Creative work can sometimes feel like actual work, which is something I personally try to avoid as much as I can. (Avoiding the feeling, that is, not work.) But although I’d love to work on my creative business 24/7 if I didn’t need to sleep, I still sometimes fall short of the actual creativity, like every drop of it has already been squeezed out of me. Fortunately I still believe in fun instead of struggle, so I keep a list of things you can do to boost your creativity that are actually fun and not draining. On top of that, most of these cost next to nothing
This is by no means an exhaustive list, which is why I would love to hear your ideas and add them to this post. Just leave a comment with your favourite creative activities!
1 / Play video games
I know older generations like to rag on video games as being “mindless entertainment”, but I’m sure that anyone who has played video games other than Pacman or Space Invaders knows that there’s so much storytelling involved in them. One of my favourite games is Skyrim, and although the main questline isn’t particularly intriguing to me (sorry), I find the scenery and the atmosphere of the game really inspiring. I literally want to start writing a fantasy saga every time I play it.
I know this tip technically isn’t free if you don’t have any video games or a way to play them, but if you happen to already own a computer or a console, try sparking your creativity by playing some Sims or Fallout or whatever your heart desires.
2 / Try a new hobby for a day
Many of us already have so much on our plates that starting a new hobby just doesn’t seem feasible, which is why I’m suggesting you do it only for a day. There are plenty of hobbies that don’t require you to use equipment you don’t already own, and they’re easy to access through the same device you’re using to read this blog post. I know! Amazing!
Here are some ideas: Bollywood dancing, learning Mandarin, scrapbooking, creative self portraits, making TikToks or Reels and birdwatching. Just remember to uninstall Duolingo after you’ve been learning a new language for a day or the owl will keep pestering you.
3 / Try some new crafts and make something with your hands
Many of us have very intangible creative projects like writing or graphic design, which is totally valid, but it’s nothing like creating something with your own hands. You don’t even have to run to the craft store because there are so many things you can make with materials that you most likely already have in your home.
Pinterest is a great place to find different kinds of craft projects, but if you don’t want to get sucked into that rabbit hole again, you’ll find something fun to make on Jennifer Maker’s site, for example.
4 / Alternatively, write something
Maybe you already are one of those people who can’t touch a napkin without turning it into a fun crafting project for the whole family, in which case I don’t only envy you, but I also recommend trying something different for a change. Write a little story! Write a poem! It doesn’t matter if you think it’s going to be bad and you don’t know how to write, we’re not shooting for quality writing here. We’re trying to rattle your brain cells.
5 / Try journaling to boost your creativity
Do you have a notebook? Some empty paper? A note app on your phone? Then you are perfectly capable of writing a few journal entries.
Some people never start journaling because they think they can’t do it consistently. I’m not saying consistency isn’t important, because it usually is the most important component of doing anything well, but occasional journaling is still better than nothing. If you don’t know what to write and you think your days are too boring to write about, you can try using journaling prompts. You can find them for free, but if you have a few coins to spare, you can purchase my ebook of fun journaling prompts.
6 / Watch people compete with different creative skills
You probably have heard of Project Runway and Great British Bake-Off, but did you know there are other shows with similar formats? Netflix has shows about fashion, cooking and flower arrangement, and if you have access to British TV shows, I highly recommend watching The Great Pottery Throw Down or The Great British Sewing Bee. I know nothing about pottery or sewing, but I love watching regular people showing off their craft and using their imagination and creativity to deal with the challenges they face in the competitions.
You don’t have to be passionate or genuinely interested in something to watch a television show about it – all you need is curiosity.
7 / Fall down a Wikipedia rabbit hole
Research doesn’t necessarily spell “fun” to most people, but research for no particular reason can be really entertaining and it can spark unexpected creative ideas.
I love scientific names of plants and animals, so that’s my personal go-to for spontaneous research, but you can choose any subject you want. The less you already know about it, the better. If you can’t think of anything, try the random article function on Wikipedia and see where it leads you.
