{The Daily Creative} Notes on Liberating Yourself from Creative Deadlock

The Daily Creative_#1

{The Daily Creative is a regular-ish series of blog posts that explore finding creative inspiration in the everyday.}

Lately I’ve been walking around in a creative funk.  Cranking out the work for clients, but letting my own creative projects and interests fall by the too busy, too stressed, too responsible, too insert-your-affliction-of-choice-here wayside.

It’s creative malaise; I’m feeling uninspired.

Is it just me who suffers from this malady, or does the same thing happen to you?

If you’re a creative who makes a living providing creative services to others, do you become so uber-focused on client projects that your creative capital is spent by the time you’re ready to let your freak flag fly on your own projects?

For me those projects are photography and non-client-related writing.  But lately, not so much.

So I’ve been thinking about what it would take to liberate myself from this impasse and get my creative mojo back.  And I think I’ve found the answer:

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

The answer is finding creative inspiration in the everyday.  In the circadian rhythm of “normal” days. In the mundane, even. Because creativity is everywhere, sometimes you just have to remove the veil from your eyes to see it.

So my promise to myself is to actively seek out creative inspiration in my immediate surroundings, daily. In what I read, what I see, and what I experience.  And to find it in the far off yonder too.  I’ll look for it with a vengeance.  I’ll peek around corners for it. I’ll disappear down long hallways trying to find it. I’ll meditate on it.  I’ll ask the gods to visit it upon me.

And I’ll chronicle it here, in this new category on the blog called “The Daily Creative.”

I have no idea what this will end up looking like, could be boring as hell or wildly exciting, who knows?  But I won’t judge it, I’ll just be the conduit for whatever shows up and let it look like it wants to.

And you?

To all you creatives out there spinning your web of mad genius for clients during the day and finding the inspiration and the time for your own projects at night and on weekends (or wherever and whenever you find it), please weigh in here. Share your daily rituals, tips for staying in the creative flow, where and how you find inspiration, and especially, how you make the commitment to practicing your creative craft daily, even when there’s no one to invoice for it.

Please share in the comments below!

 

Comments

  1. Great piece, Kimberly:

    I know how it is to walk around in a creative funk. It’s happened to me quite a few times.

    When I’m feeling like that, or I have writers block, I’ll usually browse around forums in my niche for content ideas. Another thing that I’ve started doing more recently is just simply emailing my subscribers and asking them what they’d like to learn more about. That usually does well for getting my creative juices following.

    One other thing that’s good for content ideas is reading the comments on popular blogs. All the interesting conversation that takes place there is great for stirring up the creativity pot.

    This is my first time visiting your blog, Kimberly and I’m enjoying what I’ve seen and read so far. I’ll be sure to share this post with my social circle. I’ll also comment and share it on BizSugar.

    Keep the creative juices flowing and I look forward to connecting with you more soon. 🙂

    Ti

    • Kimberly says:

      Hi there Ti,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

      It’s so useful to hear what other creatives do to keep from falling into a creative funk. ; ) I’ve been experimenting lately with getting up earlier and working on my own writing before I start any client work for the day, and that’s been pretty successful. And I’ve been actively trying to find creative inspiration in the day-to-day by allowing myself to stop throughout the day and drink in the creativity all around me, because truly, inspiration is everywhere. : )

      You’re so right — emailing subscribers is a fantastic way to get creative ideas. There’s nothing like checking in directly with your audience to find out what they want to know about, which can often produce enough content ideas for weeks.

      Thanks so much for sharing your tips and tricks,Ti, I really appreciate it!

      Kimberly

  2. Hi Kim, this is really a natural phenomena of which we all suffers from at one point in time and, I agree with all that TiRoberts said about how to combat the creative funk of a thing. Another thing I does when it comes to writing is that, I discovered that I writes better early in the morning than any other time.

    Each time I’m writing early in the morning, the creativity and motivation is always there so, that’s also something that others should find out in order to know what time of the day works for you the most.

    Thanks for sharing this with the bizsugar community.

  3. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Valentine.

    I agree with you about writing early in the morning — that’s my best, most productive time for writing too.

    Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it!

  4. Cultivate a sense of wonder.
    It makes more room for larger experiences.

    Go Outside.

    Just Be. Stop. Look. Listen.

    Be still. Be in nature.

