5 Creative things to do when you’re not feeling creative

Because it is a form of self-expression, I believe that every act of creation is also an act of self-love. I can't think of anything more basic and beautiful than our human desire to create, to make something out of nothing, or change something old into something new. Whether we're playing music, writing a book, or building the perfect pizza, engaging creatively is like a full-body workout for the soul. In doing so, we honor our time, our instincts, our tender (often unspoken) ideas, and we connect with the most adventurous, evolutionary part of ourselves.

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But what about those times when we feel stuck? Whether it's a lack of time or inspiration, we suddenly realize that we're creatives who aren't actually creating anything - artists who aren't arting, writers who aren't writing, crafters who aren't crafting. We feel the pull to get back into it, to reconnect with our creative selves, but we also feel apprehensive. If it's been a while since we made time for creative pursuits, we may feel anxious and clumsy, like somehow we've forgotten how to do it. At times like this, a Netflix binge can be very tempting.

But wait, I made a list for you. Think of these suggestions as creative warm-ups. They're not hard or scary, and they don't take too much time. They're meant to get your creative juices flowing again - a set of gentle stretches for your imagination.

1. Do a tutorial

Want to break free of a rut? Try something new. I'm constantly amazed at how many talented people package up their expertise and make it available to the rest of us FOR FREE. Want to learn how to line dance? There are tutorials for that!

Want to make robot collages? There's a tutorial for that! How about amazing chocolate covered strawberries, beautiful mail art, or a foolpoof day-in-the-life art journal page? Seriously, there are tutorials for everything now, and you can always draw along with me. 🙂

When I feel stuck in a creative rut, I embrace my beginner self and go looking for a fun tutorial. It's a sure fire, safe way to kickstart my imagination.

2. Make a playlist

I use Spotify, but any music app will work. All you have to do is pick a theme, make it the title of your playlist, and then go grab an album's worth of songs that fit your theme. The more creative you are with your theme, the more fun (and surprisingly rewarding) this activity is.

Here are some playlists I've created this way: Girls In Blue, That One Mood I Get In Sometimes, High School Daze, The Beautiful Quiet.

(Fun tip: I have a playlist called Songs That Find Me, for songs I hear in stores or on commercials that I instantly fall in love with. I use Shazam to find out what they are, then right from there, I can add them to the Spotify playlist. This is technology at its finest.) 🙂

3. Doodle your favorite things

You want to draw, but you don't know what to draw? Doodle your favorite things. Here's a digital doodle I created for this post. After I'd drawn five favorite things, I decided to include my drawing monitor itself (because it is definitely one of my favorite things), and then I added my hand doing the drawing. It was fun and silly, and I felt the excitement of all those creative little neurons firing up unexpectedly.

4. Color something

What I like about coloring your way through stuckness is that it engages your creative self without asking too much. You don’t have to take a class, buy expensive supplies, or create a separate workspace. A coffee table, a coloring book, and some colored pencils are all it takes to get the creative ball rolling.

If you don't have a coloring book, I have lots of free, downloadable coloring pages for you!

And, in case you're interested, I wrote an entire science-backed article for Mind Body Green about the joys of coloring.

5. Go for a walk

It may be true that there is nothing inherently creative about going for a walk, but it is also true that inspiration can come wrapped in an overheard conversation, or in the play of light and shadow on a wooded trail. I often get inspired by the lettering I see on signs, or the tangled way in which tree branches reach forever skyward.

Bonus, going for a walk is good for you!