There comes a time when even the most gifted people hit a brick wall they can’t seem to break through. It doesn’t matter how much creativity you normally exude or the number of groundbreaking achievements you’ve made in your field, you can hit a roadblock that seem insurmountable.
The salt-in-the-wound part is that there will always be someone better than you, and new talented people will continue to emerge daily. Does this translate to a death sentence for your career? Absolutely not. More often than not, a disconnection between you and your creative muse is responsible for the feeling of doubt in your talents and skills.
Your creative muse can be anyone or anything that triggers your creativity, and you need to consult and reconnect with it as often as possible to get the best out of your creative process.
When do you need to reconnect with your muse? Do you even know what inspires your creative exploits? At the end of this article, you’ll learn how to sustain your creative energy source without going blank in crucial moments.
How To Keep Your Creative Muse Closer
Others say keep your friends close, but we say keep your muse closer. As a creative, the most crucial part of your creation, the ideation phase, is a solitary endeavor. Even when you need a whole team to develop an idea, you must connect to your creative genius to contribute significantly. Check out these easy-to-follow steps for identifying and sustaining your creativity flow.
1. Do nothing, just breathe
Our world is constantly carving stereotypical yardsticks that define successful people. One such yardstick is busyness. Most people are busy bees involved in many things without being productive.
Simon Gottschalk of LiveScience explored the art of doing nothing in one of his articles and noted that unrestricted interaction with too many professional and personal activities and gadgets could overwhelm us physically and mentally.
A solid solution to this vicious cycle is to rest and do nothing. It sounds counterproductive, but even some of the most talented people, including JK Rowling and the Rolling Stone, have shown that boredom can spark creativity. The next time it seems that your creative muse is keeping a distance, try to do nothing, and it will come to you in your silence.
2. Practice intentional gratitude
Another simple way to find or keep your creative muse is to practice gratitude intentionally. It is easy to feel grateful when your music is the summer hit when your documentary or book is winning awards, or your artwork is the favourite of the season.
However, when the lows come, and there’s no inspiration to produce something new, you tend to mostly remember the times you had to sift through and cope with rejection emails until the next good thing comes.
Popular research by Adam Grant and Fransica Gino that was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that a little gratitude could encourage prosocial behaviour. When applied to your creative journey, this gratitude principle can enhance your proactiveness towards your work or craft.
To sustain your creativity, try reflecting on the other parts of your life that are going well. By occasionally focusing your gratitude on things unrelated to your profession, you’ll feel a surge of intrinsic hope that will feed your creative muse.
3. To thine own self be true
Do you have a unique voice that distinguishes your craft? Stick with it instead of imitating others. A disadvantage of having access to unlimited information in this century is the high possibility of constantly mimicking others or getting distracted by factors that are not directly meaningful to your creative journey.
The words “to thine own self be true” might have been spoken by Polonius, a fictional character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but they are evergreen and relatable. It is great to draw inspiration from others, but you must also portray your unique identity.
If you’re bothered that your creative muse has abandoned you, you’re likely not true to the form, identity or techniques that work best for you. Take this as a wake-up call from your muse to mute the distractions and rediscover yourself.
4. Stay aware during mundane activities
Have you ever wondered why you get the best ideas in the bathroom or while doing something unrelated to work? It happens to the most talented creatives and even people who are not artistically inclined. The idea isn’t to monitor each thought that passes through your mind while brushing your teeth or sleeping but to stay aware.
By staying aware while doing things that do not require serious motivation, you will quickly recognise when the muse strikes and quickly take mental notes. According to legend, Archimedes had an ‘aha’ moment about the law of buoyancy while taking a bath. The same tale says that some of Albert Einstein’s genius ideas came to him while staring blankly at his roof. Sometimes, becoming one of the greats is about recognising one of many ideas floating in a still mind, taking mental notes of them at first, and putting down a sketch of them for proper development later.
5. Deviate from your norm
In addition to staying true to your form and identity, you must also understand the importance of trying new things to ignite your dormant creative muse. Deviation, in this case, isn’t synonymous with forgetting who you are but adopting divergent practices to sharpen your creative skills.
You can use deviation to awaken your creative muse by exploring fun and serious activities unrelated to your regular professional activities. This could be learning to play games that boost creativity, fun yet vital life skills such as swimming or a serious endeavour like learning to be a first aid expert.
The exciting part of the deviation technique is that you’ll still find ways to relate these unrelated exercises to your regular work activities. And even if you don’t, you’ll learn something new that can propel you to create again.
6. Maximise your creative processes and tools
Sometimes, we create too many steps in our creative journey, which cause unnecessary mental blocks and burnout. If three key steps help you complete the video content you’re trying to make, don’t outline five steps.
If the tools you have at hand can create that graphics design, use them instead of postponing designing until the new tools you ordered arrive.
7. Revisit your previous masterpieces.
If you’re the type of talented creative who avoids watching the movies they starred in or directed or reading the articles they wrote, this tip is especially for you. Have you ever written a letter to your future self and felt in awe of what you accomplished at the end of that timeline?
Revisiting your previous ‘hit’ projects is similar to the sense of pride and burst of energy you feel when reading a letter to your future self. Your creative muse lies in many chapters of your life, and peeling back to the fantastic layers you’ve forgotten will reintroduce you to your creative side.
The absence of creative energy doesn’t mean a shortage of creativity, and the solution to the lack of creative spark isn’t more activities, aggressive recovery steps or numerous productivity hacks.
Sometimes, all you need to reconnect with your creative muse is a combination of some of the easy steps mentioned above, and you’re back in the game!