Harvesting Creativity & Overcoming Setbacks

Creativity can be anything from an art piece, to a written work, to a new business idea. What ties the concept together, in all cases, is that it is an outward translation of something within ourselves. We have thoughts and images running through our heads as well as feelings and emotions reverberating through our bodies. Creativity happens when we connect and utilize our talents to communicate what’s inside, breathing it into existence. Of course, that can be easier said than done.

Tapping into your creativity will not always come without a struggle. Everyone hits ups and downs, the slumps happen, and they can be frustrating. All of a sudden, doubt pours in, you are out of ideas, you’re unhappy with the outcome of your work, or you simply don’t know how to improve.

When handled well, a blockage in creativity can ultimately push you somewhere new. Keep in mind, the momentary frustration is often what propels you forward. Below are tips to overcome the inevitable setbacks. Give them a try, and I promise you’ll find a spark for that inspired flame inside of you. It will be that magical little thing we all call: an idea.

how to spur creativity

Talk to someone you admire creatively: Let me give a personal example here. A couple weeks ago, I was feeling very stagnant with my photography. I was having trouble making my photos look how I wanted them to, and it not only frustrated me, but lessened the enthusiasm I had to work on photography. Subsequently, I got into conversation with a friend and I told her about what I was feeling and explained the overall effects I was trying to achieve. Her suggestion came so easily and sounded so matter of factly, that it was shocking. Sometimes, you get so stuck in your own mind that you don’t see the obvious alternatives out there. The new perspective opened a whole new door of experimentation. It set me down a new path, brought back my enthusiasm, and pulled me out of the creative slump.

If you don’t have a friend or mentor you can talk to, try meeting someone new. Join a pottery class, travel, go out with a friend you only kind of know, or hell, try reaching out to someone you admire online. The conversation you have doesn’t entirely matter. It can be directly about the skill you’re working on, or just life. Talking to other people spurs new thoughts and ideas. All it takes is that tiny whisper to get the brain going again.

how to spur creativity

Save what inspires you & search through it: We’re all familiar with Pinterest. It’s a great tool for cataloging your inspiration online, but don’t forget to do some of the same thing in the real world. Save the things you come across that inspire you. Make a folder for tears, posters, and fliers. Keep a shelf of magazines and books that fill your mind with ideas. Display artwork. Keep collections.

Personally, I love beautiful independent magazines. When I’m feeling uninspired, I open Darling or a Kinfolk and flip through. The articles are short, so I can read several at once. Like caffeine, the influx of ideas is a jolt to my mind. It gets things jogging.

When you have a moment of creative frustration, go back and look through your own inspirations. What moved you once, will most likely move you again.

how to spur creativity

Put pen to paper: Pen on paper is one of the best ways to get your ideas flowing. What comes out is raw and unedited, providing a great starting point for whatever you’re doing. You can try your hand at consistent journaling, or use the medium for brainstorming exercises.

Journaling itself is a great way to stay in touch with life. Even when you think you have nothing to say, just start by writing down the day’s occurrences. It will almost inevitably flow into something more idea or emotion driven. Since being creative really comes back to translating what is inside, this constant practice can serve as the key to inspiration.

You can also try little exercises to get the brain flowing. I love these recommendations here, but give a google search for “creativity exercises” and you’ll find a whole lot more. I actually had a lot of fun searching around and trying my hand at the different games I found. Not the worst thing to have to do when you’re feeling down and challenged.

how to spur creativity

Get over your insecurity: Sometimes we’re scared to create because we think our work won’t be good enough. The reality is that sometimes you have to mess up in order to learn and get an outcome that you’re happy with. Get over thinking that your skills aren’t good enough, that you idea isn’t original enough, or that you’ll never be as good as your peer. In the end, creativity is about expressing yourself. Don’t be so scared that you don’t let it out. Mess up over and over again. Don’t stop creating, and don’t let your ego get in the way.

how to spur creativity

Go for a walk (preferably in nature): It has been proven, that moderate exercise increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognitive function. If you’re feeling stuck on a project, it might be worth it to go for a long walk. Bring along your phone, a camera, or a writing pad, so that you can document strokes of inspiration that you have along the way.

how to spur creativity

Be Patient: Remember that creativity will come,  you just have to be patient. Like there are weeks that you’re more tired than others, there are weeks that you’re more creative. Don’t get frustrated or fed up with yourself. Take all of the steps above, give the creative process time to happen.

