How to refill your idea bucket and keep creating content through creativity slumps.
I always ignored how to overcome a creativity crisis. So until a few years ago, I abandoned writing many times.
If only I had known to solve the problem, I could have continued. But since those were my first hardships, they immobilized me. And I regret it now.
But I am not the only one.
Content creators have many creativity slumps. No matter how productive you are or how many ideas you have. Eventually, your opinions will seem irrelevant, and you will stop believing in them.
Usually, this happens for two main reasons:
- You do the same thing in the same way for a lot of time, and your mind gets so sick of it that it refuses to cooperate.
- You haven’t been in contact with any creative work for a long time because you focussed too much on production instead of consumption.
In both cases, you need to refill your idea bucket with something fresh that can trigger your curiosity again. This is the only way to overcome your creativity crisis, and here is a helpful guide to do it.
The 5 stages of a creativity crisis
Strange enough, creative crises are similar to the five stages of grief, with that difference that you haven’t lost a person but a part of yourself. So the intensity of the pain is not the same, but the frustration is more similar than you may think.
When a creative crisis starts, you will go through five stages:
1 — The Denial
In the beginning, you will not accept that your ideas don’t trigger your curiosity anymore. Or that you haven’t got any interesting ones in a long time.
So you will deny any possibility that a creative crisis may occur and that you are in danger. But the faster you recognize it, the quicker you will recover.
2 — The Anger
Once you understand you are having a major creative crisis, you start getting angry with yourself for not having any good ideas. So you try all your best to use everything that you can. But every thought seems to lack something special. It is not yours, and it is not unique.
3 — The Stealing
When the anger ends, there is nothing left other than disillusion. And even if you try to reach for help from other people you appreciate, or even steal their ideas, nobody can support you but yourself.
4 — The Distance
Then comes the distance stage, the most important of them all. In this phase, you will abandon your creative routine for a while and start analyzing it from other points of view. You get a glimpse of everything you did wrong but don’t have the mental fortitude to start it over yet.
5 — The Acceptance
And in the end, comes acceptance. You understood your errors, and you don’t blame yourself anymore. Also, you gain trust in your ideas again, and you feel like the negative circle that made them terrible disappeared. So you are ready for the comeback.
How to overcome your creativity crisis
The five stages of creativity grief give you enough time and space to relax and dedicate yourself to other activities besides creating content. And this is the necessary first step you need to take if you want to avoid going through the same experience shortly after your restart.
Take your time and commit to other passions for a few weeks, and then you can think about getting back to work. Before that, however, you should understand the reasons behind your creativity crisis.
Perhaps you worked too much without worrying about your mental health, and now you feel burned out. Or maybe your motivation dropped because you focused too much on one thing and didn’t keep in contact with other creative works. So your brain stopped asking questions. And it also stopped answering them with new ideas.
As I said before, usually the reason behind the crisis hides under two main categories:
- Repetition that leads to creativity draining.
- Lack of creative inputs.
So you need to spot the rotten parts of your routine that pushed you under those conditions. Otherwise, you risk committing the same errors again.
How to solve repetition
If you want to solve repetition, removing the rotten parts is not enough — you have to break down your routine and rebuild another one.
In the last years, many people thought routines were the dawn of a new era, and they could have used them to increase their productivity forever. I had the same belief once. So I built a stable routine I would have never changed again.
But people change, and situations change too. What works for you now may not work in a few weeks or months. So it is more important to build the mental fortitude that allows you to start over instead of pledging to a routine you will never break.
You may have to start from scratch many times. And even after years of searching, you may not find a stable solution. But it is better this way. I cannot even imagine what a monotonous life would be to repeat the same routine for several years in a row.
So if your problem is repetition, you can overcome your creativity crisis by breaking it. For example, you could try new creative routines or mix them up.
When I had my major burnout, boredom creativity worked a lot. Or you could try gamification techniques like using flashcards.
How to solve lack of creative inputs
When you lack creative inputs, you give up too many hobbies in exchange for too much work. And content creators are well-known for this kind of sacrifice because they believe so much in their projects they are willing to renounce everything else.
Perhaps you are strongly committed to your goals, and you want to reach them no matter what. Or maybe you are trying to set up a new record of productivity. No matter the reason, you always give up your free time in exchange for your dreams.
But by doing that, you lose the creative inputs you could have gotten from other activities. And eventually, you will lack original ideas or enter a cycle that repurposes the same ones.
The solution to the absence of creative inputs is to introduce them, of course. And a creative crisis is the perfect fit for this kind of solution because it forces you to experience many different things. Adventures you want to keep having once you start over.
Also, once you feel ready to rebuild a routine, you want to consume content instead of only producing it.
You can read books, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, read articles or even watch videos. And the fun part is that they don’t have to deal with your type of content. On the contrary, it is even better if they are far from your comfort zone. This way, your brain will get some space from working and enjoying other activities. And you will also come up with many new ideas for your content.
Once you overcome your creativity crisis, you may think you succeeded, but your work hasn’t finished yet. You still need to make sure not to fall into the same dangerous routines again.
You need to build a perfect productivity system that allows you to create much content while taking care of your mental and physical condition.
If you meet these three requirements — productivity, new ideas, and health — you can build a content creation routine that lasts longer and doesn’t break your passion.
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Cover photo by Devon Dennis on Unsplash.