Do you sometimes feel like you’ve run out of ideas? Or that you’re just churning out the same old, same old?

I know I feel like this from time to time.

The client might change, but the process stays the same. The creative pool where you find inspiration or reference points is the same. The deliverables might vary between projects or clients, but generally they are much of a muchness.

 This leads to creative burn-out. The spark has died. Lost, or smothered.

But you still need to work, put food on the table and money in the bank. Deep inside, you’re desperate to bust out some new moves. You really want your clients to just love it, accept it and not freak out.

However, the reality is that if you deviate wildly from what your clients and customers expect from you, you might break your business. You fear it might truly chase clients away.

So you just carry on day-to-day doing your best work. The stuff that you find easy and that clients love. Yawn.

But wait…could there be a way to spice things up in the creative department and not leave your clients scratching their heads in confusion and worry?

Pages from my daily challenge sketchbook.

The answer is Yes!

Last year I felt a bit bored with my work. So I started seeking ways to spark my creativity again. I realised that I was focusing ALL of my creativity and talents on my clients.

I’d lost the childlike joy of simply doing stuff for no reason beyond keeping myself amused!

Selfish creativity. I love being selfish. Because if my needs aren’t being met, I certainly can’t feel the joy of meeting everyone else’s needs. That’s true for all of us, in all parts of life.

Fill your cup up first, and then give the overflow to others. Put your mask on first, and then help those around you.

Indulge in creative experimentation for YOU. Who cares if it’s unsaleable or a bit crap?

This is what I am doing to spark my creativity. It’s work in progress. It might work for you too.

  • I started going to life-drawing classes and feeling the joy of being in a room with other creatives at various levels of expertise and with differing motivations for being there. Our goal was to create, to be creative, to enjoy the human form, to mark-make and feel a sense of personal happiness. Not win a pitch, gain a client, make a sale, fill a portfolio.
  • I hired a creativity coach to speak inside The Creative Business Hub and teach us how to find our creative spark. Learning from others and being exposed to new ways of thinking is one of THE most important things you can do. I recorded the session, and it’s housed inside the Speaker Series Library in the membership area, for members to watch on demand.
  • I rifled through my old portfolios from art school, from my design degree, from the days before sales, social media metrics, invoicing and annual revenue reviews.

Physical, zip-up black portfolios of all sizes filled with hand created drawings, sketches, photos of finished pieces, sketchbooks bulging with experimentation, torn out magazine pages. Those innocent days of just experimenting and learning.

I was so delighted to be reunited with some beloved projects and I marvelled at how ingenious I was back then. Scrappy, imperfect, slightly crap but curious and unburdened.

  • I took an AI art class. You might have seen the email I sent a couple of weeks ago on this. It was fascinating and opened up a whole new world to me.
  • And recently, I embarked on a personal daily creativity challenge. My mother gave me a beautiful, cotton-rag paper sketchpad from The Royal Academy in London, when I visited last year.

I’ve stared at the blank pages for months. But now I am filling them daily with doodles, sketches, observations, collages, notes. I am hoping to find joy in just being creative with ZERO expectations. And I am opening real books to draw inspiration from. NOT the usual digital spaces. And I am drawing what I see around me. I am making a right old mess…..glorious!!

(Side note, my mother is a patron of the RA and we had access all areas; it was very exciting to roam the halls and eat in the private dining room)

And slowly, you can introduce the new stuff into your client-work, into your portfolio, onto your canvases, into your creative process.

It’s a gentle evolution of your work that stems from your joyous creative flair.

No more creative burn-out. No more stagnation.