Having courage means moving forward with something despite the presence of fear that comes with being vulnerable, and fully embracing and knowing that there is a real risk to yourself.
Brené Brown, a vulnerability researcher, said “vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.” You’re vulnerable because you put yourself out there in everything you do.
Finding the courage to keep moving forward, to stay in that creative, innovative and changing mindset can feel daunting. When you find yourself slipping into that creative slump:
1. Take Risks
Don’t be afraid to do things differently. Get out of your comfort zone. Use a different medium. Push yourself to do something you’ve never done before—pushing your boundaries. Use different software or tools. Step away from the computer; sketch, pick up a pencil and drawing pad, use chalk or paint, maybe even grab some crayons or do some woodwork. Just experiment.
Hand lettering by Sean McCabe
Talk to people outside of your industry and try experimenting with something they do.
2. Find Inspiration
Find inspiration in blogs, other people’s work, different styles of work, magazines and even other forms of expression (photography, dance, poetry, music, architecture, business)—different from what you do. Go places that you don’t usually frequent or places you’ve never gone.
Do something different. Cook a meal. Go to a museum. Go hiking. Attend a play, concert, or show.
Look to leaders in your industry or see what emerging designers are doing to make an impact and grow. Check out industry leaders in different cultures and different countries and how their approach works for them.
Teach a class. Sharing your knowledge with those who are excited to learn from you and all of your knowledge can be fuel for your own inspiration.
Take a class doing something you’ve never done before, whether it’s a class doing a specific craft, exercise class, cooking class, music class, business class, HTML, etc. Regardless, find something that will give you a spark or push you harder.
3. Do a Lot of Projects
Do lots of projects; even if you don’t get paid for them. Assign yourself projects or do some for others. Design something you haven’t designed before (drop cap, logo, typography, photo book, wallpapers, website, business card, magazine cover, enter a design contest, etc.)–anything that would challenge your creative process.
Photo by Tyssul Patel
4. Finish Your Projects
Set a deadline for yourself. Leaving projects unfinished, can lead to feeling unsatisfied. Finishing your project gives a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. The entire process, from inception to fruition, can be incredibly enlightening.
5. Take Time Off
Taking time off is probably most important of these. Taking time off has been shown to increase physical and mental well-being, can improve your personal and social development, and increase productivity and focus.
Photo by Patrick Chin
Take that well deserved time off—no computers, no email, no checking in, no work related anything and dare we say, no phone! Unplug and unwind so that you can come back energized, refocussed and revitalized. Indulge in your family and friends. Take that opportunity to have new experiences and gain new perspective.
Whether you’ve been working for 5 years or 15 years, getting into that creative slump happens. What you do is meaningful and makes an impact, so get inspired and stay inspired!