As we creep into month 8 of isolation, collective creativity and enthusiasm to innovate are running at an all-time low. I know firsthand that nothing is more frustrating than writer's block or feeling stuck creatively. That’s why I've compiled five of my best tips and tricks that help me cope with a lack of creativity some days, and cultivate creativity on others.

Spend Time in Nature

I get most of my creative energy from being in nature. Whenever I’m frustrated and can’t seem to get inspired, I take a long walk or head up north. I always leave the North Shore feeling more centered, calm, and collected than when I went up. My best advice is to go into nature without intentions. You can’t go on a walk expecting to come up with something brilliant. It’s best to just let your mind wander and see what it comes up with under no pressure. When I do this, I find those are often my best ideas.

Capitalize on Energy Even if it Isn’t Planned

I often experience a burst of energy at inconvenient times. For me, on my most creative/productive/inspired days I either wake up very early with a bunch of energy and ideas, or I get this buzz of creativity right before bed. Although it can be inconvenient to have your great idea at 11 p.m., I have found that it is best to capitalize on that energy at the moment. If you try to sideline it, push it off, or try to pick it up later, it is never as good. I usually feel deflated trying to replicate that energy when it isn’t genuine. A great example of how to practice this is the Instagram feed from Kate Arends at @witanddelight_. Kate is a Minnesotan who remodels homes. Currently she is doing a complete remodel while living in the home in the Twin Cities She is very vulnerable about her creative process and fields design questions with her followers. She is also the mom of two young kids, so she demonstrates very well how to capitalize on energy and time when you have it.

Enjoy the Fruits of Other People's Creativity

Sometimes in creative industries there’s this notion that somehow, someone else doing something cool takes value away from what you’re trying to do. I actively combat competitive thinking by taking time to appreciate other people's creativity. I set aside time when I am feeling frustrated with my own ability to produce novel concepts to explore my friend’s pages and see what they are up to. For example, I feel like I am in a bit of a creative rut right now. But my friend Gabriella (@munaycreations) is actively producing a portrait series of BIPOC women. It’s amazing and so cool to see her work. Every time I check her page to see her progress and admire her creations, I leave feeling inspired. Watching other people be creative is sometimes all you need to get inspired yourself.
 
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Get Out of Your Lived Environment

We all get bored with our lives, and during this pandemic it can very easily feel like we are living the same day over and over again. With the absence of travel and new stimulating environments, it can be hard to transport yourself into new mindsets. That’s why, when I find myself feeling uninspired by my current creative situation, I dig into a new book or try and find the Instagram account of a creator from another country. Books are great because they help me mentally get into a new culture or space. Listening to new narratives often helps me think of new designs or themes. Following creatives from other countries stimulates my creativity by observing work that comes from a different background and perspective. Seeing new patterns, color combinations or different ways to do the same thing is both educational and inspiring. Here are a few of the Instagram accounts I’m following now: @fannyekstrand - A Swedish designer who makes her own clothing and repurposes vintage clothes. I make some of my own clothes and she gives me amazing shape/pattern ideas. @apartmenttherapy - A great feed for ideas on different decor styles, especially for those working with small spaces. This account really helps me integrate color into my home. Each post is marked with the location and date it was taken so there is a lot of variety in content. @_minjukim_ - A fashion designer from Korea that I love, you may have seen her on Next in Fashion, the Netflix TV show. She uses amazing patterns and rich textiles. I love her color palette and her aesthetic inspires me a lot. @marloesdevee - A Dutch illustrator who uses a super calm color palette. Her simplistic yet elegant drawings are comforting to me. She is very open about her creative process as well, which is cool to witness. @nomibis - An antique dealer from the South of France who I love following. She uses a super muted color palette but I love the ideas she gives me for integrating vintage family pieces into new spaces.

Be OK with Lacking Creativity. Shame Won’t Make it Return More Quickly.

Finally, and most importantly, do not shame yourself for a lack of production or feeling uninspired. Not creating for a while doesn’t mean you’ll never create again. Making yourself feel guilty will only induce shame and make things worse. I take comfort in knowing that my most productive season might be someone else’s least productive and vice versa. While you may be idle, someone somewhere is producing their best work and that’s the awesome part about art. Know that creativity is like the tide, it rises and falls with your energy level but it always comes back.   Photo by Thought Catalog