Academia Has Drained My Creativity: Here's How I Plan on Getting It Back

It's officially that point in the semester. All those November projects and papers that were due so far in the future are now creeping up on us, and it’s incredibly exhausting. Over my last two and a half years at Florida State, I have realized my creativity has been dwindling to almost nothing. Before I joined Her Campus, I could not remember when I wrote or read something for myself. Especially during this time, it’s essential to keep the fire of our creativity alive even if university classes are weighing us down. These are some steps I plan to take to do so, and I hope they inspire you to reignite your creativity as well.

1. Write freely and consciously 

Academia has done a fantastic job taking something so freeing as writing and then putting grading metrics on it. With so many rules and guidelines to follow, no wonder so many students become so opposed to writing. However, there are so many ways to engage in creative writing that will allow you to explore yourself and keep a clear mind. If you are more of a pen to paper kind of gal (or guy), bullet journaling, mind mapping or stream of conscious writing may be best for you. If you like typing more, there are so many sites you can express yourself on like Odyssey, Wattpad (iykyk) or apply to join Her Campus in the spring!

2. Read physical books for pleasure

Reading genuinely helps your creativity immensely and allows you to delve into a world beyond your own. If you're fortunate enough to be in a major that assigns good reading materials beyond a textbook, this may not apply to you as much. But, as a Marketing and Management Information Systems student, I do not have such luxuries. Therefore, I make it a point to read nonacademic literature semi-regularly to break the cycle. I also want to emphasize that if you can, try not to read these books on a digital device. Zoom and technology fatigue is real, so if you find yourself staring at a computer screen 12 hours a day, consider taking a trip to Barnes and Noble or reserving something at Strozier. 

girl journaling Photo by picjumbo_com from Pixabay

3. Go outside and connect with nature

With the same sentiment as reading physical books, going outside and changing your surroundings helps tremendously. Engaging all your senses in nature and unplugging allows your mind to wander and think, which can be scary but worth it. I hear so many testimonials from creatives, where they say they came up with their best ideas on long walks. So, there must be some level of truth to this tip. There is also not just one way to be one with nature. You can grab your headphones and go on a stroll, bring your journal (see tip No.1) and sit with your thoughts or bring your stressful, creativity-draining schoolwork outside for a burst of inspiration. Do whatever feels right to you at that moment and remember to breathe deeply when you are outdoors.

4. Find ways to make your schoolwork more fun

At this point, it’s the little things that make a difference. If you are absolutely overwhelmed with work, try to make the most of it and listen to what your body needs. (PSA: GPA really isn't forever). If you're writing notes, take an extra minute or two and draw pretty flowers or intricate color-coded headings. If you're doing math, make each step in your problems a different color. That has helped me learn concepts and looks super pretty when the problem is done. If you're typing an essay, do it in different colors or fonts; just be sure to change it back before submitting it. You get the picture. The entire assignment completing process doesn't have to be as dull as the final product. 

Creativity loss is one aspect of academia people don't really talk about, and I think it’s imperative to acknowledge this issue. Professors and universities are so focused on numbers that indulging in creative practices in noncreative fields is overlooked. Due to this, I encourage everyone to take up hobbies that enhance their inner creative or pursue a passion project. You are more than what you can produce for a 16-week course or temporary job. If you decide to partake in any of these tips, do it for yourself and your sanity. These are challenging times, be easy on yourself. 

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