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8 Strategies to Ignite Your Creative Mojo

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Even when you're not working, you're working. Sound familiar?

We've become so accustomed to being "on" all the time. Brainstorming, learning, planning, problem-solving, hustling, posting, networking, cracking codes, whatever. It is relentless.

But when our brains are not engaged in a "useful" way, we feel a bit guilty.

It's understandable. As a freelancer, if I'm not "on-it" continuously, then I won't have a pipeline of work to rely on.

It. Is. Exhausting. And for someone who needs to keep coming up with new perspectives and fresh ideas, it's also pretty counterproductive. I find that if I don't allow my conscious brain to have down-time, the end result is that it keeps running loops around the same thoughts and concepts like a lab rat looking for the illusive cheese.

So, what to do when the creative tank is at dangerously low levels? How can you get your motor running at premium capacity again?

What gets your engine going, hmmm?

Firstly, I'm going to ditch the bad Austin Powers impression. Then, I'm going to list some of the methods I use to reboot the old noggin.

1. Step away from the screen

There is no getting away from them! Whether it's doing the banking, correspondence, research, networking or actual work, I'm on the screen. It's no accident that as soon as I leave the laptop and phone behind, solutions start popping in my head.

Neurologically speaking, boredom has an important function in brain health. When we're not "doing", the brain falls back into a default mode, not only giving it a much needed rest, but also allowing ideas to germinate and flourish.

2. Interact with humans

Tempted to cancel that get-together with a friend because you have too much work on? Don't!

Go along and chat, catch-up, laugh, cry, discuss world affairs or banter meaninglessly. Repeat. We are social beings. We need face-to-face social interaction for our mood and mental well-being.

And not only is it good manners to talk to your friends about things that interest them, it can also also throw up the odd gem in terms of re-filling the ideas bank. Details from random subjects may be just the nudge you need to solve a problem of your own or may even trigger a whole new project!

3. Motion

We all know about the physical, emotional and mental benefits of exercise. But there is definitely something about just getting up and moving around in a different location that makes the brain switch gears and allows you to see the same issues from a different perspective.

So whether you dance, go for a long walk, ride a bike, jog–whatever floats your boat–just do it.

4. Cleaning

Before I had a dish-washer, I can't tell you how many times I had a major break-through while scouring pots and pans. Any cleaning will do, take your pick. I'm reasonably sure there is a constant demand at your house for some form of light or vigorous cleaning. Oh, and sorting stuff definitely counts too.

It's basically a chewy toy for your brain.

Distract it from the problem you're mentally struggling with and, like magic, a solution will appear. I guarantee it will work. If not, you will have a marvellously clean house.

There are no downsides.

5. Listening to music

This is one of my favourites, actually. Lots of people rely on music to get them in the zone; some even go to the trouble of compiling a sound track for the project they're working on. Personally, I cannot work when any kind of music with lyrics is playing, so it's usually something unobtrusive and instrumental that I listen to, depending on the type of the project.

I'm working on a fairly serious period drama at the moment and have been listening to Shamanic healing music to write by, with lots of chimes and Tibetan singing bowls.

It has been marvellous in terms of focussing my attention. Try it!

6. Cross Pollination

Read, watch, go the theatre or an art gallery. Feed your creative soul via other mediums!

Getting outside of your creative comfort zone is a great way to add something fresh to projects and can inspire your work in surprising ways.

7. Mind maps

I'm using this term in the broadest possible sense! Whether you want to go old school with paper and pen, a white board or online program, mind maps are a great way to break out of linear-based thinking modes and add depth to your project.

I'm most probably preaching to the converted here, but creating a pinterest board for a project is not simply a displacement activity! It can be really helpful in understanding a project from a visual point of view.

8. Get in water

Look. I'm not saying that because you're a writer/creative/techie you inherently have poor personal hygiene. But there is something kind of magical and inspirational about being in water.

I could go on and on metaphorically about amniotic sacks and the birth canal, but I won't. I'll just say that for me personally, water works.

What about you? How do you get your creative mojo back?

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