For those of us in creative industries or for those of us who like to engage in creative activities in our free time, getting out of classic work mode and into a creative mode can be a challenge. Rather than getting frustrated with yourself and wasting valuable time, you can engage in certain go-to activities to get your mind into a creative space. I’ve discussed a wide range of activities with fellow writers, and these seem to be the most common ones.
- Keep a “Found Journal.” I love this exercise, which I learned in an undergrad English class. Just like Found Art, a Found Journal is built of the ordinary, everyday things you collect. These can be song lyrics, cut out pictures or words from a magazine or newspaper, pictures you take, quotes you like, quotes from conversations you overhear — whatever interests you. While you can easily do this online with something like Pinterest, it’s really fun to keep a hard copy. As you’re physically writing out words or placing photos on the page, you can feel the urge to create bubbling up. There’s nothing like putting together something by hand to remind you what you’re capable of creating.
- Go for a walk/run/drive. A lot of writers say certain physical activities help them, and it’s different depending on the person and his or her style. Some feel more inspired or clear after taking their dog for a walk. Some feel better after a trip to the gym, while others feel inspired only when they’re doing an outdoor activity. Find out what it is that calms and relaxes you, and either observe or let your mind wander. Keep a notebook nearby if you need to jot down ideas.
- Read/Watch/View work that inspires you. Is there are writer, filmmaker, musician, or artist you love? Reach for the work of those you admire, and study the work closely. Remind yourself what it is you love about that person’s work, and you’ll find yourself coming up with your own ideas.
- Go to a public place and observe. This is another activity I love to do. Sitting on the train, at a bar, or in a coffee shop can be great source of inspiration. Some people like doing this so they can overhear conversations, while others like to have some noise to drown out — it helps them better hear their own thoughts. This really depends on your style — do you like to work quietly in a room alone, or with a little background noise? And maybe if you are usually one way, and you’re totally stuck, try doing the opposite just to mix things up.
You can do these activities on a few times a week, or try one or two in a day. As a writer, I’ve found that these work for me. It does work best, however, when I keep up with one or more of them on a regular basis. When your mind is trained to observe, then you’re constantly drawing ideas and creative inspiration from the world around you. Give it a try and see if it becomes easier to slip into a creative mode.