Craving Creativity?

By Kate Riley April 20, 2011

Another email from a reader landed in my inbox on a subject I think we all feel from time to time. 

Hey Kate, I’ve been in a slump lately, feeling overwhelmed and not at my creative best.  Wondering do you ever feel this way?  Where do you go to get inspired?  ~ Shannon

Hey Shannon, yep I go through those ‘dry spells’ too, usually when I’m tired, stretched too thin, and pulled in too many directions.  We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with images and information, where distraction is inevitable and focus becomes difficult.  Also, we all have responsibilities that can keep us from a few hours of creative time.  Everyone goes through creative slumps, but no worries.  I have a few tricks I use to get inspired, then it’s always back to the drawing board. 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to kick start creativity again: 

Visit Etsy and/or Big Cartel.  I am always amazed at the skills of the artisans in these two forums for handmade goods.  An afternoon spent browsing the designs on Etsy or Big Cartel is sure to inspire you, and also introduce you to a few designers that will quickly become favorites.  

etsy faves

Clay flowers by St Jude Creations; Love Birds by Vintage Green Limited; Cake Stands by High Tea for Alice.

Pinterest.   Are you a Pinhead?  I am!  Last year, I heard about this site through a few blogs, so I sent my request for an invitation.   Months went by and I hadn’t heard from them, and I was completely bitter that my request for an ‘invitation’ wasn’t accepted, and I began to feel inadequate.  What’s wrong, why not me?  Then I did a search of my inbox.  Hello?  It was sitting right there. 

Pinterest is an image driven virtual pinboard where you can mix and mingle with like minded peeps by following them, and also ‘pin’ your favorite ideas.  There are a lot of sites out there that can be time sucks, but this one happens to be a favorite place of mine to spend 5 or 10 minutes a day.  Someday, I’ll figure out a way to catalog my favorites on my own site, but for now, Pinterest is the place to be!  

pinterest picks


Print & Online Magazines.  There is so much room inspiration to be found in the galleries of established decorating sites, or on the pages of online magazines.  Some of my favorites are Country Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Style at Home, Elle Décor, House and Home, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart, Lonny, Rue and Adore.  Visiting these sites also introduces you to the hundreds of brilliant professional interior designers and their portfolios.

Bookstores.   Every month or so, I schedule a few hours to head to a bookstore with a coffee in hand, and I make a beeline for the architecture, design, and do-it-yourself departments.  Often, I’ll spurge on a new text I’ve been eyeing for awhile to add to my growing library. 

Blog Hop Around Your Favorite Niche.   Blogs are quickly replacing print magazines in a lot of ways because they offer instant access to unique voices and individual creativity.  My favorite way to start my day is to sit down with a cup of coffee and read blogs.  I love seeing what everyone else is up to, and I don’t have to wait for the ‘latest issue’ of a print magazine to arrive in my mailbox, I simply open my reader.  Reading blogs gives me great ideas, makes me laugh or teaches me things I didn’t know.  Blogs are another way to get inspired, be part of a community, and live vicariously in each other’s lives.

blogs and coffee madebygirlvia

Retail Therapy.   I don’t mean go out and run up your credit card, I mean grab a ‘To Go’ beverage and take an hour or two to window shop or browse the inside of some of your favorite stores, just to see how other designers are using color, texture and pattern to create interesting vignettes. 

anthro windowvia

Flea Markets + Antique & Craft Fairs + Art Galleries & Museums.  Talk about creativity on adrenaline, when you go where the dealers and artists are, you are sure to find inspiration among the collectors and most creative people in our world.  Take a few hours on the weekend to browse an antique fair or art gallery, it always works for me!

antique fair


Take a Class.  So often, the key to increasing creativity is to learn something new.  Look into the courses offered in your area, whether it’s painting, sculpture, cooking or photography.  Educating yourself with basic skills on a subject matter enhances your ability to expand on your innate creativity. 

pottery class


The Great Outdoors.  Fresh air and exercise always works wonders for me.  Whether it’s hiking nearby, going for a run, exploring a new destination near or far, or driving to the coast to feel the sand between my toes, getting away from the computer and exploring the outdoors is always a place to witness amazing color and texture, and rediscover your creative voice and energy.


