April 20, 2011
Another email from a reader landed in my inbox on a subject I think we all feel from time to time.
Hey Kate, I’ve been in a slump lately, feeling overwhelmed and not at my creative best. Wondering do you ever feel this way? Where do you go to get inspired? ~ Shannon
Hey Shannon, yep I go through those ‘dry spells’ too, usually when I’m tired, stretched too thin, and pulled in too many directions. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with images and information, where distraction is inevitable and focus becomes difficult. Also, we all have responsibilities that can keep us from a few hours of creative time. Everyone goes through creative slumps, but no worries. I have a few tricks I use to get inspired, then it’s always back to the drawing board.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to kick start creativity again:
Visit Etsy and/or Big Cartel. I am always amazed at the skills of the artisans in these two forums for handmade goods. An afternoon spent browsing the designs on Etsy or Big Cartel is sure to inspire you, and also introduce you to a few designers that will quickly become favorites.
Pinterest. Are you a Pinhead? I am! Last year, I heard about this site through a few blogs, so I sent my request for an invitation. Months went by and I hadn’t heard from them, and I was completely bitter that my request for an ‘invitation’ wasn’t accepted, and I began to feel inadequate. What’s wrong, why not me? Then I did a search of my inbox. Hello? It was sitting right there.
Pinterest is an image driven virtual pinboard where you can mix and mingle with like minded peeps by following them, and also ‘pin’ your favorite ideas. There are a lot of sites out there that can be time sucks, but this one happens to be a favorite place of mine to spend 5 or 10 minutes a day. Someday, I’ll figure out a way to catalog my favorites on my own site, but for now, Pinterest is the place to be!
Print & Online Magazines. There is so much room inspiration to be found in the galleries of established decorating sites, or on the pages of online magazines. Some of my favorites are Country Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Style at Home, Elle Décor, House and Home, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart, Lonny, Rue and Adore. Visiting these sites also introduces you to the hundreds of brilliant professional interior designers and their portfolios.
Bookstores. Every month or so, I schedule a few hours to head to a bookstore with a coffee in hand, and I make a beeline for the architecture, design, and do-it-yourself departments. Often, I’ll spurge on a new text I’ve been eyeing for awhile to add to my growing library.
Blog Hop Around Your Favorite Niche. Blogs are quickly replacing print magazines in a lot of ways because they offer instant access to unique voices and individual creativity. My favorite way to start my day is to sit down with a cup of coffee and read blogs. I love seeing what everyone else is up to, and I don’t have to wait for the ‘latest issue’ of a print magazine to arrive in my mailbox, I simply open my reader. Reading blogs gives me great ideas, makes me laugh or teaches me things I didn’t know. Blogs are another way to get inspired, be part of a community, and live vicariously in each other’s lives.
Retail Therapy. I don’t mean go out and run up your credit card, I mean grab a ‘To Go’ beverage and take an hour or two to window shop or browse the inside of some of your favorite stores, just to see how other designers are using color, texture and pattern to create interesting vignettes.
Flea Markets + Antique & Craft Fairs + Art Galleries & Museums. Talk about creativity on adrenaline, when you go where the dealers and artists are, you are sure to find inspiration among the collectors and most creative people in our world. Take a few hours on the weekend to browse an antique fair or art gallery, it always works for me!
Take a Class. So often, the key to increasing creativity is to learn something new. Look into the courses offered in your area, whether it’s painting, sculpture, cooking or photography. Educating yourself with basic skills on a subject matter enhances your ability to expand on your innate creativity.
The Great Outdoors. Fresh air and exercise always works wonders for me. Whether it’s hiking nearby, going for a run, exploring a new destination near or far, or driving to the coast to feel the sand between my toes, getting away from the computer and exploring the outdoors is always a place to witness amazing color and texture, and rediscover your creative voice and energy.
Decluttering. Cleaning out a room is a sure way to clear the mind. Purging your home of what is meaningless, and storing away life’s real treasures will give you room to breathe again. Try it! Take on one cluttered space in your home, remove anything that isn’t meaningful or beautiful, and let it be. Clutter is a creativity blocker, so once you get rid of it, the clouds part, and you’ll find your mind is clear again to create.
Don’t Fear Failure. This is my story for this past week! I’ve had a few craft/idea fails, nothing to write about, but each one of them taught me what not to do. I accept that, and move on. I channel my best Scarlett O’Hara and say “Tomorrow is another day”. I’ll just keep creating and something good will come from my efforts eventually!
Take Time Off. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of having to write or create something fabulous every day, but be wary of adopting that attitude, it will stress you out and leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated or inadequate.
Very few artists, designers, and bloggers have the ability to knock it out of the park every single day, so don’t compare yourself and your abilities. Quality is always better than quantity, so take the time off to recharge and replenish your creative abilities in order to produce your best work. Sometimes you just need a nap and a fresh start!
Where do you go when you are in a creative slump and crave inspiration?
What are your favorite sources?