Having a creative spirit doesn’t mean you never struggle with creative fatigue. Sooner or later nearly every Creative hits a dry season when inspiration is sparse or stale, and energy dries up. Here are 10 ways to recharge – and it may surprise you what they are!
The Creative Spirit Thrill
Having a creative spirit can be so exhilarating, can’t it?
The thrill of a fresh idea.
The satisfaction of knowing you really nailed a project…
You know what I’m talking about – it’s a great feeling, isn’t it?
The Rest of the Story
You may know the other side of that coin too –
the dry, uninspired seasons when ideas just won’t click.
A finished project that somehow just didn’t make your cut.
Followed by another short-of-your-best effort.
It can be discouraging.
Because those nasty thoughts creep in:
Have I lost it?
Will I ever be able to really nail a project again?
I know these feelings all too well because I have – and still – experience them.
And I’ve learned some things because of those dry, uninspired seasons:
when they come, it’s time for some recharging of my creative spirit – and that doesn’t mean pushing my efforts a little harder or forcing things regardless of the lack of really “feeling it” (which is so tempting to do).
It means I actually Put. It. Down!
Clear my head.
I won’t even begin to suggest I have this mastered. Learning to manage the dry seasons takes time, and practice, and patience. And I’m still a student.
But what I have learned is that when I do take the break (whether intentionally or it’s forced on my stubborn self), it never fails to work!
Here are 10 ways I’ve found to recharge my creative spirit that I’m suggesting you try too when you’re in a dip – and they’re probably not what you’d expect!
Have you ever really thought about just how amazing it is to be able to read?
We so often take it for granted – I know I do – but can you imagine what a day of life would be like if you couldn’t read?
There isn’t a single day that I don’t read at least hundreds of words, often thousands. I imagine you might just be the same.
Reading has the power to inform, influence, entertain, encourage, and even transport us.
So why not use that power to give our creative spirits rest?
Getting lost in a great book is a wonderful way to let your mind wander over all kinds of beautiful ideas and mental images. If you aren’t in the habit of reading for pleasure, give it a try the next time your creativity takes a dive.
And be sure to stir the pot. If you normally read fiction, try a well-written non-fiction work on a topic that fascinates you. If you’re more into instructional books, try a small volume of poetry or classical literature as a change of pace.
Reading is so great because it keeps your mind engaged, yet allows you to relax your fatigued creative spirit.
2. Get Outside
I’m no expert on the topic, but I’m pretty sure we spend a whole lot more time indoors these days than we did just a decade or two ago. Certainly more than a generation ago.
Electronic devices are now our constant companions and many of our jobs happen inside buildings. We’re missing a lot of the fresh air we nourished ourselves with when we were kids.
And we’re missing a lot of the things that only happen in the fresh air:
- a brisk walk through the park
- planting, tending and harvesting a fresh garden
- observing the activity of birds, squirrels, and all kinds of wildlife
- watching the sun rise or set
Getting outdoors for a while and experiencing what can only be enjoyed outdoors puts us in touch with the “real” world, not just the man-made and insulated “worlds” we’ve made for ourselves.
It’s refreshing and inspiring – and works wonders for a stale creative spirit.
Music is powerful!
It can soothe a fussy baby, comfort a troubled soul, ignite a party, soften a hard heart, and stir and move us all.
Just imagine what a world without it would be like – pretty flat and dull.
Music can thrill our souls, shape our mood, and fire our imaginations. It’s at the heart of nearly any gathering of people and works its charm on us whether we admit it or not.
It’s also a perfect break for the exhausted creative spirit. It can calm, soothe, inspire, encourage, and recharge in a powerfully unique way. Listen to your favorites, explore something new, or create and visit specific playlists you build.
Don’t worry so much about finding inspiration though. Just enjoy the creative expression of music for the sheer joy of it and let it work through your exhausted spirit on its own.
4. Change Your Surroundings
Staleness is a creativity killer.
The same old, same old is…the same old!
I’m always still surprised by how inspiring it is to do something – sometimes even a very small change – to my normal surroundings. Maybe I just rearrange the furniture. Maybe a fresh coat of paint.
Last week I spent about 15 minutes cleaning out and reorganizing the tea and coffee cabinet. I may be weird this way, but cleaning is a sure-fire inspiration starter for me. It always pumps up my creative energy and I’ve had some of my best ideas while cleaning in and around the house.
Changing surroundings can be small like that, or bigger. Change where you hang out when you leave home. Eat at a picnic table, visit a new coffee shop, find a new park to explore, take a different route – or discover one… there are lots of ways to switch up our environment and ditch the stale monotony of sameness.
5. Take a Break from Your Norm
Just like familiar surroundings, familiar routines can lull our creativity into a stagnant stupor.
If you can mindlessly do task after task – so much so that you totally lose track of what you’ve even done (how do I know this?), then you’re probably in a very stale routine.
Shake it up, sister! (my apologies to the few brothers who visit here) 🙂
Ditch the dull routine and infuse your day with a burst of fresh activity.
What have you been putting off that you really want to do?
We’re such creatures of habit, and good habits are wonderful, don’t misunderstand.
But colorless routine after colorless routine is a sure way to extinguish those creative sparks.
Ditch the calendar for a day and shake it up!
