As with any endeavor sometimes within creative work we find our pursuits have suddenly shifted from a raging fire of motivation down to dying embers at the bottom of an uninspired ashy pit. And though we can see that last flicker of glowing red among smoldering black, we walk away and let the remaining coal burn out.
It takes more effort to light a new fire than it does to toss a log on an old one. Really. It does.
If you disagree with me and you’re constantly ditching unfinished projects and sparking different ones with ease, it could be (now bear with me) that you actually have some unresolved mental and emotional blocks that keep you from being successful. That’s the first place I’d start. You can read more about my journey here and here.
But what if you’ve done the work? What if you don’t plan to give up your project, but that wick you first ignited keeps getting shorter and dimmer, and all you want more than anything is to take a flipping break and watch some T.V.?
It’s true that taking a day or week off doesn’t have to mean you’ve given up your goals entirely. So long as that week doesn’t become a month, doesn’t become a year, doesn’t become…
How can we keep that little flame going while giving ourselves some much-deserved R&R? I’ve got a few ideas.
- Try a different craft. The cool thing about creativity is that it’s definitely not linear. If you are right-brained, you know that it typically functions more like paint splattered on a canvas. Your brain doesn’t think in a straight line, so why limit your creativity to one? If you’re a writer, paint. If you’re an artist, try writing. A dancer? Maybe photography. You get the picture. The sky is the limit.
- Start a quick project. Do something you can begin and end in an hour or so. Flash fiction. Blog post. Water color. Whatever your craft, do a mini-project so you can feel like you’re still exercising your talents while getting a break from your larger project.
- Think outside the box. For writers: make an outline; write up a character sheet; write a backstory for a character or location of which you don’t plan to add to your story; or make a mind map of your plot. For other crafts maybe design a plan for your current work, but with some alterations.
For Physical Self-Care
- Exercise. If your body is stagnant all day, your brain will be too. Go for a walk or jog or whatever you enjoy. If you enjoy nothing… well… you should do something. Garden, vigorously clean your house, chase your kids, dance. Aim for at least 30 minutes of intentional movement every day. I promise, exercise will give you a better boost of mental energy than another sugary caffeine drink. While you’re at it, try standing while you work. For me, standing helps keep the juices flowing when I’m tired and just want to veg out.
- Yoga. Obviously, as a yoga teacher, I am a huge proponent of yoga for enhancing creativity. Check out some of my previous classes. And check out my upcoming class, Yoga for Creative Fire! What a coincidence. *Release on Friday, June 12.*
- Eat well. If you’re tired and you’re not eating well, that’ll dull your light. Eating poorly looks different for different people. Obviously too much processed carby, sugary food will make anyone drop like a fly. But so will not eating enough calories or balanced meals. Search balanced plate: ½ plate of fruits/veggies, ¼ starches/grains, ¼ protein and a drizzle of healthy fat.
- GO TO BED.
- Human interaction. Most places are slowly starting to come out of this lockdown. If the virus is still a concern, I recommend going on a social distance date with a friend. Get some takeout, sit in your cars with the windows rolled down or sit on opposite ends of a picnic table and have a good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation! We can get so focused on all the things we need to create that humans become last on our lists. But humans are good and a bit of interaction can re-energize you.
- Binge Watch. When all else fails, maybe you just need to have a solid night or two of T.V. Give yourself permission to catch up on your favorite show. But make a plan and a promise to get back to it.
Some people still comment on blogs right? If that’s you, how do you get yourself out of a creative valley?