The other day, I got this question over on tumblr:
Here’s my reply:
First: know that EVERY CREATIVE PERSON, no matter how old, how talented, how experienced, goes through this. Try not to think of it as a creative drought, but remember that there is always a natural ebb and flow to creativity.
Second: Understand that creativity doesn’t play nice with tension and stress. It’s a tricky puzzle, because most of us feel good when we’re creative, so we try to BE creative in order to de-stress. Then we put ourselves on the spot and end up feeling worse. Try to find ways that work for you to de-stress that DON’T require being creative. Reading a book, taking a hot bath/shower, going for a walk, getting some good sleep, having a good cry, whatever it is is that works for you.
Next, IMMERSE yourself in other people’s work. If you’re a painter, visit an art gallery. If you’re a baker, look at recipes. If you’re a photographer, browse other photographers galleries. If you’re a writer, read. If you draw comics, go read some of your old favorites. You get the idea. Don’t go in looking for specific ideas or inspiration, but be inspired by the art itself — or the skill of the craft, or the satisfaction of the end-product. Tumblr (and the Internets at large) are a veritable buffet of inspiration. The goal is not to look for ideas of “what to do/make” but to fill up your “OMG I HAVE TO DRAW RIGHT THIS SECOND OR I WILL CUT SOMEONE” meter. Sometimes, that’s enough.
AND/OR: Spend time doing a more monotonous part of your art or craft. A lot of folks I know get inspired by cleaning out their art/craft supplies. Spend time cleaning all of your brushes. Fold and staple a stack of mini-comics. Sort through and categorize all the recipes you’ve been bookmarking. The idea here is that you are doing something kind of NEAR your art/craft/hobby (bonus: it’s productive) and keeping your hands busy while letting your brain go in “auto-pilot” mode. Sometimes, this is the key to major break-throughs.
AND/OR: Change it up! New supplies, a new project, a new technique, a new craft/hobby altogether… Even just drawing outside instead of at a desk can be a major game-changer. Try something you’ve never done before — even if you’re no good at it. Even BETTER if you’re no good at it. Learning/experiencing something brand new can be a be a real creativity charger. If you normally draw people, try focusing on fashion or buildings. If you typically knit, try crochet or needlecraft. Yes, I am absolutely encouraging you to “cheat on” your art. :P The goal here is to come back to your art with a new perspective.
When in doubt, try to push through and make SOMETHING. If you hate it, finish it anyway and move on to the next one. Share or don’t share. But keep making.
Keep at it and remind yourself that the “flow” will come back. It will.
Got burning questions? You know what to do.