What to Do When Inspiration Has Vanished

Artists and writers can find inspiration in the most unusual things.

Van Gogh painted a scene while he was a patient in the Saint-Paul Asylum. He was not allowed to paint in his room, so he painted outside the next day from memory. It goes without saying that Vincent had many obstacles to overcome to get his paintings done. His inspiration came from just what he saw in front of him.

Edgar Alan Poe wrote  The Raven about thoughts that haunted him at night.

Both Van Gogh’s and Poe’s pieces became wildly famous even though the subject matters were very ordinary.

However, there are times in our lives when the spark of creativity seems to have blown out for good. If you fear that this has happened to you, there are things that can relight a spark, even if it’s a tiny one. And then a small idea can grow into a large idea if it is nurtured.

Pencil and Paper

If you don’t sketch on a regular basis, I recommend you begin. You don’t have to buy fancy pencils or sketchbooks – unless these motivate you to draw.

Keep a pencil (any pencil) and paper (any paper) by the phone, in the kitchen, by your bedside, in the car, in your purse, jacket pocket, backpack and any other place where you can pull them out and spend a few moments drawing.

When you are just sitting, talking on the phone or waiting in the car for someone, sketch a tree, a book, the dashboard of the car, whatever is in front of you or something from memory.

Depression Versus Creativity

An artist who suffers from depression has a very difficult time getting back in the swing. The brain needs a certain level of peace to be at its creative best. Depression can cloud the mind and leave us wanting to do nothing at all.

For the normally creative person, not creating regularly can deepen the depression. A sense of loss or failure can add to an already bad situation.

Try scribbling out a head. Any head.

Pushing though by doodling or sketching a simple thing can be the start of a comeback. You don’t have to create a masterpiece. Just loosen up the mind to think on other things for a few minutes – a pretty leave and its vein patterns, a feather, a fairy, a license plate, a piece of bread, a blade of grass… Any random thing, real or imagined.


When you just can’t find inspiration, try redoing something you’re proud of. When your creatives self is struggling to create don’t alter the size of what you are reproducing. Just allow your hands and mind to redo something you have done in the past that came out nicely. If your reproduction comes out good, give it as a gift to a friend or organization. When we bless others we seem to feel blessed, too.

Change Something

When inspiration can’t be found, try switching something up. If you normally paint with acrylics, switch to oils to learn how they feel to work with.

Or change the size of something. If you are a carver, try carving miniatures or something larger than you have tackled before.

If you are a potter, step out and try a piece you have never tried before. Or go miniature and make a doll house tea set.

If you sketch, try something other than what you normally sketch. Or try a different technique. Sketching Scottie allows us to share his videos, so I will do so here. Sketch this portrait 10 times and compare your first sketch with your tenth:

Take an Art Course

I love taking art courses, both online and offline.

Find an artist who is doing what you want to do. See if that person teaches and, if so, jump in. This is a great way to treat yourself during the times when creativity refuses to flow.

Rearrange Your Studio

During times when inspiration has dried up, you can still be productive by improving the lighting in your workplace, organizing your supplies, taking inventory of what you need to buy and so on.

A clean, organized workplace can be inviting. If it calls to you, put some color on paper or canvas. Anything at all. Keep working and reworking it until you get that old urge to create something from within you.


Feeling that you have lost your creative spark is no fun. It feels discouraging and hopeless. Forcing it to return feels overwhelming and impossible.

But it is not impossible to grab a pencil and sketch anything – your coffee cup, an imaginary flower, a bird on the cover of a magazine. Anything.


Download this sketch (save image as) and try it yourself. Feel free to trace it, color it, whatever:

All the images on this page are copywrite-free. except for the video. Save the still images, copy them, sell them and enjoy!

Do you sketch? If so, what?

If you are a Skillful Artist Member, send in your favorite sketch and we’ll put it up on this page to share. You may include the name of your sketch and your contact information, if you want to.

Whether you are a member or not, add a comment below, telling us what you do when you can’t find any inspiration for a new piece.