8 / Ask your friend, then do what they tell you to do
Don’t know what to draw, write about or crochet? Ask another creative person to decide it for you! The key is that you have to do what they suggest, otherwise it’s just going to become another “nah, I don’t feel like it” going through your already bored, stuck-in-a-creative-slump brain.
9 / Watch a Youtube video on something you know nothing about
You know what’s inspiring? Watching people talk about something they’re passionate about. It doesn’t matter if the subject is familiar to you at all, the excitement is still contagious. If you spend a lot of time with people who are somewhat similar to you, it could come as a surprise what people dedicate their lives to. Legos? E-sports? Street names? Victorian advertisements? It could be anything!
If you’re struggling with coming up with anything and Youtube is only recommending the same old stuff to you, find another random article on Wikipedia and then search for a video on the subject.
10 / Go outside to boost your creativity
I know the past three years have been kind of strange, but if going outside is a safe option for you and you don’t live in the middle of a concrete jungle, being in nature is good for you. Just try to avoid spiders.
Being outside is not only healthy, but it’s good for your creative process as well. It takes you away from your usual distractions and you get more space in your head for new ideas. As an added bonus, you might even see a cool bird!
11 / Fancast your favourite book
12 / Come up with a new soundtrack for your favourite movie
Writing fanfiction can be a fun creative exercise, but we don’t always have the time or the energy for it. But coming up with your own movie version of your favourite book and choosing the cast for it or making a playlist for your favourite movie (or the other way round) are really fun and totally free ways to boost your creativity.
Not everything you do has to be “useful”, and thinking you can’t do things just for fun will eventually become detrimental to your creativity. You’re trying to spark new ideas, not trying to come up with a new profitable side hustle. (BTW, if you know an actor who looks like a younger version of Snape, please let me know because I need to fancast my own novel.)
13 / Choose a book at random
Going to bookstores or the library might not be an option if there aren’t any nearby, but you could also borrow a book from your friend or your neighbour, or order a used book from Awesome Books.
When I go to the library, I don’t typically have anything specific in mind. I love to browse the shelves and grab anything that piques my interest, whether it’s because of the cover of the name of the book, and I’m always amazed at the things other people have managed to create. If they can do it, so can I!
14 / Create something bad on purpose
If you’ve read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you know about Vogons. You also know that they’re responsible for some of the worst poetry in the universe.
Coming up with something “not very good” is remarkably easy, but intentionally creating something really, really bad? Not so simple after all. You can try to be like the Vogons and write some genuinely terrible poetry, but you can apply the same principles to any other form of art as well. Write a terrible short story, draw an appalling portrait, create some hideous Pinterest graphics. You just have to choose something you’re actually good at so that you’ll have to make an effort to be awful.
For reference, here is a Vogon poem my friend and I wrote in high school for our creative writing class:
Painless road drips from the ceiling
The doormat’s desire for life
Fate of the nasal daylight
Is my back-combed spirit
And the glimmer of my gutting knife
My life as the prince of the superhuman nose bleed
Is, for your sake, the focusing to the waffle
We are the meeting of a tentacle and a mushroom
In a black cloud
Why settle for being a flounder
Fairness of the world is under it
With sparkles we return to the dusk
Are you overloaded?
Porphyrygranite sets the rules
Insect, insect, insect
It’s terrible, isn’t it? It’s even worse in my native Finnish and it never fails to cheer me up and make me feel more creative.
15 / Watch a TED talk
There are so many amazing TED and TEDx talks that it can feel almost impossible to choose just one to watch, but these talks about creativity are a good place to start.
16 / Use a random word generator
There are hundreds of random word generators out there on the internet to choose from, but to save you from the trouble, here’s one of them.
And what, exactly, are you supposed to do with random words? You could use them as prompts for pretty much anything: writing, photography, songwriting, embroidery… Only your imagination is the limit.
17 / Make a Pinterest aesthetic board
Making Pinterest boards is a fun way to use some creative thinking with very little actual effort. If you don’t know what “aesthetic” means in this context, here’s an example: Do you know the TV show Downton Abbey? If you were to make an aesthetic board (also called a mood board) for it, you wouldn’t necessarily include pictures from the actual show, but things like British mansions, horse-riding outfits, 1920s fashion, fancy candlesticks… You get the idea.
