3 ways to tap into your creative flow

How to get your creative juices flowing more of the time

I used to be the kind of person who waited for the muse to strike. I’d drop a project for days or weeks even until I felt in the mood to work on it. When my imagination was firing on all cylinders it felt amazing. In the fallow times it felt like I’d never have an idea again.

In some circles that seems to be the approved way, kind of romanticised. We have visions of poets and artists languishing in despair, waiting for the few nuggets of pure gold which suddenly appear every now and then. Like the rollercoaster is an essential part of the journey, it’s how you pay your dues. But when being creative became my job that had to change.

Go for a walk. It helps relieve any tensions and anxiety which keeps you out of the creative zone. Walking has also been found to stimulate the growth of new Brian cells and increased brain power can’t be bad. As a graphic designer I didn’t have the luxury of reclining on a chaise longue hand to my forehead. Instead when the ideas weren’t flowing I’d push through, wrestling with my designs, having sleepless nights and doing the best I could. I did usually get there in the end but it wasn’t a fun process and kind of sucked the joy out of what was supposed to be my dream jog.

Since then I’ve learned a lot through studying mindset techniques and I’ve found ways to win without the fight. Because your creative flow isn’t a mystical occurrence which only comes along when the stars align, you can actually find it any time. You just have to know where to look.

Remember a time when you were in your creative flow

One of the beauties of your mind is that to a degree it can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. Ever had a dream in which someone did you wrong and you wake up feeling shirty with them even though you know in reality they didn’t do anything? Ever imagined an unpleasant version of the future and felt frightened or worried? It’s the same mechanism at play which means when you remember a time when you were in flow you can actually create that flow mindset. Here’s how -

  • Get comfortable somewhere and close your eyes to help you concentrate.
  • Imagine a time when you were really in flow.
  • Flesh it out in as much detail as possible.
  • What were you doing?
  • Where were you? What time of day was it? Was it warm or cool?
  • What could you see around you?
  • How did you feel, excited, joyful, calm, something else?
  • What could you see around you?
  • How did you feel, excited, joyful, calm, something else?
  • What could you feel against your skin? What were you touching or holding?
  • Were there any smells around you?
  • What could you hear? Were there people talking, music playing, sound of tapping on the keyboard or a pencil against paper? Was it quiet apart from your own thoughts?
  • What were you thinking? What were you saying out loud or in your mind?
  • Make the images bigger and brighter, dial up the feeling and let it soak through you.
  • When you’re ready and really feeling it open your eyes and go create.

Breathe into creativity and away from fear

Often what’s stopping you from reaching that amazing flow state is anxiety or fear. We love being creative but we can also fear our efforts won’t be good enough and we’ll be judged by others. Those fears can keep you out of the zone because they take up your imagination filling it with scary visions.

They can also put you into fight or flight mode. You know, the mode you go into when you feel in danger and you can’t think straight because your mind and body are overwhelmed by the threat. It’s pretty much impossible to get into your flow when you feel like that so you need to change how you feel.

The breath is definitely underrated in its amazing ability to calm your body and mind. Maybe it’s because it’s easily available and free and we tend not to value the free and easy stuff. But a few minutes of breathing can really reduce fear and worry and bring you back into flow.

  • Get comfortable somewhere you won’t be disturbed.
  • Take a few regular breaths.
  • Then start to deepen your breath a bit, still keeping it comfortable.
  • Now begin to imagine every breath is coming in through you heart and going out through your heart.
  • Put your right hand over your heart area to help you to concentrate.
  • Imagine the heart expanding as it takes in the breath and contracting as it expels the breath.
  • Imagine breathing in calm into your heart and breathing out tension.
  • Breathing in nutrients and oxygen, breathing out toxins.
  • Really feel the breath coming in and out of the heart.
  • Spend a few minutes breathing like this before you let your breathing go back to normal.

Fill up your inspiration bucket

projects. Like any other part of your body your mind needs nutrition and rest but it also needs experiences, to see, feel, taste, smell, touch and move in as many different ways as possible. Because creativity at its essence is taking our experiences and creating links between them and seeing patterns that other people don’t see. So you need to feed your brain new experiences so it has more material to work on. Here are some ideas to try out.

  • If you don’t usually listen to music why not give it a go.
  • Go to a comedy gig.
  • Haven’t been to a museum for a while why not go this weekend.
  • Visit a borough of your city you haven’t been to before.
  • Have a go at another art form which uses different senses. If you’re a very visual person have a go at writing. If you’re a writer try painting or sculpting.
  • Go for a walk. It helps relieve any tensions and anxiety which keeps you out of the creative zone. Walking has also been found to stimulate the growth of new Brian cells and increased brain power can’t be bad.
  • Get sufficient rest because it’s in the downtime when your brain sorts through all the information so it can see the patterns to make unique and interesting connections which result in ideas.

These are some of the things which work for me, what about you? If you give them a go and let me know how you get on.

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rachel@rachelgoth.com