Five Ways to Refuel Creativity

Miscellaneous Writing

The busyness and pressures of everyday life often take their toll on creativity. It’s easy to find yourself drained, exhausted, and in need of a little refreshment to nurture the imagination. In those times, “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering” (AA Milne).

That can be easier said than done, so when you find yourself without inspiration, try to take a few moments and…

1) Get outdoors. Something about the outside air, the sunshine, and the natural beauty can do wonders for the imagination. Charles Spurgeon once said: “He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy. A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours, ramble in the beech woods’ umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers…” Substitute writers for ministers, and there you have it!

2) Pray as you work. For so many reasons, it’s wisdom, both in the times when the inspiration comes swiftly and when it seems absent. I find when I’m stuck in a scene or story, taking a step back and dialoging with God about it can provide much needed perspective and insight. We’re formed in the image of a Creator, and creativity flows best in connection with Him.

3) Get your body moving. Give your mind a break and set your hands to work. Whether its in the form of basic household tasks, a quick walk, or more vigorous exercise, quiet times of physical activity provide the imagination space to play.

4) Listen to music. Certain types of music almost always stir my imagination, infusing me with emotion and ideas. Many studies suggest a strong link between creativity and music, so you may as well take advantage of it, whether you listen while you work or take a break and let the melodies inspire you.

5) Read a book. Yes, you’re still in the realm of words, but sometimes enjoying the art and inventiveness of another story world for a little while will refresh your mind.

I’ve found these ideas helpful when it comes to writing, but they can apply to any creative undertaking–art, music, craftsmanship of any form. They can help you appreciate the beauty of the little things, the wonders God has placed around us. What do you do when your wells of creativity are running low?

Image credit: P_Breen


  • Warren Baldwin
    June 15, 2011 - 2:27 pm · Reply

    Excellent post! I already #’s 3 & 5, but not always consciously. I just notice that when I do them I feel a bit recharged. But, I will make a deliberate effort to follow all 5 of these. Very practical and workable.

    Linked here from FB. Will check out more of your blog.

    Family Fountain

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 16, 2011 - 8:08 pm · Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Warren! I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s amazing how beneficial it can be to take a little time and deliberately recharge. You get so much more accomplished in the long run if you don’t let yourself burn out.

  • Emily
    June 15, 2011 - 9:34 pm · Reply

    This is a wonderful post! Though I may not be a world-renowned author, I still get restless and stumped while writing a paper for school, or even while doing algebra. This provides some good tips for clearing a foggy brain. 🙂

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 16, 2011 - 8:12 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Emily! I really think these tips apply to any creative or intellectual endeavor–whether it be schoolwork, writing a novel, working on a painting, or any similar task. There’s a time to persevere and get things done, and there’s a time to take a little break and come back stronger. It seems our minds create best with a little breathing room. 🙂

  • Mary
    June 16, 2011 - 11:03 am · Reply

    This was a wonderful post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing your insight!
    I often use one, or a variation, or a combination of your suggestions to get my creative juices flowing again when they get a bit stagnant and murky. One of my favorite solutions is to take my dog for a walk down to the bridge below my house and sit and dangle my feet over the side for a while. Listening to the water and praying for a while always help with frustration at least, even if it doesn’t fix whatever story problem I’m having.
    If things get really bad, writing-wise, I may resort to washing a sink full of dishes. Listening to a Celtic CD or a movie soundtrack while I do rarely fails to get me inspired and ready to write again.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 16, 2011 - 8:24 pm · Reply

      You’re most welcome, Mary! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into what works for you. I love your solution of walking down to the water to pray–it sounds both peaceful and refreshing. I live rather near to a river and a reservoir/state park, but they’re not within walking distance, so I have to be intentional about getting outdoors and into refreshing environments.

      Washing the dishes isn’t my favorite household task, but it’s funny how those menial jobs cause ideas to flow. You just never know what will do the trick. 🙂

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