Today, I woke up feeling breathtakingly blah.
Not terrible—not great: I was teetering on tall heels in that frustratingly bland middle ground.
As I wiped the sleep from my eyes, I only grew more uninspired.
That hint of mediocrity expanded into a very large, all-too-palpable “meh.”
My imagination, my ideas, my innovativeness: has it all dried up?
I feel like a useless, shriveled raisin.
I don’t fucking like this. (Actually, I do like raisins, but I’d rather not feel like one.)
Typing this right now feels so hard. I feel like I can’t find the right words. They aren’t pouring out onto the page. I’m painstakingly and awkwardly setting each letter down, one by one.
Fuck—I’m on the verge of a creativity crisis.
When inspiration is a million miles away?
When creativity doesn’t even feel like an option?
We don’t have to beat ourselves up or freak out or scream at ourselves to just “write/paint/dance/sing through it.” (Okay, yes I did that first—talk about adding insult to injury!).
But, in finding what didn’t work, I found what did.
Here are my absolute favorite, top five, go-to creativity boosting tips. They will get you out of that rut quicker than you can imagine:
1) Don’t force it/no pressure.
This is so important! Gentle encouragement: yes. Violent forcing: no. It can be tough to navigate the ups and down of the creative process. But, we cannot always be in full bloom: it’s exhausting. Sometimes, we desperately need to curl back into a tight bud so we can bloom again, even bigger and more breathtaking the next time. Rest. Recharge. Relax. Savor it completely. No guilt.
2) Maybe the inspiration we need is out there—not in here.
Meaning: get the fuck out of your head! Do something in the outer world. It’s easy to get so lost in thought that we start to float away. Nature is always a great source of beauty and grounded inspiration for me. Or coffee with a friend. Or a yummy dessert while people watching. Or an adventurous day trip. Sometimes, just getting out of our routines and going somewhere new and unfamiliar can re-ignite that delicious creative spark.
3) Think out of the box—try something unexpected.
Sometimes we get in such a rut with our creative routine, it starts feel stiff and robotic: not exactly the breeding ground for inspiration! Mixing it up can free our minds, reminding us of the joy and spontaneity in the creative process. Try anything! It doesn’t matter if you’re “good” at it, the goal can just be fun and experimentation. Here’s a few ideas to get started:
*Are you a dancer? See how it feels to write a poem.
*Are you a writer? Do a messy hands-on craft project.
*Are you a musician? Cook an elegant meal.
*Are you a designer? Get down and dirty with some crazy finger painting.
*Are you a painter? Put on some music and let your body move, move, move.
4) Speaking of music…
*Do you have certain songs that inspire you?
*Tracks you haven’t heard in awhile?
*Tunes that remind you of a certain period of your life?
Compile a kick-ass playlist and play it loud.
Today, I pieced together a playlist from my college years. As I blasted the songs, loud as I could stand, my mind was flooded with so many memories. And, just that different perspective got me feeling a bit less “meh.” It shook things up in this crazy brain of mine, and made room for a little creativity to sneak in.
5) Checking in with ourselves: creating from our struggles.
I sometimes become so immersed in creative projects that I lose touch with my feelings. I forget that I am actually a person, not just a creating machine. Posing a few questions can really lead me back to myself, and I can then draw on my struggles/triumphs/joy/pain for artistic inspiration.
*What’s going on with me today? How am I? Am I pissed off? Sad? Happy? Angry?
*What color does that feeling remind me of? What does it taste like (bitter, acrid, sweet, etc)? Feel like (hard, soft etc.)?
*What am I craving today? What do I need more of? Less of?
*If I close my eyes, and take a long, deep breath, what’s the first thing I see? Feel? Hear?
*What word describes exactly how I feel today?
For me, these questions sparked my idea to write this article.
Funnily enough, it felt incredibly good to channel my frustration about not feeling creative into a creative project.
I hope these ideas will spark something for you, too.
But always, always, always remember: no forcing, no tugging, no pulling.
That kind of pushing is often the killer of creativity.
Every day is different.
Every day we are different.
We must try to relax into what is happening for us today.
And, if all else fails, hiding under your coziest blankets until tomorrow is not the worst option, either.
Who knows, those comfy covers could uncover great inspiration!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: MURAL GUAMA at Flickr