As many creative types know, some days you have to dig deep to find your artistic spirit. Whether you are an artist, writer or photographer the key to finding your inner motivation and restoring your creative vibe is to develop good habits. By setting aside just fifteen minutes each day to start that sketch, write that novel or practise your photography; by the end of the week you will have accumulated over two hours of work for your portfolio. But what happens when you get stuck, can't think of a single thing to write and spend hours staring at a blank piece of paper? Or perhaps you need an inspiring challenge to start a new art or photography project? Then you need a few tools guaranteed to help you overcome your artistic block.
1. Keep a notebook/sketchbook with you at all times. Make a habit of observing and listening to the world around you; snippets of conversations in a coffee shop, that cute baby or puppy that is just crying out to be sketched. The artist Adebanji Alade gets his inspiration from travelling the London underground every day. This is a sketch of my niece who just happened to be sitting opposite him one day. You might like to take a look at his facebook page here: #adebanji alade artist
2. Freewrite. This is one for writers primarily but could just as easily work for artists. Get a blank piece of paper in front of you and just write: anything, about any subject, for ten minutes. Forget about grammer, spelling, it all goes out the window, just open your mind and write. This can often lead you to an epiphany regarding that story you've been trying to write. And, if it doesn't, can it develop into a short story of its own? Artists just look around your kitchen or garden, grab a piece of crockery or a potted plant and rough sketch or paint as many times as you can from different angles and different colours. At least one of your doodles will be good enough to recreate later into a bigger project.
3. Create your own space, a haven where you can go to work away from the melee of home. When you are working, try to instil some family rules - allow yourself to work for at least fifteen minutes without interruption, prefereably more. Turn off your mobile for that time too, try to eliminate distractions. It can also help to surround yourself with artefacts that inspire you; books, pictures, art and photography by other people; family photos, anything that brings a smile to your face. If you are unable to have a complete room to yourself, try a creative corner in which you and only you are allowed to work. That way, when you go to pick up that reference book, paintbrush or notebook, you know exactly where it is and will not waste any of your valuable creative time hunting for your tools.
4. Perfect your art by engaging in your community, reading other authors, attending art and photography shows. But also, try genres completely different to your preferred medium. It can be refreshing to see what other people are doing and often gives you inspiration, not to copy obviously, but to try a new technique you've read or seen.
5. Flex your artistic muscles by entering competitions (yes an unashamed self promotion). However, competitions give you a focus, you increase your experience and portfolio and, the entry deadline demands that you sit down and produce something. Plus you never know, you just might win! Click here to see and enter our latest writing and art competitions.
6. Set your own challenges - 500 words a day, a sketch, painting or photograph a day. Set a realistic time limit you can achieve - at first it might only be 7 days but as you get into the habit you can extend your personal challenge to 14 days and then perhaps a whole month or even longer. The key here is to set yourself a task you can achieve, the satisfaction in fulfilling your challenge will motivate you to continue and before long you'll find yourself creating on a daily basis without even thinking about it.
7. Need to increase your personal knowledge? There is a huge choice of classes and workshops available and easily found by searching on the internet, plus joining a class helps you meet like minded people and give you inspiration for future projects. But don't fret, If you haven't time to join a class, there are many excellent quality online courses available now ranging from free videos on Youtube to relatively inexpensive complete video courses. Craftsy (Ad) are a company that offer inexpensive but high quality art and craft classes ranging from knitting to photography, cooking to art. They even do Lightroom and Photoshop classes. I recently purchased a photography class on food styling, as a beginner to photography, I needed an easy to follow class and Craftsy delivered with bells on. Here's one of my first attempts:
Well, I hope you've found some ideas that will help you free up your creative spirit. If you have any tips you'd like to share on how you manage to banish the dreaded blank page, I'd love to hear from you.