Stay Creative This Spring Break

by Emily Cantor

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

“Silhouette of a man reading by the ocean” (Kamil Porembiński/Creative Commons)
“Silhouette of a man reading by the ocean” (Kamil Porembiński/Creative Commons)

It’s been a long winter of below-freezing temperatures, snow, and that signature Storrs wind that we all love to hate. But Spring Break is approaching quickly and it’s bringing exactly the kind of weather you need to get out of that creative slump you might have been in the last few months. Whether you’re a writer or an artist, or just want to get back into the creative process, here are some easy ways to seek out inspiration next week:

Read

This probably goes without saying, but if you want to be inspired over spring break, try to read something every day. Make sure it’s something you want to read, and not something that’s been assigned for a class. If that means going to the bookstore and picking up something from the bestseller list, do it. If you’d rather stay home and reread the entire Harry Potter series, that’s ok too. The format of the material doesn’t matter: poetry, newspapers, and magazines are all excellent choices. Just make sure that you’re keeping your mind active by constantly taking in material that interests you.

Go Outside

The weather has been unseasonably warm lately, so take advantage of it! Go for a walk in the woods or down the street. Visit a local park, ride your bike, or go for a jog with some friends. Reacquaint yourself with the smell of warm air, the feeling of sun on your face, and the sounds of birds singing. Nature is an excellent place to find fresh inspiration for poetry or art. Plus, exercise has been proven to stimulate your brain into thinking more creatively, so if you’re lacking ideas the easiest thing for you to do is take a quick stroll around the block.

Branch Out

Even if writing is your passion, it can still be a struggle. Writer’s block is exhausting, and sometimes you might just need a break from the constant brainstorming and drafting. Instead of forcing yourself to finish something you’ve been working on, try and explore another creative outlet. If you write fiction, try poetry. If you write poetry, try painting. If you’re a painter, try writing. Alternatively, if you are both a writer and an artist, try something new entirely. Knitting, photography, cooking—there are endless possibilities that allow you to create something. Not only will these outlets give you a well-needed break, they might help you generate ideas for the creative activities you normally engage in.

Travel

Whether you’re flying somewhere that has beaches, or hanging out at home, try your best to visit different places over break. It’s easy to just stay inside and watch movies all day, but if you really want to get your creative juices going, you have to provide your brain with new environments to explore and process. If you’re able to travel hundreds of miles to a new location, take advantage of it. Absorb the atmosphere of the place you’re visiting. Pay attention to how it differs from what you’re used to. If your options are limited, try not constrain yourself to just a few places. Find a museum nearby that you haven’t visited yet. Rediscover the library you haven’t been to in ages. Exposing yourself to multiple surroundings can be incredibly useful if you’re trying to find a setting to paint or base a story in.

Take Time for Yourself

In the midst of all these creative activities, don’t forget what break is supposed to be: a break. If you’re feeling wrung out, make time for yourself to unwind. Take a nap, eat a snack, waste an hour or two zoning out in front of the TV. Don’t let the pressure of productivity consume you. You don’t have to be super creative and constantly producing masterpieces every hour. In fact, it’s actually healthier that you aren’t always on the clock. So when you leave for spring break, make sure you set goals for the kind of creative work you want to accomplish, but make sure that you’re also taking the time to relax. You deserve it.

Emily Cantor is a senior English major/Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies major with a concentration in Creative Writing. She is on the fiction panel at the Long River Review.


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