Just in case you want to make 2019 the year you finally start that creative passion project (not sure what kind to do? I’ve got you covered with a handy list of passion project ideas here!), you might already thinking about how you’ll actually stay creative enough all year to sustain it.
And that’s a pretty valid thing to worry about. After all, creativity seems like such a fleeting thing – when are we creative? when are we not creative? can you force creativity?
I stand by my position that everyone in their own right is their own kind of unicorn. So in case you need a little help finding ways to stay creative this year – be it for sustaining a blog or a podcast or a YouTube channel or whatever else – here are 10 cool ideas to try.
Nothing gets me feeling more creative after attending a workshop or seminar. If it’s a skills-related one (say, a watercolor or crocheting workshop), having just learned the skills or brushing up on them are surefire ways to help anyone kickstart that creative habit.
Even the workshops you wouldn’t expect to spark some idea of creativity in you can have that surprising effect. Spending a day at, say, an economics or business summit can inspire you with new ideas and concepts you otherwise hadn’t thought of before.
And because creativity has been defined as the use of the imagination to create new, original ideas, then workshops – the very venue for learning new ideas! – can help you stay creative all year.
How to implement this idea: Keep an eye out for any kind of workshops, courses, or conferences that interest you. Or do a Google search (Facebook’s Events search is handy too). If you need extra accountability to make sure you actually go, pre-pay for your slots so you feel forced to attend and not let that money go to waste.
Consume content – a lot of content
I grew up reading YA books, so it should come as no surprise that I’d want to write one myself. Consuming the media that we consume is a great way to inspire ourselves to create something similar.
Aside from the inspiration we get from reading books, listening to podcasts, watching videos and films, there’s also the technical aspect of it. We become familiar with the medium that we’re always consuming, so we can figure out how to get started (or how to keep going).
An avid blog-reader might find starting a blog a breeze because they’re already familiar with blog post formats and best blogging practices, brought about by years of following their favorite bloggers.
There’s also something about consuming content that we don’t normally consume, too. Someone who’s already started a YouTube channel, for example, might be in a creative slump. Doing the same style of editing every time, using the same effects… It can get boring.
So one way this small filmmaker can stay creative on their channel is by watching videos in a niche completely different from theirs, or following YouTubers that have opinions differing from their own.
How to implement this idea: Allot some time every day to read, watch, or listen to your favorite media. When you’re feeling particularly uninspired, consume something you never thought you’d consume.
(When I’m struggling to stay creative on my blog, I like to pick up a fiction book. Somehow reading about something that’s not related to what I want to write just…motivates me to write. The human brain is pretty funny that way!)
This works in a couple ways: going out when you’re in a creative slump, or actually getting creative outdoors.
The first one personally applies to me a lot. Back when I was still a senior at university, I had what I personally called a “gap semester,” where one whole semester I had no classes to take.
During this “gap semester,” I did a lot of work on the side for my freelance writing, but as you might guess, being home all the time did lead to some cabin fever. So to nip the creative slump in the bud, I’d go out to work, either in a café or a library.
And another thing I’ve noticed in my quest to stay creative every day is that actually being outdoors fosters creativity. I’ve recently started a habit of going up to our condo’s roof deck to do some blog writing (hello from 20 floors up!), and I’ve been more productive when I’m writing under the clouds or stars.
How to implement this idea: Shake up your schedule! If you work from home, schedule some time outdoors or anywhere outside your usual work spot. If you work in a cubicle in an office, maybe take walks outside the building during your breaks. (Pro-tip: try visiting a coffee shop to stay productive, here’s the science behind it!)
Hey, whether your poison is water, coffee, or alcohol, sometimes you just need a drink in hand to stay creative and spur that inner muse.
In fact, iconic Danish thinker and writer Kierkegaard was known to drink a lot of coffee, and the legend goes he took it with equally a ton of sugar. He even wrote, “At any rate, I prize coffee.”
