As creators, we are constantly on the search for new ideas to add into our backlog of content. Our idea list grows with new thoughts, passions, snippets, and quotes to give us things to work with.
That list can sometimes be overwhelming, or maybe even dwindling during the struggle to keep fresh ideas coming. As the new year approaches, we can often get flustered surrounding the habits and resolutions that other creators have. Here are some strategies to build into your new year to help keep the creativity spark within you.
1. Meditate, even if just for a minute
Mindfulness and meditation can be extremely calming. In a nonstop world of information, we often need a second to step back and take a breath. Be with yourself, even if just for a minute, and let your thoughts settle. Once you’ve released some of that stress, organize your thoughts and let the creative ideas come to the surface.
2. Learn from your environment
Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the flickering light over your head, in the conversations overheard on the train, and even somewhere in that sandwich you’re eating. Keep your mind open throughout the day and let them create stories in your head. Find the little pleasures or displeasures and let them inspire your next piece.
3. Consume as much as you can
Be an information gatherer. Read in your niche. Read outside your niche. Read genres you don’t typically pick up. View content from other creators like you. View content from mediums you wouldn’t typically look at. Consume information and use it to create your own.
4. Trust your gut with ideas
Write down every idea that crosses your mind — good and bad. Even the ideas that you might look at later and cringe… save it all. The more you collect, the better you’ll be able to curate or combine into something great. Maybe that “bad” idea is just waiting for its complement to come along. Trust your gut — if you thought it, you can create it with some hard work and patience.
5. Emulate your favorite creators
As Austin Kleon’s book suggests, Steal Like an Artist. Don’t copy and paste, but rather use your information gathering to emulate the artists and creators you love. Copying one person is plagiarism, but collecting your favorite things from many different artists and making your own art? That’s how you create something unique to you.
6. Ask questions of new ideas
Surface ideas are great, but what new take can you give to your audience? Dig deeper into your thought or idea. Ask questions to break it into different pieces. Build on that content to form new opinions or ideas. Find new solutions to a problem we didn’t know we had.
7. Exercise or move around
Take the time for your own health. We can’t give to our art if we don’t first have the energy to give to ourselves. A healthy mind and body will help clear your thoughts and get you moving in the right direction with your creations.
8. Accept imperfection as a human
Ideas are raw, fresh from our thoughts and undeveloped. Our first attempt at molding ideas into something will not be perfect, but there is beauty in imperfection. Nothing will ever be flawless, so learning to accept that can reduce your stress and give you the freedom to create without that threat.
9. Constraints breed creativity
Test your limits and see what you can create with limited resources. Cut down to using only two different paint colors. Try to create without one of your tools. Write something without using a letter, or limiting yourself to a certain number of words. Careful constraints can help you search for new solutions to create your work.
10. Declutter your workspace
If you constantly dread your workspace, change it. Declutter, rearrange, or fill your workspace with things that nurture your creativity. Do you love writing in nature? Fill your writing space with plants and flowers that spark your favorite creative environment. Make a space that you look forward to going in to.
11. Challenge yourself outside your comfort zone
Is there an idea or medium you’ve been afraid to pursue? Think about what might be holding you back — fear of failure, imperfection, lack of skill, etc. — and say screw it. Get out of your comfort zone and try to create something new. Write what scares you. Draw something that has haunted you. Try to cross stitch that pattern that is daunting.
12. Try a new process
A new process can mean anything. If you typically produce your work in the evening, try to create something in the morning. Instead of working at your desk, find a table outside or set up a workstation in a different location. Write in a new coffee shop. Switch up your process and see what new ideas you can develop.
13. Change your medium
Create with a new medium. If you typically paint, try to draw or write something. Instead of typing out your next book, try to write it by hand. Test out your creativity using a different medium than normal. Participating in other creative outlets can help you develop strategies you can apply back to your original outlet.
14. Head into nature
A piggyback off of mindfulness and exercise, getting out into the fresh air can help you clear your mind. Find a local trail or park to visit and use the change of scenery to fuel your inspiration. Head to a garden, state park, or local zoo to get your mind unstuck and back to creative thinking.
15. Repurpose old work
Is there an old piece of work you aren’t quite thrilled with? Or a piece that did really well, but you’ve discovered new ways to explain it? It’s okay for your viewpoint to change with more information. Find some of your old ideas and repurpose them into something new.
16. Be all in
When faced with a bunch of different ideas to choose from, we can get overwhelmed. We start one idea, but as soon as things get a little difficult, we give up and look for a new idea to work on. Take a look at your list and commit to one. Commitment means seeing that to completion. Be all in with that idea and follow through.
17. Step away from your work
Sometimes we need a break, or a moment away from our work. Taking a step back to clear your mind can actually benefit your work more than just trying to work through it. A healthy and refreshed mind can bring new ideas and methods to the table to help you get through that piece.
18. Collaborate on a piece
Two minds are better than one. Bringing a new person into your creative space not only can inspire them, but you can collaborate and create something together. Each person brings a different perspective, and bouncing ideas off each other can help you come up with something great.
19. Celebrate your wins
Creating and finding new ideas is not an easy process, and cultivating them into something workable is even harder. So when you do come up with successes, celebrate them! It’s okay to be proud of your work, and to celebrate your accomplishments. Use them as fuel for your next work.
20. Have fun
Creativity flows a lot more fluidly when we enjoy what we are working on. Remember to have fun and relax. Creativity sparks from the mind and the heart, so continue to love what you do and pursue creations that make you happy.
Don’t forget to give yourself breaks throughout the creative process. We can sometimes get swept away with new ideas and creations, but it’s important to take a step back every once in a while so we can be refreshed and have a clear mind. Take some time to try new things this year and follow ideas you never thought possible. Who knows, maybe one day people will want to emulate you.