    You may be graced with the presence of a bird. You may get a brief opportunity, just enough to view it’s colors before it flies, to hear its song before it leaves.
    Every time I make a new bird object, I want to ask you, “What do birds bring to your life?”

    Ever wonder: why is that bird here and not there? What does it eat? How does it find its way back to this place year after year?
    Where do birds sleep? Why are bird nests all so different?
    How do they live at 20 below zero? Why have so many songbirds disappeared?
    As you go about your daily routine, does it ever occur to you to ask why does nature matter?

    Ask yourself, ”How can I create a larger experience on a daily basis?”

    • Thanks so much for your comment, and for your lovely ideas for finding creative inspiration.

      I love the idea of “cultivating a sense of wonder.” It makes for a much more expansive view of the everyday. And of course, there is beauty and wonder in the “everyday.”

  5. Hi, Kimberly

    I take a walk outside, sit in the park and just look at the people that are there in the park, I look at design magazines, I go fabric shopping, visiting furniture store, and antique stores, this usually gets my creative juices flowing.

    • Hi Christine, thanks so much for your comment!

      I love *all* your suggestions because I do many of those things myself. : )

      I especially love getting out in nature and away from my computer — that works well for me. And don’t even get me started on looking at design magazines — I could do that for hours. ; )

      Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas!

  6. Hi Kimberly,

    Great topic.

    I’ve been meaning to write to thank you. I used the suggestions you give in your About Page article to write the About page for my website/blog, that I launched over the weekend (www.daonow.com if you want to check it out). Your ideas were so helpful. I’ve been recommending you to friends.

    As far as renewing creative inspiration- that’s where I am right now, exhausted from all the work I did to launch the site. I hadn’t shopped for food or done laundry for a while so first I had to catch up on that.

    Last night I went to see a movie – Don Jon- highly recommended. Seeing or hearing other artists work feeds my creative soul. I also go to do saunas at Korean and Russian baths, get massages and exercise, and walk in nature with my dog. I’ve also attended ARTS Anonymous, a 12 step program that helps artists overcome blocks to creativity.

    • Hi Genevieve — so glad to hear the About Page template/guide helped you! I know that can be one of the most challenging pages for people to write for their websites, so kudos to you for taking action and getting it done!

      Thanks so much for sharing your ideas for finding creative inspiration, they’re awesome. I love the idea of saunas and massages to release creativity. I find that when I’m super relaxed and feeling blissful, the ideas come easily and without struggle, and a massage can definitely bring that state on. : )

  7. Kimberley,
    Lately I have been focussing on finishing little creative tasks and find the release of energy inspires new ideas and the motivation to execute them. I’m working on getting to the studio at a regular time to further the momentum. I also find paying attention to my intuition helps me to identify creative priorities/ideas. The ones that keep returning are ones to reckon with.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Maggie.

      I totally agree — there’s something very motivating about finishing one creative task that creates inspiration and momentum to move on to new ones. This is true for me too.

      I also agree that paying attention to intuition is so important. Love your observation that the ideas that keep returning are the ones to “reckon with.” : )

  8. Hello Kimberly,
    Great article and fantastic topic! and thank you for inviting me to comment.

    Actually, we should welcome creative blocks. They are not accidents, evil things or lack of talent. They are an intelligent manifestation of the creative process itself, telling us a much needed change, often preceding a breakthrough or change in our creativity.
    They happen when the creative process is trying to reorient creativity in the direction most suited to our heart and soul.

    I always use those times to re-organize my studio (it can get messy!), prepare my canvasses, etc.
    But mainly my long walks in nature with my dogs, watching my wild birds, my yoga and meditation help me reconnect to my inner self almost immediately.

    What also helps me totally is changing subjects. When painting a few landscapes, I have to change to abstracts and then to painting my ravens. Is like I start to miss my other subjects and have more ideas and creative energy to put into them.
    Painting the same subject day after day will block me for sure. It makes me feel like a worker in an assembly line. I admire those that can do it.

    So, is a good idea to change to other creative activities. If you write, do some sketching, collaging, mandalas, etc.
    Just relax into the block, do not resist it, accept it and listen to your inner self.
    In other words, nurture it and welcome it.
    Change is on the way.

    • Hi Cristina,

      Thanks so much for your comment, and I LOVE your take on creative blocks and how to overcome them — it’s *very* good advice for us all. I especially love the idea that creative blocks are not accidents , and that working on creative activities other than our primary one is a great way to get “unblocked,” so to speak.