Decluttering.   Cleaning out a room is a sure way to clear the mind.  Purging your home of what is meaningless, and storing away life’s real treasures will give you room to breathe again.  Try it!  Take on one cluttered space in your home, remove anything that isn’t meaningful or beautiful, and let it be.  Clutter is a creativity blocker, so once you get rid of it, the clouds part, and you’ll find your mind is clear again to create. 

white office via myidealhome


Don’t Fear Failure.   This is my story for this past week! I’ve had a few craft/idea fails, nothing to write about, but each one of them taught me what not  to do.  I accept that, and move on.  I channel my best Scarlett O’Hara and say “Tomorrow is another day”. I’ll just keep creating and something good will come from my efforts eventually!

creativity quotevia


Take Time Off.    It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of having to write or create something fabulous every day, but be wary of adopting that attitude, it will stress you out and leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated or inadequate.  

empty hammock

Very few artists, designers, and bloggers have the ability to knock it out of the park every single day, so don’t compare yourself and your abilities.  Quality is always better than quantity, so take the time off to recharge and replenish your creative abilities in order to produce your best work.  Sometimes you just need a nap and a fresh start! 

Where do you go when you are in a creative slump and crave inspiration? 

What are your favorite sources?





  1. This post is just what I needed to read! I’ve been feeling so frustrated because I haven’t been “knocking it out of the park” everyday. I know it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to create something beautiful every single day but, as you said, it is easy to get caught up in DIY and blogging! Thanks for sharing Kate!

  2. great post, and a great reminder that creativity should come naturally. I often forget that trying to “force” it just doesn’t work haha

  3. Great post! Thank you for linking all your favorite spots to visit and for Pinterest! What a cool idea!! I just requested an invitation from them.

  4. This is such a great post. I really need to declutter. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. L O V E D this post!

    I know just what you mean about information overload abounding this day in age! Whew, there’s so much to take in that it is so easy to loose focus and get distracted… {SQUIRREL!!!} from the things that really matter or that are usually your natural passions.

    I SO enjoy Pinterest!

    ps – have you seen the movie UP? i hope so or that { } bit may sound a tad crazy. :)

  6. well, I’m at the opposite inroad, I am OVER stimulated with SO MUCH I want to do that a. I spend my time looking at all the things I WANT to make, and b. I am afraid to spend the time creating something .. I might miss something else I would want to make.

  7. Wonderful post on this topic! You’ve given me some ideas, and my favorite ways to recharge and get inspired are to take a long walk and take a long hot bath. :) Quite time, lets the mind wander and find inspiration! Janell

  8. Can you be more specific about the source for the white office picture in the decluttering section? I am looking for a piece of furniture like the console/hutch combo there and would love to find it!


  9. What a great post! I always feel like it is feast or famine with creativity. The more productive and organized I am in other aspects of my life, the easier it is for me to create. That said, purging always helps me! Thanks again for the inspiring post!

  10. Hey Holly, I found that image over at a blog called My Ideal Home. While I habitually link to image sources, regrettably, I don’t have the original source for that one. Can anyone out there help Holly out?

    ~ Kate

  11. I’m in a creative slump myself. When I’m in the Still Winter slump I do not buy a thing! It’s only a quick fix and usually something I will quickly fall out of love with. I clean and declutter instead. I love the metaphor of decluttering my surroundings to declutter my foggy brain. I alway find stuff I forgot I had so it’s like free shopping :) I also find stuff to repurpose – free project materials!

  12. What a great post. It is something we all struggle with from time-to-time and when it hits we think we will never be creative or energetic or motivated again. You have come up with a great list of ways to help jumpstart the motivation.

  13. This is an excellent post, Kate. I think you pretty much hit every single avenue one might take to bring back some of that creativity. I loooove going to the bookstore (by myself!!) to browse. The quiet time alone is recharging to me, even if I don’t find a book to fall in love with. I also get inspired to work on projects after being in friends’ homes. Seeing their spaces makes me rush home to clear all the toys and clutter out. ;)

  14. Thanks for this post Kate! I can absolutely relate to Shannon about feeling like I’m in a slump. It happens from time to time and you just gotta keep on truckin! :) Finding sources of creativity definitely helps. In fact, your blog is one of my sources of daily inspiration! I love the topics you blog about and really enjoy seeing all of your projects. I really enjoyed this post too. Thanks again!

  15. I love the “don’t fear failure” – so true and yet so hard to really embrace. Thanks for your constant inspiration!

  16. Generally when I hit a creative wall, I find it is because my energy was been zapped by the circumstances, or people (!) in my life. I can usually get recharged by calling my good friend who has the same slightly twisted sense of humor. An hour of back and forth mindless, but certainly lively laughter and chatter (a glass of a good red wine is always helpful, and really essential, in my opinion) always revives the inner Decoratoring Diva that I am.

