Let’s face it: even the most creative of people aren’t always creative. There are days when even opening up your notebook is taxing. Deadlines are looming, publishers growing impatient, but the project still isn’t complete. We’ve all had these days, and they’re never fun. But there are ways to fight these blocks, to rekindle your passion and jumpstart your creativity. While it does vary from person to person, here are the tricks I usually pull out when my innovation is low.

1. Revisit what inspired you in the first place.

This one may be the most difficult, depending on what the inspiration was, but I also find it yields the most results. Even the most original of concept were inspired by something, and it may be necessary during the creation process to revisit it. It reminds me why the idea was worth working on in the first place, and not just another example of random shower thoughts. If it’s a book or a game, I’ll go back and reexperience it. If it’s a location, I’ll do my best to return (if it’s within reason, time, and budget). It’s not the easiest option, but it can be extremely effective.

2. Try a different project.

Sometimes, you just grow fatigued of working on the same thing day in and day out. If you’re able to, take a break from the original project to work on something else, especially if it’s a complete departure from the project you’re blocked on. When you return, you’ll have a clear head and fresh eyes and working on it won’t feel quite as repetitive. This does depend on schedule and access to another project to work on, however, so only attempt this if you know you have both at your disposal. Don’t hijack someone else’s work just because you’re struggling with your own.

3. Ask for help.

There’s no shame in asking for help. Really, there isn’t. Unless the project you’re working on is top-secret, sharing it with a colleague or coworker is an effective way to get some feedback and a new direction. Give them a brief synopsis or a look at what you already have and listen to what they tell you. They might open up a new pathway you hadn’t considered. However, if their contribution ends up being fairly major, do give them credit. Stealing ideas isn’t polite.

4. Take a breather.

No, you’re not slacking, you’re getting your creative juices flowing! But in all seriousness, if you need to get back to work ASAP, spending a couple minutes with a puzzle or a toy can work wonders in getting your brain recalibrated and releasing some of your frustrations. Fidget toys like stress balls or spinners do a wonderful job at this and can be used fairly discretely if you’re worried about bothering others. I personally keep a fidget cube at my desk- a quick swivel and button press usually is enough to get some holes poked in the dam my mind’s created.

5. Snack time.

In an earlier article, we documented the power that tea has as a creativity booster and other foods that can do the same. But even just a glass of water and a granola bar can do wonders. It fills your stomach and gives your brain one less thing to worry about. Water especially is important, as some types of headaches can be a warning against dehydration. With the headache gone, you’re free to work in peace, and may finally get that project done.

Again, all of these methods are what I personally use. You may- and likely will- differ. Find what cures your own innovation block, and let’s get back to creating.

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