6. Try Something New
New food, music, entertainment, trips, shopping, essential oils, tea or coffee…what have you thought about trying one day but just haven’t gotten around to yet?
Here’s your ticket!
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 13:12 – “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
First, I’ll admit that’s an unusual “favorite Bible verse”. But it’s so good!
And it’s so true – of course!
I love it because I think of it when I hit my worst times of discouragement and it soothes my soul.
It really does breathe fresh life into the spirit to have a rightfully fulfilled desire.
So stop deferring your hope!
7. Draw – or At Least Try
I’ll admit that drawing is a creative pursuit and I told you at the beginning that you’d probably be surprised because these suggestions aren’t really “creative” activities at all.
This one rides the curb because for some people (I’m one of them) drawing doesn’t come naturally or easy – or beautifully. To say I’m being creative when I put pencil to paper would be a crazy stretch.
But I learned something interesting many years ago – I’m a pretty good copy-cat.
The year I discovered nature journals as part of our kids’ homeschooling science studies, was the same year I discovered that copying the real thing is a whole lot easier than pulling it out of my head.
I found nature journaling relaxing, inspiring, and highly instructional because when you “draw” the flower or bug or blade of grass in front of your eyes, you see a whole lot more than if you just take a quick glance – or snap a picture.
It fired my imagination in ways I didn’t even realize were there. I discovered all kinds of color combinations, shades of color, how light makes all the difference, and details became a whole fascinating study of their own.
It doesn’t have to be beautiful – and it doesn’t even have to be shared with anyone at all. Sketching is a fascinating way to rest your creative spirit and just copy what’s already been done.
8. Sleep to Recharge Your Creative Spirit
Some people don’t have any trouble with sleeping.
I’m not one of them.
Oh, I can hit the pillow and be out COLD in less than 5 minutes (a totally different person than when my kids were babies. I’d wake at the drop of a pin.)
It isn’t the sleeping that I battle.
It’s the “getting around to it” that snags me.
I’ve been accused more than once of burning the candle at both ends.
I’m a do-er and I don’t like to “put my toys down and go to bed”.
But I also know quite well how dulling to the creative spirit an exhausted mind and body can be.
We were made to work – and rest.
Not to work and work and work and work…
Sometimes the best vacation is a long night’s sleep or a cozy afternoon nap – often.
9. Do Something for Others
This isn’t a piece of “what goes around comes around” advice.
It isn’t meant to buy you a return favor.
It’s designed to once again operate in the way we were created to operate.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve felt creatively dull, emotionally spent, or physically drained, chose to be something for someone else instead of dwelling on myself, and ended up in much better shape than when I began.
We’re social beings and although we have different levels of tolerance for social interaction, we all need each other. Being willing to serve others through volunteering, helping in a specific way, surprising someone with a gift or gesture, or just showing random acts of kindness to a total stranger – can all make a far-reaching impact in someone’s life.
And even though it shouldn’t be a sole motivation, a true and genuine heart of serving another human being has a way of freeing our own hearts from the dusty landscape of focusing only on ourselves, giving our creative spirits a chance to rest and recharge.
10. Review Old Photos
The digital age is truly amazing.
Just this week I discovered (with the zealous help of a couple of my younger kids) that there’s a feature within the photo app on my iPhone that sets a collection of photos taken on a single day to music.
I never knew that!
I got totally lost in sweet memories as I watched old photos scroll my screen, set to heart-tugging music. And all this time I didn’t even know I could do that…
If you’re anything like me, you probably have thousands of photos on your phone.
What in the world do we plan to do with all of these images, anyway???
Gone are the days when every snap of the lens means you’ll pay to have that image processed – or throw the whole roll of film away – which you’ve already paid for.
We still do have albums and albums (and albums!), however, of the “old fashioned” prints, shot on a camera, taken to a photo shop, and picked up a few days later when we got the first look at those images we took last week – or last month.
I go through them sometimes and my mind (and heart) are pulled into another world.
I have no idea why looking at old pictures is refreshing to the creative spirit, but it is. Maybe it’s just the mental diversion that stirs up all the memories that in turn stirs up all the emotions…
Why We Need To Recharge our Creative Spirits
A while back I was reminded of something about my computer that I really already knew – but just forgot.
I kept having weird glitches and finally hit a point that landed me on the phone with Apple support.
It actually started as a website issue, which turned into a device issue, which turned into a user issue.
The problem was ME!
Instead of shutting down my computer at the end of each day, I simply closed it.
If I had a dozen browser tabs open, I’d leave them open so I could pick back up the next day.
Whenever I got a low battery notification, I’d grab the cable, plug it in, and recharge – all while still going.
The kind man on the other end of the phone gently reminded me that even computers need to “rest” and reset to work at their best performance level.
I knew that.
I just didn’t act like I knew it.
Of course, it’s much more needful for us than for computers. If we’re constantly going, going, going, and never taking time to rest, refresh, and reset, glitches start showing up and one effect is a dull creative spirit.
I learned a lot more than just how to manage my laptop that day. I learned how important it is to manage myself too!
Recharge YOUR Creative Spirit
So the next time your creative spirit is not as sharp as you know it can be, take a break!
Try some of these ideas and give yourself time to refresh so that you can return to your creative passions with even more energy and enthusiasm than you had before.