    “Plan B” is to visit a friend, or two in their own homes. My eyes absorb the colors and objects in their spaces while we talk. I find myself appreciating their ideas, and I come home inspired every time.

  17. Great ideas Kate, the only thing is…I get so many ideas from most of the ones you mention and I can’t focus on just one thing haha. No better inspiration than Anthropolgie, those people knock my socks off with their displays. My favorite Borders closed recently, we have a Barnes and Noble but it just isn’t the same. I hope this isn’t what is to come with book stores, it would be a shame. Great post.

  18. What a great post. I was feeling this way last week….and then BAM ideas ideas..exercise definitely seems to get my brain flowing too… I am THAT crazy girl on the elliptical tying away on my phones notepad haha! You really gave some great suggestions thank you! ..

    Delighted Momma

  19. Excellent post Cate. Well thought out and smartly done. I agree wholeheartedly. Big thumbs up. :-))

  20. Thanks so much for this post. I know I can get so caught up in the “I need to do do do” mode that I become stressed and don’t enjoy what I am doing and for me at least it is hard to be creative and stressed at the same time.

  21. Great advice….I especially like the idea of taking a class. And decluttering also does it for me, even though it might take a bit to jumpstart my enthusiasm for that one. I also get the best creative sparks during my daily walks. Thanks for telling me about Big Cartel, too; I will need to check it out. Speaking of checking things out, I wanted to invite you and yours over to “my place” for a GiveAWay of porcelain enamel house numbers from Denmark. Have a good weekend, -susan

  22. My kitchen is what I struggle with the most. It’s already “done” with cabinets and appliances that leaves little for personal style without a complete rehaul of the kitchen. Then when I decorate, there’s a fine line between clutter and decorated that I get quite frustrated. Always looks messy. Always lack personal style. Always feels undone. That is my struggle.

  23. I love your blog! And these pictures are truly inspirational – so creative, and exactly my style! I love the Anthropologie look – it’s my new favorite decorating and party theme. And the “I Love You, Blogs and Coffee” sign is TOO cute – I need that! Great post!

  24. I don’t know if it’s because I am 36 weeks preg and nesting but, this post REALLY made me want to paint my 3yo’s room.

  25. Hi Kate,
    You were talking about Pinterest on the above.
    Do I have to be invited first to be able to pin an image from a site ? I was able to put the pin it button on my Mozzila Firefox but when I try to pin an image a window appear saying I need an invitation. Is this the case ?

    BTW, I love your answers about “feeling slump/boring” on the above. I too recently feeling under pressure and did not know what to do day by day. I usually very creative though…..but yesterday I forced myself and went to Barnes and Noble, sitting and browsing the books and gets me excited going again ; as simple as that ! And when came home saw your above blogs, ohhh ; it really made my day. I love you Centsational Girl ! My favourite blog spot !

    Keep posting your creative, inspirational ideas !

    Thank you so much !

  26. Thank you, this is what I needed too!! You crossed that T and dotted that I for me with this post. Such inspiration today!! Have a great weekend

  27. What a great post. Thank you. I love all your ideas to become more creative or just to get out of a slump. I’ve been in a little bit of a slump myself, but I think I need to declutter my home office and my mind some more and then I will be back on track. Love pinterest!!!

  28. I totally echo your sentiments Kate. I do the same things to get creative with my favorites being the bookstore, a new retail store, and getting outside and walking the 3-mile trail of our local park. And I also make a point to not spend money, but get organized and declutter every so often. I am new to Pinterest and am HOOKED! I love your boards, so I’m happy that you shared some of your go-to sources here!

  29. Wonderful post. It is so easy to get wrapped up in blogging and and projects. You’re right that quality is better than quantity, sometimes I work slow and get frustrated I don’t have as many projects to post. Thank you for the tips, I am saving this one!

  30. Loved this post! When I find myself feeling stressed out and in a creative slump I often do some of the things you listed, but there were several new ones and I will have to give them a try next time! Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. I have sent out my request to Pinterest… will see how long it takes ;) Creativity for my new house… I need lots! Thank you!

  32. The city in which I live, is situated on two lakes. On one of the lakes is a beautiful large rustic store called “The Green Store”. In it you will find fabulous art, crafts, home decor items, yummy food stuff, garden decor and if that isn’t enough, they also sell ice cream and fudge!!! This is where I like to go for stimulation. The view of the lake ain’t bad either!

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