College can be pretty good at stunting the creativity that’s often necessary for academic success and personal leisure. Regardless of our major, the constant battle we face to crank out papers on papers and prepare for endless tests is sometimes enough to completely drain any creative juices from our bodies! But lucky for us, there are a few things we can do to get in touch with or regain our “artistic” side.
FOR THE GIRL WITH THE CREATIVE BLOCK
If you’re the creative type but are having trouble with your usual inventive streak, the first step toward overcoming it is to understand the reason for the block. According to designer Cameron Chapman in Self-Motivating through Creative Blocks, common causes include lack of rest, stress, working too hard, and fear. If these seem familiar, try the solutions below to reestablish your creative equilibrium:
Take a break
When we’re burnt out from assignments and studying, it’s good to stop every now and then and focus our attention on something else. Try doing something mundane! Distancing yourself from a project can be extremely helpful in reducing the stress of being over-worked, and engaging in a mundane task allows your mind to wander and makes more way for new ideas to emerge. Nothing like a good dish-washing or dust bunny-destroying to realize the perfect bridge to your latest song or the next subject for your sketchbook.
Take a nap
Sometimes we just need a little sleep. It may be a given, but our creative process becomes less productive and efficient when we’re not energized. For a more effortless flow of creativity, adequate rest is a must. (Note: Ever heard of Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs? Yeah, the problem could simply be the result of basic physiological needs not being met! Get enough rest, food, and remember to breathe. If that isn’t achieved, how can you expect to move up the scale to aesthetic needs? Love that optimism, but…probably not gonna happen.)
Take a walk
Clearing your head by changing settings can work wonders. Walk somewhere and let your mind relax; like mundane activities, the trip will let your thoughts wander. Your obstacle might be knocked down with the inspiration a stroll around the block or through the park can provide.
Getting bored with routine isn’t a new phenomenon. With that said, it’s not unheard of to be sick of using the same paintbrushes and notebooks over and over again to turn our creative visions into realities. Try switching things up. Trade your pens for markers. Trade lined pages for blank ones. Change is healthy and might be the key to getting you moving again.
Though this is the last thing we want to hear, sometimes we’ve just gotta push through. If you’re in the middle of a project, chances are you’ll eventually get through the problem spot if you continue trudging along–it just may take time. And if you’ve put off a project you want to work on because you’re afraid of the outcome, stop procrastinating and just do it. Remember what Ray Bradbury said about creativity: “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
FOR THE GIRL WITH THE CREATIVE URGE
Even if your creative streak is on point, there’s no disadvantage to finding new ways to maintain and improve it! Sometimes a new method or technique is that little push we need to take our ideas to the next level. Try these tips and watch your creativity soar:
Start an inspiration file
Did you recently see a flick that really motivated you? Pin up the movie ticket on a bulletin board above your desk. Did you hear a song that seriously pumped you up? Jot down the lyrics in a journal. Start a file for all things inspiring–certain photographs, quotes, magazine clippings, flowers, anything that makes you your best self–and have it to reference whenever you want. Use this special paraphernalia to really light you up and remind you why you love being creative in the first place.
Find a comfort spot
Have a space that’s “yours,” whether it’s the cozy leather chair at your favorite coffee shop or the nook in the library that no one knows about. Having this personal quiet place free from distraction can help you get in the zone and let your imagination run free. Occasional solitude is a good thing; sometimes you’re the only company you need.
Write your stream of consciousness
At the beginning of the creative process for a new project, sometimes it’s helpful to jump in without any real goal other than to engage the activity head on. The exercise of writing your stream of consciousness accomplishes that goal and involves just what it suggests: documenting anything and everything that comes to mind. This way, you’ll have already gotten into the groove when you’re ready to create from scratch! Also, write. Don’t type. When you scribble something down on paper in your handwriting that oozes personality, your ideas have a greater chance of evolving. Let them live! Don’t give them the opportunity to vanish with one click on a computer.
Listen to music
It’s easy to get stuck in the left side of our brain when using verbal and organizational skills every day. Though creativity doesn’t engage only its right side, listening to music provides the perfect way to get that balance we need. If that’s not enough to tickle your fancy, music encourages dancing! And what better way to unleash creative energy?
Go on an artist’s date
Get together with other creatives and pick their brains! Fewer things are more exciting to an artist than meeting others who are just as passionate about their work as you are about your own. Network in the artistic community and gain insight by learning about different projects. You could also go do something fun by yourself, without influence from anyone else. Sometimes only you know how to best feed your inner child and keep that element of “play” alive.
Image courtesy of Kelly Marcelo