The How-To for Creative Cycle Success

We all have a creative side whether that translates to art, the corporate world or into our hobbies. Following recipes, instructions or templates make any process easier to execute and smoother sailing, but is it the most rewarding? For us at nluv Finish and Design Studio, creativity and inspiration are at the core of everything we do. But sometimes, the creative cycle is less than glamorous and can be downright frustrating. If your creative side hits a rough patch, here’s a few tips to help keep you moving forward.

Creative Cycle Coping

Sketch it out

creative cycle
Start with sketch & go from there.

Before you dive right in, sit back, get a notepad & a pencil and start to sketch. Dump all the ideas you have in your head out onto paper. This is a great way to visually see all the pieces. If I don’t write down my ideas, odds are I will forget that perfect little piece to the puzzle when the moment arises. You can’t expect to remember every great idea you’ve ever had to then recall it at just the right time.

It’s much easier to scribble all over your drawing tablet to flush out what’s worthy of further exploring and those ideas to leave behind for the time being. The sketch is a great way to kick off the creative cycle and save you time in the end. If you like your idea on paper, odds are you’ll love it in the tangible world too!

Stick with it

Once you have an idea, don’t quit in the middle when you hate what you see. In order for it to be considered a project, odds are there’s lots of layers and steps. After two layers or revisions, you might cringe at what you’re looking at. But, stick with it and finish your idea before judging the outcome. Many decorative painting projects & furniture pieces we design are NOT so pretty in a middle stage… like they follow the caterpillar/butterfly life cycle. It’s important to continue to layer, work and transform the piece into the butterfly you know lies underneath. Many creative people have the philosophy that you keep working on a piece until you have the ‘Ah-ha, I love it’ moment… this mantra works for me almost all the time!

Take a break

creative cycle
Take a break & step away for a fresh perspective.

Walk away… get some fresh air… take a break. It’s great to have a strong work ethic and burn the midnight-oil, but for creativity, sometimes you just need to walk away and let your mind rest. If your creative cycle frustration starts building where layer after layer you can’t decide if you love it or hate it, you need a breather.

When you lose sight of the end vision and the project feels like it’s derailing, move onto another project or call it a day. Some of our best pieces have come from taking a break and coming back into the studio with a new, fresh perspective. A 15 minute walk outside, breathing in the fresh air & listening to nature can recharge those creative batteries and spark the next perfect idea to bring your vision to fruition.

Find new inspiration

Have you ever found yourself bored with your project and just wanting to scrap it all together? That’s another sign of creativity fatigue but you can beat it! Perhaps things feel like you keep completing the same project over and over and nothing new is coming from you. What you need is fresh inspiration and it’s as simple as that! Where do you go to find inspiration?

creative cycle
Mother Nature is full of inspiration.

Finding inspiration is as personal as your creative cycle itself. If you don’t know where to go, that’s OK. Over the years, I have my three trusty sources that never let me down – going outside, talking with people & searching ideas.

  • First, I go outside. Running, biking or snowboarding in the mountains for me clears my mind & opens my senses as Mother Nature whispers great new ideas into my ears while I’m breathing in the fresh air. I can get my daily exercise and creative inspiration all at once!
  • My second source is to just be social. Talking with people whether over coffee or at an event helps mind focus on other topics and in turn, gives me creativity clarity. Ideas literally will pop into my head during random conversations. The conversations have nothing to do with my projects and that is the key. My mind is no longer focused on my art and instead has a chance to take a break. That little break revs up my creative engine for another great day in the studio.
  • Finally (yet really important), I look to other creative people for ideas. Reading blogs, articles and searching the web can give me just the spark I need. This is why sharing is so important as it keeps the creative community humming along like a well oiled art-machine.

Get an outside opinion

Most people don’t like others critiquing their work but it could be just what you need. When you are trying to decide between the sample on the left or right, ask someone close to you what they think. Find a source that will give you honest, useful feedback. A comment they make could give you just the idea you need to keep things moving forward.

creative cycle
Get an outside opinion for feedback & help deciding.

When I work on a project for a long time and come to a fork in the design, it’s time for an outside opinion. Talking back and forth with someone on what they think & sharing what your initial ideas were, you may figure out how to tweak the design recipe to hit the finish line. Don’t be discouraged by harsh feedback. It’s better to get that from an inside source to help course correct rather than a customer who is disappointed in your work.

Don’t give up

My last pointer for marking success in your creative cycle is just plain ‘Don’t give up‘. Being creative is hard! If it was easy, we would all just imagine & design amazing things all day, everyday and no one would need to share or learn from anyone. DIY would be dead because we would all be creative geniuses & never talk about it. Even professionals go through tough-times with creativity. I have had projects that went through several weeks of samples before I found the path I wanted to take. Every idea won’t be great and each project will take the time it takes to blossom. Don’t rush your creative cycle and never give up. A neighbor once gave me a beautiful dresser and I walked past it in my studio for over a year before the perfect idea finally came to me. If inspiration for a project isn’t instantaneous, that’s normal. Use your creative outlets to find the inspiration you need and forge ahead.

Embrace your creative side, however it shines in your life. Don’t compare your creative powers to others. Your creative cycle is one-of-a-kind just to you and that’s what makes it so amazing. Share your ideas & look in the world around you for inspiration. Happy creating!

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