13 Ways to Be Creative When You Feel Unimaginative

You are a creative but when you sit down to create you go blank. What do you do? All creatives have bad days. Sometimes a string of bad days. Do you have a toolbox of ways to be creative when you feel unimaginative? Read on for 13 ways to be creative when you feel unimaginative.

Image shows a imperfect, poorly made snowman that illustrate one of 13 ways to be creative when you feel unimaginative

Give Yourself Permission to do Badly

Often the reason you cannot create is because of expectations you have. Perhaps you need to be creatively private. Or you expect yourself to create when you are undergoing personal upheaval. Maybe you’re ill or too tired.

Give yourself permission to do the work badly. Challenge yourself and deliberately make your creative endeavor as flawed as you can. Allow yourself to fill it with mistakes. Sometimes, a mistake becomes inspiration. And if it doesn’t? Then you’ve learned what not to do.

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow.

Mary Tyler Moore

Turn it Upside Down

One way to shake loose your creativity is to change things up. For example, if you’ve been writing from the viewpoint of a woman—change it to the viewpoint of a man or a child. If you’ve been trying to design a pattern for a hat—change it up and design socks or shoes.

My artist husband used to take a drawing and literally turn it upside down. It changed the way he looked at the project.

Turn your project upside down. Seeing it from a fresh perspective may kick-start those creative juices.

Look Through Your Inspiration File

You keep an inspiration file, don’t you? If not, start one. As a writer, you might collect clever twists on clichés or plot twists. As an artist, you might have photos of nature or walk through a museum or exhibition. Knitters might have clippings from style magazines. Visual and word or sound based inspirations may unlock your creativity vault.

An inspiration file can be a place like a museum or art gallery or even a shopping mall or park. It can also be websites that inspire you.

Catch up on Housekeeping Tasks

Let’s face it. You’re a creative. You want to be making something, not working on spreadsheets, or balancing the checkbook, or filing papers. Do the taxes. Market your work. Do some or all those “non-creative” tasks you must do in order to keep your creative business going.

Step Away from the Computer

As a creative, it’s easy to burn yourself out. You have deadlines, need the money, or have more ideas than time… One way to be creative when you feel unimaginative is to give yourself a physical break. Step away from the computer for an hour or all day. Take a walk, exercise, swim, play a sport. Even a road trip might be the break your creative mind needs to refresh.

Try a Different Creative Endeavor

man's hands playing the piano a different creative endeavor is  one of 13 Ways to Be Creative When You Feel Unimaginative

When you’re stuck, try a new creative endeavor. If your normal creative endeavors are intellectual, choose a physical creativity. And vise Versa. Water colors, finger painting, hand lettering, cook a new recipe, make a video, or carve soap or wood may open new creative pathways in your brain.

Playing the piano is for me a way of getting unstuck. If I’m stuck in life or in what I’m writing, if I can, I sit down and play the piano. What it does is break the barrier that comes between the conscious and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind wants to take over and refuses to let the subconscious mind work, the intuition. So if I can play the piano, that will break the block, and my intuition will be free to give things up to my mind, my intellect. So it’s not just a hobby. It’s a joy.

Madeline L’Engle

Redecorate Your Space

Is the physical space you work in conducive to creativity? Perhaps, redecorating your space will not only give you a break from your current project—it might help you create a more inspiring workplace. Or, if you are a messy creator, clean it up. Sometimes our physical environment blocks our creativity.

Read a Book

Fiction or nonfiction can be inspirational. Read for escape or information, but not about something that involves your project. Step into a different world for a time. Let your subconscious work by engaging your conscious mind in an activity that keeps it busy.

Listen to a Podcast

You can find a podcast on any topic you are interested in. Listen to one or two podcasts. A podcast may provide new insights on your work. Need a few suggestions? Check out my posts Listen & Learn: Podcasts and Listen & Learn: Podcasts on Writing. You can also google podcasts or search Spotify or Apple Music or any of the other podcast services.

Brainstorm with Someone

Find a mentor or a creative like you. Talk out your creative block. Often talking out your problem or block will clear it all on its own. Sometimes a second viewpoint will see things more clearly than you. Or ask a question that inspires new thoughts.

Take On A Creative Challenge

Creative prompts or exercises can develop your skills and open fresh paths of imagination. There are writing prompts online, art prompts, or you can make your own prompts and exercises. Don’t do the prompts because practice makes perfect, but to explore your skills or develop your skills.

Be A Child Again

woman hanging upside down from tree limb --a different perspective is one of the 13 ways

Have you ever watched a child play? No? Then go to a playground or ask a family friend for permission to play with their children. Children play with energy and unending imagination. They don’t fetter themselves with the need to be perfect. They just have fun. Energize your imagination and be a child again.

Don’t Give Up

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying. B.F. Skinner

Creative blocks happen, not because you lack imagination but because something in your creative or personal life needs addressed. Look at your project and life upside down so you can see where you need to make changes. Use these 13 ways to be creative when you feel unimaginative. Don’t give up, keep working on your dreams. You are creative even when you don’t feel imaginative.


  1. Don’t give up seems to be the main one.

    I have so little energy due to chronic illness that showing up at the computer to try again, every day, is my statement. I get a little further down the road to publication of the second novel in my mainstream trilogy every day. Just as with the first volume, once you have completed all the steps – you’re done!

    1. Alicia, I think you have a fantastic mindset. Just showing up at the keyboard, no matter how many words you get done is a statement. And a step forward. I admire your ability to make the best of your situation. And I’m cheering you onward!

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