On the other hand, I once had classmates at university who told me they always prepared for a big creative pitch with beer in hand. They claimed all their best work came from their tipsy (sometimes drunken) states.
There’ve even been studies linking hydration to brain stimulation, so there might be more to this stay-creative tip than mere placebo. 😉
How to implement this idea: When you’re gearing up to do some creative work, keep water or coffee or even alcohol handy. Stay hydrated!
Have a “creative space”
Do you know the reason why we’re so productive or inspired when we’re working somewhere new? It’s actually because our brains are stimulated by novelty.
But it’s also true that our brains make associations a lot. So it could be equally helpful to set a specific spot, maybe at home or at your favorite libraries or cafés, where your brain immediately associates as a “creative space.”
How to implement this idea: Pick your own “creative space” and stick to it! Do your best to only do your most creative work in this space, so your brain always is on “stay creative” mode whenever you’re there.
Work early in the morning. Or late at night.
Some of my best writing was the product of a late-night word vomit.
But the opposite has been proven equally true, where I can come up with great work in a nearly Zen-like state early in the morning.
I think this is because, while I most prefer to work mornings (because I have the most energy and inspiration from my invisible muses), sometimes my evenings are the only time I have to write, so that’s really the only chance I have. But creativity works like a muscle, so night-writing is a skill I have developed through the years.
Want to see more of the best-proven productivity tips? Read this post to find 18 effective productivity techniques.
How to implement this idea: Figure out what works best for you! Try doing your creative work early in the morning or late at night and see which you enjoy more. Also notice when you have your best ideas and when you genuinely enjoy working on that passion project.
Socialize, even when you don’t feel like it
When you’re stuck in a creative rut, there’s almost no better way to get out of it other than meeting up with some friends and just being with people.
You can take their experiences and stories and make them your own. You can look at shops and stores. Heck, you can even watch a movie together and get inspiration from that.
I’ve found that socializing and being with people gives me the chance to see things from a fresh perspective. And isn’t seeing things in a new light what creativity is all about?
How to implement this idea: Make frequent coffee dates with people. Hang out in book clubs, or join group classes. And when you’re invited to a big event, gladly accept.
Set some deadlines
When you want to stay creative every day, deadlines are probably not the first thing that come to mind. But deadlines act as a great motivator to get things done, even creative work.
It’s helpful to know how you respond best to deadlines. Maybe you respond best when someone gives you the deadline and checks up on you as an accountability partner. Or maybe you have no problems sticking to the deadlines you set for yourself.
Either way, setting – and sticking – to deadlines is one way to make sure you’re getting that work done. Flex those creative muscles, and remember that motivation isn’t like a lightning bolt. Instead, it’s the build-up of momentum.
How to implement this idea: Whenever you decide to take on a creative project, be it a book or new blog post or painting series, set a deadline! If you need extra help, ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner.
Schedule time to do…nothing
You know how people always get the best ideas when they’re in the shower? Or when they’re ironing clothes or sitting on the toilet or doing something completely random?
Turns out these restful, or even enjoyable, activities are just what our brain needs to enhance our creativity. Doing nothing of significant importance with no deadlines, no pressure can be a great environment for our brains.
Who knew doing nothing was a great way to help you stay creative?
How to implement this idea: Don’t fret so much! Quit over-scheduling and over-exerting yourself. The more you try to force your muses to come, the more you might feel stressed out and uninspired. Which leads me to my last tip…
Ditch the goal of perfection
Ah, perfection. Every creative soul’s motivation to succeed. But equally their reason to quit or fail.
There are a few other ways you can frame this tip. You might have heard some of them: “Progress, not perfection.” “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” How I personally refer to this?
Progress is progress is progress.
You won’t get that draft right the first time. You won’t master that new technique in the first hour. Cut yourself some slack, but never quit.
Stay creative this 2019, my friends!
Your turn: what are some ways you stay creative yourself? Any other tips or insights you can offer?