It’s a new year, and that means new opportunities to revitalise your career and creative goals. A new year always brings with it a sense of expectation and excitement. It can also bring a feeling of pressure. The pressure to set goals and plan out your next twelve months. It’s fair to say that 2020 wasn’t quite the year any of us expected, and so far, 2021 isn’t looking much different. In this post, I’m going to be looking at six simple ways to spark creativity.
As one of the main driving factors in my work life, creativity is so important. Even if you’re not feeling particularly inspired by the start of a new year yet, you might find some of these ideas helpful. Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on sparking creativity. Also, I’d love to hear some of your favourite ways to ignite your creative fires after the fizzling out at the end of last year.
If you’re a writer, you may find some of the resources available in my creative writing posts useful, so don’t forget to check those out too. So, how do you spark creativity when you’re feeling in a slump? Let’s find out.
Six simple ways to spark creativity
There’s no denying it; we’re all living through a time of collective trauma right now. 2020 (and for the foreseeable future) saw the coronavirus crisis dominate our lives. It’s still doing so in many countries, the UK being currently one of the worst-affected by the virus. World events are also pretty chaotic right at the moment, to say the least. With all this upheaval and unrest going on, it’s been incredibly hard to stay motivated.
And yet, as we’ve all learned to adjust to our new, predominantly virtual lives, we’ve shown resilience. Working from home is now the norm for many of us and for our children too. Homeschooling is now a huge part of our lives, and although it’s been tough, we’ve risen to the challenge as best we can. We should all cut ourselves a huge amount of slack, what with everything going on.
However, there are things we can do to prevent ourselves from burning out. That’s right, work-from-home burnout is a thing we should also be aware of. With so many restrictions on what we can and can’t do now, how do we remain creative, healthy and on top of our wellbeing? Here are my six simple ways to spark creativity.
During the first lockdown, video game culture was embraced by much greater swathes of the population than ever before. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for example, arguably played a huge role in uniting millions who were struggling with isolation. Video games are an extension of the human need for play and play-based learning.
For me, gaming is one of the most creative mediums out there. As a transmedia format, it goes above and beyond the standard scope of ‘something to entertain yourself with when you’re bored’. Entire universes and fandoms exist through gaming, and exploring these can be a great way to spark your own creativity. Whether it’s creating fanfiction, game art or even learning how to write your own game narratives, gaming can provide a wealth of creative outlets.
A bit of an obvious one, but ultimately timeless. Reading is another one of the best ways to re-ignite your own creativity. Use some of this locked-down time to read into new worlds, educate yourself through autobiography or even pick up a textbook. Reading to help yourself learn a new skill can be really creatively refreshing.
Read around a topic that interests you and allow your brain to reconnect with its natural love of language. You may find that you’re feeling more relaxed and that those creative ideas flow from you more naturally as a result.
Limiting screen time
I’m notoriously bad at doing this. However, with everything that’s going on in the world, it can be very easy to fall foul of ‘doomscrolling’. This is the art of browsing social media for hours, becoming engrossed in the ongoing doom and gloom of the world. It’s easily done but contributes hugely to my feelings of creative drought. It’s hard to become inspired when I’m bombarded with imagery about how messy the world around me is.
By limiting screen time (and maybe reading a book or playing a game instead), I’m allowing my brain to recharge and refuel. I’m also giving my eyes a rest! Try and work out a sensible limit for how much time you’ll spend on social media and at your computer.
Do something physical
Obviously, now we’re all indoors this may seem much more difficult. However, taking up something like yoga or pilates can really help to keep your physical well-being in check as well as giving your brain much-needed endorphins.
One of the best things about keeping physically active is the effect that it has on our minds. With a calmer, clearer head you’ll feel focused and re-energised, so trying to form a routine of physical movement each day can really help you stay in touch with your creative side.
Using any kind of notebook, take some time each day to journal your thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t have to be anything as structured as a bullet journal, although this may be helpful. Instead, I’m talking about using a page a day to doodle, sketch, jot down ideas and make mind maps. Don’t worry if nothing concrete comes to you at first.
A journal is an ideas dump, a place to pour out anything and everything that may be useful to you in future. And if not, the drawing and doodling side of journalling is very therapeutic!
By taking the time to really look after yourself, you’re giving your mind a chance to become revitalised and relaxed. Spend some time thinking of ways you can improve your self-care. Perhaps you could go to bed a bit earlier and improve your quality of sleep?
Maybe have an extra-long soak in the bath and use a really nice moisturiser to help you feel relaxed. Get up earlier than you normally do and do some yoga. Brush your hair and dress in comfortable, warm clothes. Allow yourself to feel cared for and you’ll take more care of your creative efforts as a result.
How do you kickstart creativity?
Some of these ideas might seem obvious. However, I’ve found that during the last two lockdowns, I let myself slide quite easily and as a result, became creatively blocked. This year, I’m not making resolutions or goal-setting. What I am going to focus on, is allowing myself to remain creatively focused. And, to do that, I’ll need stimuli and strategies.
I’m going to be prioritising my self-care and journalling to try and help me do this. One of my main aims this year is to develop my skills as a writer and narrative designer. So it’s crucial I plan for how to actually do that, especially given that I’ll be spending most of my time in lockdown! What would be your suggestions for ways to spark creativity? Let me know in the comments below.