      Thanks so much for sharing your wise thoughts!

  9. Thank you Kim
    I find it is when I crash and can no longer do the tedious work in front of me that I go back to my art. As such a newbie I am deep in the creating a new website, learning to blog, writing a genuine engaging “about the artist”, etc so I am not doing a good job of finding time to create. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to think about this.
    I know one of the things I need to put back in is a spiritual practice to help me maintain balance. Also putting the scissors in my hand will take over and drive the process. Once the too;s are in my hand I can not help but create. This tend to take over my body for at least 3 hours so maybe I will just do it 2 or 3 times weekly

  10. Kimberly says:

    Hi Lavaun,

    Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

    I know exactly how challenging it is to find time to create outside of other obligations, so I feel your pain! I made a commitment to myself to write every day (in addition to client writing projects) no.matter.what. at the beginning of 2014, and it’s been very rewarding for my creativity and the writing itself. I highly recommend a daily creative practice.

    I agree with you, a daily spiritual practice is important for balance — it certainly is for me, anyway. It helps clear my head and open the creative floodgates. Or trickles, as they sometimes are, but hey, I’ll take it! ; )

  11. Hi Kim

    I’ve really been enjoying your articles. It’s great to read a blog by someone with a definite sense of humor!

    I, like Lavaun (we’re both in the same online course with Cory Huff) have been spending wayyy too much time on the computer the last month, getting my site in shape and learning new things. The other day, I just felt the need to get back to my studio for an internet reprieve. What does it take to get my creative juices flowing? I start pulling out glass from my rather large stock, and looking at the colors and textures of each individual piece. Suddenly, it’ll come to me that ‘this’ glass needs to be a coaster, or that glass would make a great candle holder, or whatever. I call myself a glass addict for a reason, after all!

    Another thing that I find helpful is just taking some time to walk around my property (now that the 3 feet of snow is down to a few inches, and rather crunchy at that!) and look at the size of the buds on my trees, and is that a crocus leaf peeking out of the snow? Nature is one of the best sources around for inspiration. And after this cruel and unusual winter weather, with no color to be found, is over, I am SO looking forward to a colorful spring!

    Thanks again, Kim, for a good read!

    • Kimberly says:

      Thank YOU, Debbie, for your comment, and your terrific ideas for finding creative inspiration and staying in the creative flow. I appreciate you sharing what works for you.

      Oh boy, I know *exactly* how it feels to spend way too much time on the Internet! Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself when I truly can’t step away from the computer for very long is to take a little “mini-break” by reading a magazine or a book for 10-15 minutes – one that has nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m currently working on. Or like yesterday, when I said to myself, “I’m actually going to stop and take a 30 minute break for lunch today,” and three “Sex and the City” re-runs later, I back at work. Whaaaaat?!?! Yep, it’s true. But I really needed the break. ; )

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you get your colorful spring soon!

  12. Hi Kimberly, the nature of my work focus’s on making collages from free newspapers found at a local train station, and I need to take an early walk in order to grab a copy before they all vanish. Walking back to the studio gives me chance to let thoughts fly around in the strangest of ways until I feel something is hitting the target. I then take a biro and write the idea down on my arm, it’s just part of the process, once in the studio I see if the daily images in the newspapers can link into my ideas. This act works for the majority of the time and if nothing complete happens I still have noted the research in my journal, nothing is lost or a waste of time, I even use the voice recorder on my phone to save ideas so I feel it is essential to keep note of all my quirky ideas.

    • Hi Roger,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

      I love your “system” for capturing creative ideas, and your perspective that “nothing is lost or a waste of time.” 🙂

  13. Hi Kimberly…feeling uninspired sucks. I’ve spent my share of hours (months, years) sitting on that bench.

    However, things have turned around for me to the point that I’m unable to stop the flow of ideas. I credit that turn-around to addressing long standing issues that were holding me back in all aspects of my life. Now, when I close my eyes, I’m not assailed by messages of limitation and fear. Instead, I’m awash in a sea of ideas that has no beginning and (knock wood) no end.

    I try to capture the ‘germ’ of these ideas in a simple document. That way, if the time comes that I’m feeling stuck, I can review the ever-growing list of things to create, and generate some Mojo!

