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10 (free or cheap) things to do when you've run out of inspiration

You’re a maker.

You make stuff out of nothing. You take a blank canvaswhether your canvas is a wall, an empty page, a crystal, a greeting card, a shell of a website, or even a motorcycle, and see something that no one else does.

Opportunity.

That opportunity, to create something that wasn’t there before, is why you’re here. It’s why you get up in the morning. It’s what lights your fire. It’s what makes you wear pants. A creative opportunity is exciting. Maybe it gives you goosebumps. Maybe your eyeballs fall right out of your head.

Some days, the opportunity might scare the pee right out of you. Or the opportunity starts to feel like a drag, like molasses. Painful and slow.

When I look at my blank canvas of choice, usually a blank Google Doc, sometimes I have literally no words.

Sometimes this happens if I’ve “spent” too many words in the past few hours, days, or weeks. Since leaving my corporate job to write full time, this has been one of my biggest eye-opening moments.

I do my best work when I’m writing from a full wellmy creative well.

I first heard this term from the creativity goddess Julia Cameron.

Makers need a full creative well.

You can only get water from a full well in the ground.

With a full creative well, creating feels more natural, easier, and a lot more fun. With a full well, you can hardly wait to get to work on your project. With an abundant well, you’ll have more to give, more to offer.

I’ve started to take this creative well filling business pretty seriously lately. Here are some easy ways to keep your well filled:

 

  1. Work when you’re sharp. Maybe this is 6 am for you, or 10 pm. Mondays might be better for you than Thursdays. Whatever your witching hours of creativity are, try to limit your work to those hours. For me, that means only scheduling client calls on certain days of the week and at certain hours. It also means stepping away from work on the weekend.

  2. Have a (sacred) space. I’m not talking about an altar or meditation (nap) room, but a space that is just yours, where you can focus and enjoy your time. If you don’t have a room to make your stuff, a corner of the table, or a comfy chair, or in the garage might be your sacred space.

  3. Leave your sacred space. This sounds contradictory, but if you’re taking in the same sights and sounds every day, your mind might get a little dull. Try working in another space in your home, at another office, or anywhere but your usual workspace. I recently decided to dedicate at least one entire day a week to working somewhere else. That might be a new coffee shop (or bar).

  4. Put the screen away. As a copywriter, I spend an embarrassing number of hours staring at a screen between my Mac and my phone. Grabbing a magazine or a book, or even just staring at the wall are ways to give your brain a break.

  5. Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. When was the last time you just sat still to do some thinking? You don’t need to meditate or read or listen to a podcast. Schedule 15 minutes (you can spare that, right?) to do absolutely nothing but think.

  6. Travel. If you can take work on the road, scheduling a little work-cation or some sightseeing will open your mind to new ideas and experiences.

  7. Walk around the block. Stuck on a problem? Walk around the block.

  8. Visit a museum. Check your local guides for days that resident’s get in for free. Or visit a museum you wouldn’t normally be drawn to. Maybe it’s a cultural museum, art, science, or butterfly museum.

  9. Go outside your industry. This has me listening to SaaS podcasts and reading about the wedding industry. These are totally unrelated to what I do on a day-to-day basis. When you’re listening to podcasts, TED talks, or reading books from other industries, look for things and ideas you can apply in your own work.

  10. Do something uncomfortable. This could be going to a party where the hosts get awkward about their wine, but you get a great idea for a story. Or going to a concert by a band you wouldn’t normally listen to. Maybe just eating dinner at the table (or one that seats 100) without a screen feels uncomfortable, do it anyway.


 

Fill the well, my friends.