Creativity is not reserved solely for those who make art, music or other traditional creative pursuits. Entrepreneurs rely upon creativity in almost every aspect of their work, whether you realize it or not. Sometimes, creativity is a boundless fountain, available to you with no effort at all. But other times, you can't drum up a creative thought for anything. What do you do when you're stuck in a creative rut?
First, recognize that you may be limiting your own creativity by how you define it.
"Creativity pretty much means anything that helps you convey your message, that helps you deliver your products, services or gifts," says Sunshine Boatright, the Savannah, Georgia-based coach who prefers the term "spiritual alchemist." An entrepreneur herself, she helps her clients transform their businesses, relationships and lives.
For some entrepreneurs, creativity may manifest as producing a video, writing, creating a course, making a free download or doing a consultation, she suggests. "Being able to meet someone where they're at requires creativity that has nothing to do with anything on canvas."
If the muse isn't showing up, however, Boatright says it's important to "just acknowledge where you are, have that self-awareness…that you're stuck." By acknowledging it, you're more likely to do something about it.
MOVE IT AND THEN KEEP IT MOVING
Once you've accepted that you aren't in the flow, Boatright suggests you create your own flow, by either moving your body, or literally getting in the flow of water, such as a beach, a pool, or the place where many of us get our ideas: the shower.
"I tell people to get out of their head and into their bodies in some shape or form. The enemy of creativity is staying in your head," she shares.
Moving the energy, however, doesn't mean the muse is going to bust down the door immediately, but it does tend to get you doing something other than sitting and stewing in how stuck you are. "Whether the inspired idea comes or not, you can just start to do anything, whether that's creating a classic or just writing a blog post," she gives as examples.
She shares a scenario from her own entrepreneurial life. She knew she needed to make a graphic to accompany a blog post, but she wasn't sure what either would be. So she opened her Canva program, scanned pretty photos, and inserted one she liked, and then the post began to materialize in her mind, with a lovely graphic to accompany it. If she hadn't started, she says, "The inspiration wouldn't have come, because I wasn't doing anything."
Sometimes a block in the flow of creativity comes from waiting for others to do their half of a collaboration. However, waiting can be a creativity killer. "Do the part that you can do right now," Boatright urges. "Because let's face it-as entrepreneurs there are multiple things we are doing in our business every day. If you have to wait, go do the next thing on your to-do list."
Boatright says that as a creative she doesn't always love consistency in the moment, but, "I love the results of it" and she's a firm believer that entrepreneurs need to cultivate this skill.
So, find a way, every day, to work toward your goals even if only in the smallest of ways. "Maybe you create a graphic or you write out a quick note in your phone," she says.
Even within the somewhat limited rails of consistency exists the possibility of changing things up, particularly if you're feeling stuck. "If you're over your typical thing, try a new outlet," she recommends. "If you typically write, record a quick live video, do something to get outside of that norm for a minute." More often than not, that will help you light a spark.
An often-overlooked symptom of creative block is fatigue, Boatright says. If you're overworking yourself, it's one of the fastest ways to kill creativity.
"We get overtired, agitated, grumpy and then we go to create some more and say why aren't the ideas coming? Where's my creative muse today-she's abandoned me."
You haven't been abandoned, she says, you just need to rest. "I'm really big on self-care, whether you're an entrepreneur or creative or not. If you want to be long-term in this game, you have to rest."
In the long run, creativity isn't just about generating new ideas all the time, but, she says, "about being willing to evolve, both in your business and as a person."
"If you overthink it too much, you become less creative."