You can treat making picture boards as nothing but a fun activity, which is obviously fine, but they can be useful too. Whenever I start working on a new story, I like to make a mood board that I can easily refer to when I need to get into the right headspace. The same can be applied for many other creative endeavours – just try it and see how it works for you.
18 / Try creative photography
You don’t have to be a photographer to get something out of photography, and I would say that in terms of creativity, the action is more important than the results. It doesn’t matter if your camera sucks, if you don’t know anything about photography or if your photos never look the way you want them to. Creativity doesn’t require quality.
What’s the most complicated way to take a self-portrait in your house? How could you look at everyday objects in a different way? Could you take a mirror outside and use that in your photos? Or could you take a garden gnome for an adventure and take pictures of that? Just have some fun and don’t overthink it. (P.S. My post about finding adventure where you are has a whole list of photography ideas you can do outside without even going very far.)
19 / Make a cartoon version of yourself
I’m definitely not suggesting this because I wanted to procrastinate writing this post by making a cartoon version of myself… I would never.
You don’t have to settle for making yourself, you know. You can create a character from your novel or that guy you had a dream about last night. Just google “avatar maker” and choose whichever site strikes your fancy.
20 / Create a vision board for the life you want to live
You don’t have to believe in magic or manifestation to create a vision board, because there is nothing inherently “woo-woo” about creating goals for yourself in picture form.
Think about what you want from life. How can pictures represent what you want? Do you know what your dream house looks like? What does success or unconditional love look like to you? This exercise doesn’t just boost your creativity, but the end product can serve as a powerful reminder of what you’re aspiring to do and have. As a creative entrepreneur, that’s priceless to me.
21 / Build a scale model of your house out of materials you have in your home
You probably have a cardboard box lying around somewhere in your house, don’t you? It’s time to put it to use. You can use more cardboard to make furniture, scraps of fabric for curtains or carpets, pieces of pasta for art – anything you can think of. Looking at random stuff in your house with new eyes is totally a fun way to boost your creativity.
If you don’t want to make your own home, you could make a tiny Hogwarts, Joey and Chandler’s place from Friends or your ideal home.
22 / Make a collage
I know I’ve already suggested a couple different picture boards, but this time we’re making a strictly physical collage instead of a digital one.
You can choose a theme for your collage like pink items or spooky things, or you can try and make a piece of art by creating another picture with the pictures. Just get a stack of magazines from somewhere and start cutting out pictures or even words. If you don’t like the end result, just stick it into your recycling bin and enjoy the results of your creativity inside your head.
23 / Make a fairy garden
This requires that you have a backyard or at least a balcony. Fairy garden is a tiny, decorated garden that a fairy could live in, and it can include things like decorative mushrooms, tiny statues and cool pebbles. Combine it with another way to boost your creativity we’ve mentioned here like photography to turn it into a bigger project!
24 / Fill a notebook with inspiring quotes
When I say “inspiring quotes”, I don’t want you to think of worn-out cliches like “make every day count” or “you are enough”, because I felt icky just writing them. Quotes that you find inspiring can be by artists or thought-leaders you admire, but they can just as well be from your favourite TV show.
This activity has a double benefit because not only is looking for the quotes inspiring in itself, but then you can use the collection to squeeze out some creativity again in the future.
25 / Learn something new on Skillshare
I know I’ve already suggested watching videos to boost your creativity, but I just really like Skillshare because of the wide variety of topics you can learn there. Although I love Creative Live as well, Skillshare is the more affordable option.
Whether you want to learn a new craft or you want to learn how to share your existing skills with the world, Skillshare’s got you covered. It is a paid subscription, but if you use my link, you’ll get 14 days free! (I will get a free month if you turn into a paying customer, but I do not earn money and I am not an affiliate – anyone can get a link to share with their friends.)
What are your favourite ways to boost your creativity? Have you tried some of these and how did it go? Let us know in the comments!