What do you do when you’re feeling creatively stumped? Let us know in the comments!

Check out Naomi’s blog Numie Abbot.

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9 years ago

I have been lacking inspiration for the next post on my blog but this post helped me remember why I do what I do, because I love it !!


Hypnotica Vintage
9 years ago

Thank you for such a great post.
I find that my best ideas happen when I’m gardening or on a long run- it’s funny, sometimes you have to take a break from working to move forward.

9 years ago

Great post! The balance of starting a new job and trying to do my art has thrown me off a little, got to get back in the zone.


9 years ago

a few things that really help me get my creativity flowing are to:
*letting go of my perfectionism – let it be okay for things to be rough and ungainly in the process
* letting go of my ego and how things are “supposed to look” especially ‘how it will look’ other people!
* a hike in the forest in the woods
* an “artist date” (from the book “the Artist Way” – going to places that inspire you, whatever that might be antique shops, nurseries, your favorite clothing store – I find FP shops incredibly inspiring
* free flowing writing (also from “the Artist Way”)- when I get stuck – i just write and it comes
* reading the Artist Way – such a wonderful, spiritual & inspiring book on creativity
* keeping examples of things that inspire me – i especially love a breathtaking photo, a worn antique
* random objects to inspire you – it’s so much fun to take one item – especially an unexpected item – and see what you can do with it – i use ‘random’ words or words chosen by others to write a story, but you can pick an object that you wouldn’t normally photograph and take a picture of it, or draw/paint/collage it in ways different from your usual method…..

The Weaver Of Words…..give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale

9 years ago

Beautiful photography in this post.

– Christina http://www.cityloveee.blogspot.com

9 years ago

I definitely use Pinterest to gather a lot of images that inspire me so that I can go back and look at them when I’m feeling particularly uninspired. However, I really enjoy regularly reading other personal style blogs – that’s what keeps me motivated and it also gives me a sense of community.

xoxo Sara

9 years ago

Yesss – I am almost always paralyzed by my insecurity/fear of imperfection. Especially in blogging! Internet lurkers are mean & cut-throat. But knowing my creations are changing the way women perceive an issue, or become aware they aren’t alone in a feeling and can identify is enough to push me over the fear bump and get crackin’.

Warm Regards,

9 years ago

I’m lucky enough to work in a creative field- tv writing- but it also comes with a lot of drawbacks. First, everyone, from the talent to managers and viewers are constantly giving you both constructive and destructive criticism. Second, I have to put a creative twist on mundane topics several times a day. It’s very easy to lose motivation or hard to find inspiration. These ideas will help me keep going. Don’t let the haters get you down!

9 years ago

This is a great post! I usually take a walk or go through Instagram/Tumblr for inspiration :)


9 years ago

A great post, i think this perfectly illustrates some of the struggles of every creative! I find talking to other people with an artistic mind really helps me develop ideas and thrive from the excitement of theres x

9 years ago

Great post. I don’t know any creative person–even professional–who doesn’t go through slumps and needs an inspirational boost. Also–love the photo of the building that looks almost bloodstained.

9 years ago

I love all these suggestions and the ones others have posted. I agree that stepping back and “sleeping on” a project that is hard to resolve helps a lot. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing, we fail to look at the piece we are working on as a whole.

9 years ago

this is exactly what i needed to read right now. thank you.

9 years ago

THANKS…much needed I have been working on a dissertation for over a year trying to make it PERFECT. I only have a page and a half. I need to just WRITE! (and stay away from wine prior to writing :0/)

Great article!

9 years ago

This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. And I have to agree that going on a walk is always the best first step for me!

9 years ago

This is such a well written post with so many wonderful, realistic approaches. I love to write and blog but sometimes I run out of creative juices or feel a little insecure about it all. I love the idea of simply keeping a journal. Getting back to the good old pen and paper!!! We usually find inspiration where we least expect it!

Thank you,

7 years ago

Just reading this article and it has been a blessing to find! Thanks for always providing daily inspirations for me!