Balance #4: Work, rest and play….How to stay creative and positive

According to Albert Einstein, “creativity is intelligence having fun”, and our September Balance talk, all about Work, Rest and Play: How to Stay Creative and Positive, explored how, as creatives, we can sustain our creativity – the juice we run on – to thrive in this so-called ‘new normal’.

Yet again we were joined by loads of curious and generous people from across the creative sector, all of whom were incredibly generous and shared lots of their own tips and insights, which you’ll find here too.

We covered a lot of ground – from how to apply creative thinking to complex problems, to why not paying attention can also be a form of work and how to be productive when you’re not working, as well as how to manage our energy to keep our minds fresh.


Here’s some we made earlier

First up, here’s the video of the whole thing. It lasts around an hour, so grab a cuppa (and maybe a notebook and pen) and get ready for some top tips on refuelling your creativity…

Meanwhile, if you want the edited highlights, do check out Sarah Singleton’s graphic illustration of our conversation, created live as she listened in from her studio in Essex.

A treasure trove of crowdsourced tips for unlocking your creativity

During the session we invited participants to share the things that unlocks their creativity and/or helps keep their creativity levels bubbling along. Here’s a summary of a VERY lively chat box….(with thanks to everyone who contributed, of course!

(Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi via Pexels)


  1. Exercise, in particular running has been my saviour through all of this. lt gives me head space, to mentally distance from home life and work.
  2. I love to start the day with writing my diary, even if it takes time from the tasks of the day.
  3. Time and space is our creative gold.
  4. Working/ playing with others (difficult at the moment, but some people have had good fun using the Zoom chat function to brainstorm and share ideas)
  5. Limitations can make you more creative and can be a nice place to start (eg. create short rehearsals in outdoor spaces with local musicians you’ve always wanted to work with but never played with before)
  6. Resisting the urge to be right!
  7. Begin as if you know nothing, in order to start your problem solving from a different place
  8. Create parameters for creative play: go for a walk and collect pictures/bits of RED/snippets of conversation
  9. Do something that is enjoyable, that relaxes you and your creativity will start to engage when it’s ready.
  10. Watering the plants changes the headspace – nurturing something else (very popular choice with our participants!)
  11. I have my best ideas whilst cleaning my teeth….I suppose a tedious task can free the mind….
  12. Use a medium different to my usual art practice, even if I think I’m rubbish at it. It gives me ‘mental distance’ from ‘my’ art practice and helps me to get over problems I’m having with a particular print/come up with a new technique.
  13. I really embrace an incubation phase in my projects, after an initial “big think”. What others might call ‘procrastination’ can often be the most useful part of my creative process, so I try not to be too hard on myself when I first start projects. Always working doesn’t always work!
  14. I started baking bread and call it ProCRUSTination! Baking feels more productive than clicking ‘send’ on another email… I’m sure my brain needs the physical information from the hands… (This reminded me of something that cartoonist Lynda Barry says: “In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits!”)


Good reads, views and other things some of us love!

(Photo by Thought Catalog from Pexels)


As ever, there was also some sharing of things we’ve read, seen or heard recently, so here’s a quick round up. Thanks again to everyone who shared…

Thanks also due to our generous funders for the series – Colchester Borough Council and the South East Creatives programme – and to our brilliant project partners, the Creative Industries Federation and Mindapples.

Like what (and who) you see and hear? Then come to our World Mental Health Day Balance OneDayer on 10 October

It’s World Mental Health Day on 10 October, and to mark it we’ve put together a Balance OneDayer, full of talks, workshops, coaching sessions (plus a living room disco!) designed to help artists and creative freelancers take better care of their minds.

Made in partnership with our friends at Mindapples and the Creative Industries Federation, they’re all entirely free; this day of events is our gift to you, built using what we know and have to share. The day is yours to dip in and out of, and you can book tickets for as many events as you like.

The day includes our next Balance talk, Turn & Face the Strange: embracing the future and staying true to yourself.

You can find out more the whole OneDayer programme HERE.