Ever feel completely burned out on your creative endeavors? Most days I’m full of ideas and ready to jump into the process of making the bags I sell in my Etsy shop, sharing my ideas on social media, and helping to celebrate the work of other handmade artists. But some days, the ideas just seem to dry up.
Is it realistic to think that you can be creatively inspired and productive 24-7-365?
The answer, my friends, is a big, resounding no. Of course not. No one is that inspired all of the time. No one’s mojo flows unimpeded all of the time.
In fact, each of our wells run dry from time to time.
So how do we, as creative business owners, go about getting some inspiration back on the days when we just aren’t feeling the love? Here are some of my best approaches gleaned after 8 years of online crafting.
Six Tips To Feel More Inspired (Even When You Just Aren’t)
- Take a break. Honestly, it’s damn hard sometimes running a creative business. We push ourselves incredibly hard, buying hook, line, and sinker into the idea that we need to be hustling all the time to be the ultimate girl boss and to prove to everyone that we are actually making something out of this idea we’ve had to share our creativity with the world. No wonder we burn out just a little from time to time! Feeling completely uninspired and tired? Take a day off, or part of a day off. Even an hour. Go outside, leave your lists and your phone and your shipping scales at home, and just give your brain a breather.
- Can’t do that? Well give your brain something new to look at. I try to have a lot of sources for my brain to draw creative ideas from. Sometimes I browse fabric stores, sometimes I sketch new product ideas, sometimes I get hugely inspired by seeing someone else’s amazing works on Pinterest or Instagram. Whatever your normal source for inspiration is, your assignment for today is to try a different source. Are you an obsessive instagrammer? Stop scrolling through the feeds and go flip through design magazines at the store. Crack open a book if you’re an entirely digital person. Go to the library and dig through art books, quilting books, travel books, whatever appeals to you. Just make sure it’s something different than what you normally do.
- Goals feeling overwhelming? Try the salami approach. I can’t remember where I first heard about the salami approach, but I use it constantly in many aspects of my life. The basic gist is this: if someone were to plunk a whole salami on a plate in front of you and tell you to eat it, it would look unmanageable and pretty unappetizing. But if you cut that salami up into little bite sized pieces, it suddenly looks way more appealing.Get it? My friends, this applies to your business goals too. Trying to reach a certain number of sales in the next six months? Trying to achieve a particular level of income or overhaul your marketing strategy? Big goals can be overwhelming and lead to paralysis. Instead, take one of your broader goals and try to break it down into a series of smaller steps and then just tackle those one by one. What are three steps you can do today to start meeting your goals?
- Go back and look at your own work from the past, but with a fresh eye. I know, I know – those of us with online handmade empires kind of hate to look at our earliest products. The photography isn’t very good. The copy writing might be bad. Maybe those early things didn’t sell and we inactivated them in shame. However, you may be missing an opportunity here.Been at this for a while? Go back and look at your earliest work, with the fresh eye of the creative business person you are now. What was good about your earliest works? What was bad? What would you do differently now? You might be struck by a fresh new approach you never thought of before, see an old product or project that never achieved its potential but still might, or apply what you’ve learned about your art and your customer base in a whole new way.
- Network. Many of us focus all of our online time and efforts on marketing, marketing, marketing. And marketing is important, for sure. But it also pays to spend some of your time networking, whether in person or online, with other creative types just for support. There are a variety of Facebook groups, instagram communities, and pinterest boards focused on providing advice and support to the makers and creatives of the world. If you’re on Etsy, consider joining a team. Find a local crafter’s group where you can talk, share your work, and learn new techniques.
- Try something you haven’t tried before. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, even if your creative business is very successful. If you’ve got a lot of sales, it’s natural to start to focus more and more on your best selling items. If you’re just starting out, you probably spend a good deal of your time focusing on perfecting just a couple of key techniques.Both of these are good and reasonable business strategies. But I’m here to tell you – on those stuck, uninspired, blah kind of days, one of your best defenses is to try something new! Work with a color you haven’t used in ages. Sew something you haven’t made before, or try a new technique you’ve been meaning to try. Take your supplies and go outside, if you always work in your studio, or go to a coffee shop if your craft is portable. Put the items you typically sell aside for the day and write a poem, try some hand lettering, or make a potholder. Anything to break your brain out of the pattern that it’s been in for a while will ultimately lead to fresh ideas.
What else do you find helps when you aren’t feeling so creative? Please drop a note in the comments below – I’d love to hear about it!