Besides a never-ending supply of good-hair days, I'd love nothing more than to be able to turn my creative energy on and off like a water spout. Big project due? No problem, just turn it on and out spill a few amazing ideas. But what the truly creative masterminds will tell you, is that creativity is a muscle. The more you use it, the easier it is to tap into. And just like a muscle, sometimes it's overworked and needs to take a break, so it can go full-steam again.
I was talking about this recently with Lizzie Darden. Lizzie is an amazingly talented graphic designer and "pun-master" from Florida, who seemed to explode all over the creative-Instagram scene a few months back. See, Lizzie's creative genius is on multiple levels- she takes two different objects that seem to have nothing in common (a taco and an old rotary phone, a cherry pie and an octopus, a frosted cake and a wedge of swiss cheese), combines them into one flawlessly-amazing eye-trip, and then ties it all together with a masterful pun. (Seriously, you must click HERE to see what I mean.) And it's tempting to think someone this creative is just always on. But Lizzie keeps it real- "it's such a tough problem, especially with social media." Yes! That subtle pressure to always be doing more, bigger, and better! So I asked her- how do you deal with creative burnout? When you feel that spark has gone out, how do you get it back? Keep reading for her top tips...
We’ve all been there. You’re having an awesomely productive week, knocking out project after project — then all of a sudden: BAM! You’re struck by the dreaded creative block. An artistic black hole. The evil villain to any creative superhero. An unwelcome guest that just doesn’t get the hint to pack up and leave. But there is good news! There are ways to kick creative block to the curb, so you can be ready the next time it comes a-knockin’!
I always think more clearly after a good workout. I won’t claim to be fluent in any sort of scientific reasoning (9th grade chemistry was a long time ago!) but I have heard facts and tidbits here and there about the increased blood flow to your brain and more dopamine production. So if your mind is feeling sluggish, get up and jump around! Make it fun! It's not like you have to go out and run a full-on marathon, but anything to get your heart pumping and your body sweating is going to be good for your brain and for your creativity.
BRAINSTORM WITH A BUDDY.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own heads that we lose sight of what we’re trying to create and why. Going round and round having mental conversations with yourself can be more frustrating than productive when you’re feeling stuck, so try to get an outside opinion. When I’m feeling puzzled over a food pun, I like to play a word association game with my boyfriend. I’ll ask him something like “what do you think of when you hear the word ‘sushi’” or whatever I’m having a block about. The ideas he comes up with end up being so different from what I had, and the fresh perspective really boosts my creative thinking. Try brainstorming with a friend or family member and you’ll be surprised how often you’ll say “why didn’t I think of that!” Even if the ideas they think up aren’t usable it can lead to a whole new train of thought for you.
SWITCH IT UP.
Creativity comes in so many different forms, and sometimes exploring one outside your comfort zone can be helpful in a creative block. For instance, the work I do is usually digital, so if I’m having a block I like to turn off the computer and play with watercolors. If your forte is drawing, you can try cooking a new recipe, playing an instrument, or taking some abstract photos around the backyard. This way your mind has plenty of room to wander without turning your creative side completely off. It also gives you a new way of looking at things, which can spark up some ideas.
GET SOME R&R.
If you’ve tried everything and still wind up with a blank sheet of paper, don’t stress! Rest your brain! The poor thing has been hard at work trying to churn up ideas that it’s run out of gas. In some creative block situations, the best thing to do is to stop dwelling and just do something totally different. Just relax, grab some brunch with friends, take Mr. Kibbles to the dog park, have a Netflix marathon (like you needed an excuse for that, anyway!) It’s the Shower Principle, a piece of wisdom brought to you by the greatest show ever, 30 Rock: “moments of inspiration occur when the brain is distracted from the problem at hand–for example, when you’re showering”. When your brain is refreshed and not under the pressure of trying to solve a creative problem, that’s when the greatest ideas pop up! So have fun, chill out, and take a notebook with you so those brilliant “shower thoughts” don’t catch you off-guard!
Happy Creating!!- Lizzie
Thanks so much to Lizzie for her tips! I know I personally always benefit from bouncing ideas off of someone else, and when all else fails, going for a long run.
I can't wait to see where Lizzie's magical brain will take her!!
P.s. Stay tuned for some SUPER FUN to come this week on Instagram, from Lizzie and me! ;)