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In our world of contradiction, tension, struggle, and confusion, staying inspired and coming up with new ideas can be extremely

In our world of contradiction, tension, struggle, and confusion, staying inspired and coming up with new ideas can be extremely difficult—maddening even. Though it’s a special concern for those of us who must be creative for a living, but also for anyone who wants to leave their creative imprint on this world.

Whether you’re a writer, designer, dancer, chef, musician, comedian, or amateur mime, finding and maintaining inspiration can feel about as easy as trying not to blink or swallow while someone boldly points and laughs.

Here are some ways you might consider jolting yourself from the humdrum downward spiral of panic, dread, or downright apathy that can sometimes arise when your creative juices are running low!

5 steps to improving your creativity:

1. Practice

Counter-intuitive though it may seem, when it comes to the concept of being creative, practice makes for (close to) perfect.

Creativity is actually a skill you have hone. The act of creating entices your mind to, well, create more often.

Fact: even the most fabulously creative trailblazers have to spend way more energy working at being creative than gliding along on their natural talents.

Challenge yourself to put in the time and effort it takes to create every day, in whatever way works for you. Every morning or night, for an hour, or two, or whatever you’ve got to give.

2. Daydream

woman-lost-thought-daydreaing

Some of us like to continually flog ourselves for not living up to our own hyper-critical standards. But have you ever had a superior whose very presence made you less competent at what you were doing, out of sheer nervousness?

Be kind and compassionate with yourself, and above all, have faith in your abilities! Show yourself you mean it by allowing yourself the time you need to zone out.

Daydreaming has actually been shown to lead to creative problem-solving. When your mind is free to roam, it can access memory, emotion, and valuable stored knowledge. Should you come up with any ideas while zoning out, jot them down.

A few ways to daydream with panache: walking, running, taking a bath, or going crazy on a giant trampoline.

3. Switch your surroundings

Have you ever tried a new and unusual workspace, like your car? It can do wonders to feel like you’re going somewhere new rather than sitting still (although do be sure the car is parked).

If you usually work in a library, try a busy cafe. You might spend a sunny day working in a charming park.

In addition to switching it up, your main workspace should be a place you like spending time— where the only thing you do is create. Whether in a work or home office, make it comfortable, choose the right colors, and if clutter agitates you, keep it clutter-free.

4. Reach out

Friends-around-a-table

While creative people often feel they are playing a profoundly solo sport, the fact is that anti-social tendencies have their limit.

Others who have undergone similar creative struggles and come out on the other side intact understand just how hard it can be. Don’t undervalue the personal connections you make as a source of real learning.

If you’re not part of a community of creative thinkers, email people that inspire you and ask them out for coffee. You might be surprised by how many people would be happy to give an hour to a budding creative.

5. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Creating remarkable and compelling ideas others can connect with can only be achieved with some measure of confidence.

It can be scary to stray wildly from what those who’ve come before you have deemed suitable, but sometimes being reckless is the only way your mind knows how to feel inspired, and if that’s the case, by all means, go with it and quit trying to fit into someone else’s preconceived notions. 

The late genius musician Prince is the perfect example. He broke musical industry norms, gender norms, and lifestyle norms, challenging virtually every “expert” that crossed his path. And he became a worldwide sensation, in large part because of his risk-taking.

Do what you have to do to stay true, don’t doubt yourself, and the rest should fall into place!