October 3, 2017
As creators, we have days where our minds are blazing — hopping from one project to the next with juicy words or shapes spilling from our fingertips. Other days? It’s sort of like rubbing two sticks together for hours and not producing even the smallest spark. Inspiration and motivation start to fizzle out, while our self doubt creeps on in and kicks its feet up. Whether this lasts for a few days, a few weeks, or longer, that lull in creativity is not only frustrating, it can be downright stressful. View creative energy stagnation as an opportunity for growth — a way to break through your own mental blockages and produce something even better.
But first, take some steps to get back into that freeflow mentality.
What’s that? Oh no, I definitely didn’t see that litter of puppies we walked by because I was too busy brain-spinning. Okay, maybe we wouldn’t miss something that cute, but often times we can get so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we forget the world is still moving around us. Stop. Slow down. Look around you. Life is inspiration – watch it! Pay attention to the old man reading his newspaper in the coffee shop, the way a tree sways in the wind, or even that tiny crack in the wall you’ve never seen before. Tap into the smaller details. Notice these everyday instances and take mental notes; ask questions or make up a story about why or how something is that way.
When is the last time you wrote without putting any thought into it? Set a timer for 5-10 minutes (longer if you want) to release the jumbled thoughts floating in your headspace. The sentences don’t have to be complete — and neither do the thoughts — the only rule is to NOT reread what you’ve jotted down. Once you’re done, take a break and come back to it. Then, read through your work and identify any recurring patterns or even discover a thought you didn’t know existed.
Seriously, if you’ve hit that “beyond frustration” mode, it’s time to get out of your head. Not only for your sanity, but also for your co-workers and loved ones. So, what does that look like to you? A walk out in nature, cleaning up your environment, taking a coffee break, trying a new fitness class, or maybe just switching to a new task! Come back to it the same day or even a few days later (if deadlines permit) with fresh eyes.
Who in your life inspires you? Go talk to them! Keep an open mind and chat it up with your best babe (or all of your babes), a family member, a respected co-worker, or your significant other. These conversations could be focused on working through your blockages, or instead, completely unrelated. An outside approach, and distraction, can help to shift your thought process.
When it comes to creative projects that require an audience, sometimes we can get so caught up on what we want to say, we forget about what we want to hear. Bring yourself back to the mindset of “how does this information benefit me?” and rework your ideas around that. Remember the emotions you want to evoke, and ultimately, the main message you’d like to get across.
As we know, social media is everyone’s highlight reel, but honestly, what better inspiration? Instagram is packed with intelligently organized content that displays the ultimate eye-candy. If social media browsing isn’t your thing, spruce up your knowledge on the latest trends through blogs, podcasts, and speakers in your industry. My favorites include Creative Mornings, TED Talks and scrolling photos on some feel-good feeds (GrlGngLocal, Darling Magazine, MindBodyGreen, and poets like Nayyirah Waheed…just to name a few). Find influencers that uncover tips and tricks to help steer you back on course.
Do you ever notice how creativity always comes riiiight as you drift to sleep? If it’s too good to pass up, you might need to turn on a light and catch it. Sometimes, as hard as we try, creativity comes knocking when it wants to, not necessarily when you want it to. Keep a notebook by your bed or take notes on your phone to capture that little spark! There have been too many times I’ve thought, “I’ll remember this in the morning” and don’t, so #sorrysleep.
Coffee it out….because those deadlines won’t meet themselves.
Even though a creative lull can feel a little scary, know the setback won’t last. Take time to tune in, sort it out, and uncover an even brighter expression of your work.
Light those ideas up, wild heart!