    • Hi Heather,

      Kudos to you for addressing the issues that were holding you back & getting your creative mojo flowing! Those old devils, limitation and fear, keep so many of us from doing our creative work in the world, and it’s such a shame. A great book that addresses this topic well is Elizabeth Gilbert’s new release, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” I highly recommend it!

  14. One of my best tips to rekindle that creative spark is to play, experiment, try something different

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment, Linda!

      It’s funny you mention that — I’ve been playing around with an adult coloring book a friend gave me for Christmas lately, and I find coloring so satisfying and soothing — a nice respite, actually, from my usual creative genre of writing.

  15. Hi Kimberley

    I do work for myself, which I describe as the antidote to the technical architectural photography work I do. I publish this work on my blog, where I also write about.
    My blog can be found at
    http://www.rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk/blog

    This helps me no end! And I also use this space to experiment with my landscape work and carry these things into my commercial work.

    Regards

    Rick

    • Kimberly says:

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, I appreciate it.

      I agree – it’s important to do creative work not tied to the client/commercial work we creatives often do. I also do “other” writing outside the work I do for clients, as I find it’s absolutely necessary to be working on my own stuff regularly if I want to feel creatively fulfilled — and sane. 🙂

  16. I can’t say I have it figured out myself. I have several series planned that I want to make but am having trouble making the time. And I believe that is the key. setting aside a little time every day to do it. At the moment I am working on setting up an online store and building a brand with all the blogging and work that goes a long with it. That is taking all my time and hopefully I will get to my creative work (not that this isn’t creative- just in a different way). But I intend to take my own advice and do some every day. I think thats the key, just being consistent.

    • Kimberly says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. 🙂

      I know very well what it’s like to have trouble “making time” for the creative projects I want to work on. And you’re right — when you’re trying to set up a store and build a brand and blog and do all the other things necessary to get traction online, all of which is very time consuming, it’s challenging to make time for the creative work.

      May I suggest a book? You may have already read it (I’m reading it for the 3rd time right now, as a matter of fact) — Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” It talks about many, many of the hurdles and challenges we face day to day as creative people, and offers some good advice/guidance on how to get beyond these hurdles, or at least, a “better,” more constructive way to think of them. Highly recommended.

      Good luck to you!

  17. Take a real vacation and travel to a different environment. Try to disconnect from technology as much as possible. Vacations fundamentally are regenerative thus a source for re-creation.
    Think back to what motivated you when you first started doing what you were passionate about.
    Collaborate with a young creative person on a shared project, they will introduce fresh ways of thinking about the idea you’re both working on.
    Keep a small notebook on you at all times. Ideas are more often than not delicate and ephemeral.
    Select a specific space to do reflection and ideally read books that challenge your range of thought.
    When working on a project for a client there are ideals that come to mind which are beyond the requirements of the job. Take that idea and explore it. Most likely it will generate new ideas.
    It’s been said so often that it’s now a cliche; pursue your passion. There is real power available in your mind and human spirit that will turn on core energy within you mind and generate ideas.
    Take time to focus one hundred percent on listening to music.
    Nature. Get outside and be present in nature and daydream.
    These are a few things I incorporate into my creative process. Wayne Eastep

    • Hi Wayne,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment — and for this AWESOME list of ways to reconnect with one’s creativity. 🙂

  18. Hi, Kimberly ~
    I keep a “clip” file of photos, words, blogs, etc. that interest/inspire me so that when I am in need of inspiration, or just find myself with a bit of extra time, I have a ready source of inspiration.

    I don’t worry too much about being in a creative funk for a day or two (or three) as I’ve learned that that’s part of my creative rhythm. I don’t force it and go on to something else as there’s always plenty to do around the house, knowing that the desire to make something will return very soon.

    Finally, going to the gym and having a good sweat generally seems to help 🙂

    Scott

    • Hi Scott,

      Thanks for stopping by to comment!

      And thanks for your suggestions — I love all of ’em! Especially the idea that being in a creative funk is simply a normal part of the creative rhythm — that’s golden. 🙂

  19. Tom Bisesti says:

    When my creativity is sagging I turn to “Dazed and Confused” a fashion and culture magazine for 20 somethings (among others). It’s so steeped in creativity I get really psyched up and ideas start flowing. Maybe as a writer you could imagine the backstory and character arch of the models and the world they inhabit.
    I also look through the magazine upside down so I don’t see content, only shapes and colors. It’s amazing how many ideas for paintings and compositions I get that way!

