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This year has been hard for me creatively.
I just haven’t felt like making anything.
I’ve been doing a little knitting here and there, maybe a tiny bit of sewing and some mending.
But I haven’t felt inspired or really fired up to make anything. Or to write much.
Creative slumps happen to everyone, but that doesn’t make them any less difficult. Nor does the understanding that they will pass eventually.
There are some things you can try to survive a creative slump and, I hope, get out of it more quickly. There are no guarantees of what will work for you, but these things are certainly worth a try.
Is there a tiny project, or a small part of a project, that you could work on right now?
- sew a cloth napkin
- knit a headband
- fill a 4×4 canvas
- write a haiku
Make a little step forward. It might be a good idea to pull out an old project that you were enjoying but that you never finished and make a little progress on it. Or you might be in the mood to start something new. Just take a little action.
Do Something Fast
These two could be the same thing, if your small project is also one that doesn’t take a lot of time.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and do something.
- Flinging paint on paper
- Writing a poem
- Stitching random lines on a piece of fabric
- Making a collage
- Folding paper into an origami shape
It doesn’t really matter what you do or if it’s in any way related to the creative work you usually do. Just make a little something. When the time is up, walk away.
Do it again tomorrow.
Read Something Inspiring
Nothing makes me want to write like reading good writing. Whether it’s a long magazine article from the Atlantic or a beautiful novel, getting into words makes me want to put down some words of my own.
Even if you’re not a writer, reading something can cause you to want to create. You can read a favorite book about your craft or about creativity in general, a biography of an artist’s life, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Twitter feed.
You probably know what gets you fired up about life or about making. Go to those sources when you need them.
I know that sounds silly, but our exterior spaces often reflect our interior spaces, and getting one in order helps the other. I knew this when I chose to focus the beginning of my year of energy on clearing out spaces that have too long been too full of junk, but I truly realized the power of cleaning when I spent an afternoon cleaning off the girl’s desk and bookshelf.
It had been ages since the desk had been clear (early September, when we had her at-home birthday party, probably), and the shelf had gotten off-kilter and crammed with books and other stuff as often happens in a kids’ room.
It felt so good to clear that space, and even though it wasn’t my own desk, by the time she went to bed that night, I was on fire with different things I wanted to write about. Things I wanted to think about. Things I wanted to do.
It’s sort of a strange way to get your creative mojo back, but if all else fails, it’s definitely worth a try. The worst that can happen is you’ll have cleaned up a space that needed it. At best, you’ll come out of it raring to create.
(There’s probably something to the mindlessness of cleaning that gets your brain working on other things while you are doing it that would also be worth mentioning.)
Don’t Worry About it
I know it’s hard not to worry when you’re in a creative slump, but they really do pass.
If these recommendations don’t help, just give yourself some time. Maybe try yoga or meditation or long walks through your neighborhood.
Try a different kind of creative outlet, or a different kind of physical outlet, to jolt yourself out of your routine a bit.
And remember you are not alone.
What do you to survive a creative slump? I’d love to hear your ideas (and your go-to inspiration books, magazines, movies, etc.).