Eight fun ways to spice up your creative mojo


By Jessica Brodie Empty well. Waterless pit. Fruitless basket.

However you spin it, you know what I mean—that point when, no matter how disciplined you are, no matter how much you wish it away, you’ve hit a creative wall and your once-full cup is now bone dry.

Maybe you’ve been operating on overdrive and now, maxed out, you’re done. Stress and sleepless nights have caught up with you.

Or maybe it’s a personal setback: a job layoff, a broken relationship, a death, a serious illness.

Whatever it is and no matter how hard you’ve embraced your inner Wonder Woman or Superman, running low on creative energy happens to all of us.

Sometimes, the solution is just gumption—no way through it but to do it. You find some secret reservoir you didn’t know was there, and that’s enough to keep you going.

But other times you’re tapped out, really and truly.

That’s when it’s time to switch gears. As Albert Einstein is thought to have said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So when you get to that point where push doesn’t shove, stop. Shake it up, and reawaken yourself with a new experience or series of new experiences.

See, the idea is to shift your brain to focus on something else so you’re not trapped or forced into your old worn-out creative spaces but rather tapped into someplace new. At the very best, you’ll fill the proverbial cup and be able to pour out your creative water on the world again. At the worst, you’ll enjoy yourself with a fun diversion until your dry spell passes.

Here are eight fun ways to spice up your creative mojo (no matter your budget or ability):

  1. Take a trip.

Grab your favorite carefree pal (your spouse, your pet, your bestie) and get out of Dodge. It doesn’t matter where you go. The important thing here is to free yourself from routine and most responsibility and enjoy a new side of life, whether it’s for an afternoon or a weekend. Last weekend, my husband and I had a free ticket to Disney Hollywood Studios, so we drove the seven hours to spend a day pretending we were kids. We’ve done this with before with all four of our children, but this time it was just us, and it was a lot easier to pretend I was a kid without being called “Mommy” all day or worrying whether one of my precious flock had wandered off! That was on the pricier side of the spectrum, but I’ve also done a local, cheapy getaway that was just as effective. The key is to try to leave as much normal responsibility behind as possible—set work aside, don’t check your email or Facebook, you name it.

  1. Catch some fresh air.

Enjoy an experience in the Great Outdoors, whatever that means to you. You can take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway or along the coastal highway, go mountain bike riding, or do a run/walk somewhere lovely and new. Just take a little time to explore God’s creation and forget yourself awhile as you bask in His beauty.

  1. Flex a different creative muscle.

Studies show your brain grows when you learn or finesse something new, so why not temporarily put your chosen mode expression aside in favor of another? I’m a writer, but I also really love photography, whether that’s soft rays of light glimmering through trees, or bold and unusual architecture, or my wild and wacky kiddos doing their thing. It helps when I put my laptop (and my pen) aside once in awhile and embrace another mode. Sometimes I use a good camera, and other times I just use my iPhone, which takes remarkably good pictures. My husband, who is a photographer, likes woodworking, and other creatives I know enjoy pottery or sketching. I’m not particularly crafty or a first-rate chef, but I’ve sometimes found expressive release in baking or painting inspirational thoughts on stained planks of wood. Try whatever appeals to you.

  1. Read something different.

If you’re a nonfiction reader, dive into a really good, deep fiction book with a strong, captivating protagonist and fall in love with the written word in a new way. If you’re into fiction already, try a nonfiction read, or go for a completely different genre, whether romance or sci-fi or faith-based.

  1. Go to the movies!

Sure, it’s pricy, but you get what you pay for. Even if you have to drive a long distance, go to a really good, clean, top-notch theater with comfy, reclining seats and the latest sound technology. Get popcorn and candy and sit in the center near the front so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience. If you can’t leave home or money is just too tight, this can work at home with a Redbox DVD or an iTunes stream if you get creative. Rearrange the sofa for ideal viewing, gather some fluffy blankets, make a little comfortable nest where you can relax, turn off the lights, crank up the volume—and don’t forget something yummy.

  1. Do a food switcheroo.

Speaking of yummy, food can have a powerful effect on your emotions. When you switch up your normal culinary lineup, it can trigger the kind of expressive release you need to shift into a new creative gear. If you’re normally a meat-and-potatoes person, explore vegetarian dishes for a few days. Swap out your turkey sandwich for a baguette topped with sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, or your sausage biscuit for an omelet or steel cut oats. If you are a carbohydrate connoisseur, try scaling back to grain carbs at just one meal a day, or none at all, and instead sample an array of vegetables, beans, fruits, meats, and cheeses. You don’t need to make this change long-term—just a day or two should do the trick.

  1. Biorhythmic shakeup.

Turn your body clock on its head for a few days. If you’re a night owl, go to sleep extra early and wake at dawn to enjoy the sunrise and the quiet moments of morning. If you’re an early bird, sleep in and then stay up late a few nights doing some fun activities, whether that’s board or card games or a television show or a late-night walk around your neighborhood. You’ll feel off-kilter enough for a creative boost.

  1. Go backwards... into your own family history.

Make a family tree. Interview older relatives about their childhoods. Organize your photos into albums or scrapbooks, or use a digital app to make a photo book online from the photos you’ve been storing on your iPhone the last several years. Recalling family memories—or discovering secrets or fun facts—can trigger a wealth of creative material.

Let me know what works for you!

Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.