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comment. What a great idea to turn the magazine upside down and look at it from an entirely different perspective!

  20. When I hit a funk, I start with YouTube and just keep watching different how to paint or make art in a lot of different styles, not just things close to what I normally do. Before long I get the, “I want to try that” bug and off I am going again.

  21. Hi, I have a daily ritual that grounds my creative and artistic process. I go to my studio to an area which is my meditation sections. I have hot tea with milk and honey, I light a candle or 2 or 3, I ground myself on my mat and my cat Gilmore usually joins me. I pray, have a journal and many decks of spiritual cards. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do. In fact, on the days I don’t feel like going to my studio, I just talk myself into by saying “just 5 minutes” and then I have permission to leave. My daily practice is different from the business I run because its for ME! Not for a client or for someone else. Sometimes my journal has a daily to-do list and sometimes it has dreams and inspirations I didn’t know I had. Eventually, I find myself getting up and walking to art materials or a canvas in process and I work on it. When I am most in the flow, time is lost and hours can go by…. Its a glorious process and I am grateful for it. The big thing is that I never judge myself or my participation. I am just “me”.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment and for sharing your daily ritual around your creative process. I love that you don’t judge yourself or your participation. That’s a trap so many of us fall into, including myself.

      I journal too — A LOT — and that helps me immensely. I use my journal for everything from metabolizing my daily experiences, to jotting down ideas for creative projects, to writing out my daily gratitude list. I don’t think I could live without my journal. 🙂

  22. The most creative inspiration I’ve ever experienced is through keeping a dream diary. Try combining early morning writing with dream recording. Having kept a dream journal in different forms over several years, I can recommend the experience. In fact you may experience the opposite problem (I do), of having too much inspiration. You see, dreams work on symbolic thinking – not logical thinking – and so prime the brain for creativity. Employing metaphor, dream work frees up the brain’s routine neurons, resulting in unexpected associative thinking. Plus, dreams have the added benefit of teaching you more about yourself. If remembering your dreams is something you struggle with, try this book https://www.amazon.com/Little-Course-Dreams-Robert-Bosnak/dp/1570623864 . Includes great techniques for dream recall. Also, please feel welcome to visit my personal dream profile at dreamscloud https://www.dreamscloud.com/en/dreamers/philippelemiere – who offer the benefit of dream sharing.
    Thanks Kimberly, for your great blog articles!
    (Oh, and if you do check out my website, excuse the about page – been meaning to message you.)

    • Hi Phillipe, thanks so much for stopping by to comment. I LOVE the idea of a dream diary. If I’ve had a dream that I think is particularly meaningful, I’ll sometimes write about it in my journal the next morning in order to capture it, because dreams vanish into the vapor if you don’t immediately commit them to memory! 🙂

  23. Enjoying all your articles, Kimberly! Thank you!
    I think inspiration will come when you don’t think about it anymore. It can’t be forced. You are being inspired by every single thing that you do in your day and every event or non event, without necessarily being aware of it. All this will surface at the right moment and you’ll be like heeey, that’s exactly what I was looking for! 🙂 Treat yourself to something nice for all the hard work!

    • Hi Marie, thanks for your comment and your kind words about my articles. I agree — inspiration can’t be forced. Though I used to work in an ad agency that tried to do that very thing, ha ha. I love your idea that things will surface at the right moment, just when you need them!

  24. I think it’s important to do something creative every day, even if its just for 10 minutes. So I try to have one painting going that I can work on a little bit at a time. Something where all the decisions have been made and I can just keep adding paint. This activity gets my mind excited about being creative again and my hands warmed up. Once I get started, the brain kicks in with other cool ideas I should be painting.

    • Kimberly says:

      Hi Paula,

      Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      I love the idea of doing something creative every day, even if just for 10 minutes, as you say. And your idea to have one painting going that you can work on a little bit a a time is brilliant! I do something similar with writing. I find that when I already have a piece of writing started, I can and will work on it, even if I only have 10-15 minutes to devote to it on a given day. It’s when I have nothing started at all that I don’t practice or work on my “other” writing (writing not related to client work) on a daily basis, a bad habit I’m working on breaking. 🙂

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