s greatest creators stumbled somewhere, and it’s healthy for you to welcome the humanity of the creative process as they once did.

#10. Nature Immersion Retreats

Have you ever heard of nature immersion? Nature immersion retreats are journeys into the heart of the natural world, designed to help you reconnect with yourself and the environment in a deep and meaningful way. Imagine trading the hum of city life for the rustle of leaves, the scent of pine needles replacing exhaust fumes, and the rhythm of your breath matching the ebb and flow of a nearby stream. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? 

The whole concept of nature immersion retreats goes beyond simple camping or hiking. These retreats are thoughtfully curated experiences that combine various activities and practices to facilitate a full-sensory engagement with nature. 

Final Thoughts...

Getting yourself back into the “zone,” creativity-wise, will take just a little more effort and out-of-the-box thinking. Give yourself permission to fumble around a bit and get a fresh new perspective to view the world. In doing so, you may be able to gather new ideas and insights that will be a boon to your upcoming projects.

Don’t forget – it’s totally normal for anyone doing creative work to experience challenges that block their creativity. Be kind and patient with yourself, and trust that inspiration will eventually come back in the form you need it to be.

Lots of love,