Creativity is a lovely thing. It can cure boredom. Soothe a heavy heart. On some days it can even make a job seem like more than just a four letter word. However, creativity doesn’t always come easily.

But Jeannie, you’re a creative type, you must be overflowing with creativity right? In the words of Lana from Archer…NOOooope. And I think many people don’t understand that there’s a difference between imagination and creativity. Sure we can be full of imagination. We can let our mind wonder and mine does all the time. I can think about fictional stories, ideas, or even paintings of far off places but none of those are creative. Creativity is an action. It is looking at a blank piece of paper and finding the proper way to fill it. To see a dress, and then figure out how to put the cloth together and make a fucking dress. Creativity is problem solving. And with anything in which you do, you can become exhausted.

I work in a creative field, and likewise my creative pot (for lack of a better word) depletes rather quickly. So how can you, as a young or burnt creative fight the empty bucket syndrome? Well, you’re in luck! Here are a few of my favorite refreshing ways to fill my creativity pot.

  1. Switch the problem. If one of the obstacles is a problem that you’ve worked on for a long while and the solution eludes you—walk away. Work on something else. When I work on design problems for too long, my eyes cross and I hate everything that comes out of Illustrator. So I’ll switch to a different problem. I’ll start coding a website. When your artistic pot is empty, switch to another pot. You are still doing but you’re also allowing the other pot to refill.
  2. If work is the problem don’t take it home. Under no circumstances should you take work home, even if you work from home. I work from home quite frequently, perks of traveling so much. But when the workday is done, I close the computer and walk away. I feel like this is the way I refill my creativity the most; by walking away. By having that separation of work and home you can easily let your imagination start to revive your creativity. If you are continually on your email via smartphone, you are still working and your brain will not shut off from work mode. How does watching a movie feel if you’re worried about Soandso’s scope? The world will not burn down if you don’t answer an email during non-working hours.
  3. Find your luxury. The book Artist Way brings up the idea of small luxuries and to make enjoying them a habit. For me, it’s having coffee on Thursdays with a friend. When I’m out of the country, we Skype. This little luxury, a coffee, a friend, makes each week that much better. I know for three hours I am unplugged from life and get to listen to another human being with no agenda. Other little luxuries can include things like: going to the movies by yourself, a museum, a set of drawing pencils, or even a new app for your phone.
  4. Work hard, play harder. We’ve all heard the phrase, but I didn’t get it until I started working as a Creative Director. I remember hanging out with some founders in San Francisco and just didn’t understand why they were into rock climbing or rafting and whatnot. But one day walking away from the creative work I loved doing was not enough, I wanted to go back and work some more on my weekends; so I found hiking. It forces you to unplug.

Force yourself to experience things you wouldn’t normally do. Step outside your comfort zone. This is how I refill my creativity. When it comes to creativity, how do you refill yours?

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