It’s Sunday night, and I’m staring at my laptop screen with my hands on the keyboard while playing some Bossa Nova music on YouTube. I’ve made a commitment to put out a blog post every week since January 1st, 2018, but tonight I just can’t think of anything to write about.
I ran out of ideas.
We’ve all been there, the state where creativity suddenly becomes the worst enemy. It’s what people called as a writer’s block. But it’s not just writers who find their creativity juice being drained momentarily. In fact, photographers, designers, developers, chefs, teachers… actually all human beings have the same experience. The time you feel stuck, unmotivated, or bored is the time when your creativity becomes stagnant.
Is that true?
According to Oxford Dictionary, the word creativity means “ The use of imagination or original ideas to create something.” In reality, it’s more about seeing things differently, making something, helping people, trying new things, and mixing ideas. And you certainly don’t need to be artsy to call yourself a creative professional.
Running out things to say or do can be frustrating, but waiting for creativity to knock on your door is even more devastating. Instead, here are 5 ways to do to help rejuvenate your inner genius:
Whether you want to nap for 30 minutes or sleep 8 hours till the next morning, sleep is necessary for your body as well as immune system. Without first taking good care of your body, there’s no way you can produce quality work constantly. Besides, sleep puts your brain under rest and forces you to get out of your genius zone physically and mentally, which is another perk to recharge.
You need to rest (well) in order to be productive and creative.
2. Leave your work for a while
I edit every of my post 3 times before I hit the publish button because there’s always something new I want to add or delete whenever I come back to revisit.
When you feel stuck or uninspired, put everything down and leave your desk for a while. Go make something, cook yourself a meal, go exercise, shopping, walk your dog, just do whatever that’s not related to what you were doing. For example, inspiration paid me a sudden visit when I was making teriyaki chicken for dinner.
Idle time is necessary and unavoidable because it’s a time for your brain to explore and dream about something else. And you need to give your brain a chance to do it. As the physicist and author Freeman Dyson once said, “ I think it’s very important to be idle…people who keep themselves busy all the time are generally not creative. So I am not ashamed of being idle.”
3. A paper and a pen (or a smartphone)
You never know when will inspirations come, so always have something to catch the thought and write it down. Ideas are everywhere, but sometimes we are blindfolded by busy tasks that we simply miss the note. I write down things that I found interesting or inspirational on my iPhone before I forgot, and sometimes those ideas become a blog post and sometimes not. But they’re always there whenever I need it.
Everything is a remix. Originality is rare, but creativity is not. A lot of times, new ideas are born from a mixture of existing ideas.
4. Read, watch, listen
Read other people’s work (same industry or not); watch some Ted Talks or interviews; Listen to inspirational podcasts. It’s not about plagiarism or even stealing intellectual properties, but it’s about looking at an issue from different perspectives: Is the glass half empty or half full?
You think I’m the only talking who’s talking about how to replenish creativity? Oh please. But this is what I’ve experienced and is my own take, and surely you have yours, too.
5. The 5 W’s and curiosity
There are hidden rooms for creativity behind the 5 W’s: who (is this for), when (do you need it), where (do you use it), why(is it important), and how (do you make it). Answer those questions and get down to the details. Be curious about assumptions and all the things you do (even dishwashing). There are infinite opportunities to create content in our everyday life.
A work doesn’t always have an end. Sometimes I have an idea that I’m very excited to write about, but after I started writing I feel uninspired, even after walking away for days. In that case, I say good-bye and go work on something else.
And here’s another point: don’t wait for the perfect timing to publish your art. It’s better to put out something rather than waiting for the right moment or creativity to fill the spot. Perfectionism and procrastination mean the same thing if nothing is shipped out.
A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd
And now it is high time for you to hit the publish button!
Originally published at medium.com