This post was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole
I have been trying to write my weekend post for a few days but nothing has been working. I have started a few articles. Some of wondered off on unrelated, and sadly uninspired tangents. A few have been added to my ‘need to develop’ file. Others might work for a collection of random ideas in a summary piece. A number of the promising starts just were not working for me – at least not yet. It seems that the only thing to do is let the ramblings take me where they want to go today and use this lack of creative stimulation as my starting point.
We’ve all been there. Looking at a blank canvas, or a pile of fabric or yarn, or a stack of wood, or an empty page or [insert the materials for your art of choice here] with nothing that is speaking to you. That is not to say there aren’t lots of projects at various stages of completion – there always are – but they too are failing to stimulate the creative juices.
So what do you do? How do you get to creating? For one thing, it does not help to be critical of yourself or your lack of productivity or ideas. That only adds to the pressure and consequently, usually contributes to lack of positive energy. Instead, find a strategy or two to shake it up and get started until the old passion returns or perhaps a new one arises.
Kick Starting the Process
You don’t need to wait for a big new idea to get moving. Sometimes inspiration has to be allowed to develop. Instead of waiting, you might try to:
Establish a routine
Schedule time every day or every week when you will commit to write, paint, draw, stitch, turn or whatever art you want to pursue. You will get better with practice of even 10 minutes at a time. Sometimes you will struggle to start but start and magic could happen. Force yourself to stick to the routine, even at times when it is a challenge.
Accept bad work
Not everything that you do will be a masterpiece or even up to your own standards. Think of it as a draft or a prototype or a design exercise. It doesn’t have to be a keeper but it will be work, practice and/or the source of potential future ideas. You don’t have to share it with anyone else. Free yourself to explore without the pressure of making great work.
Record inspiration when it strikes
Have one place where you collect ideas as they occur to you. Carry a sketchbook or notebook, or use your tablet or phone so you have it at hand when you are struck by something you see or hear or read. Get it down right away, as a sketch or description or list. That practices means you don’t have the frustration of trying to recapture the thought later but it also means that you have a place to start on days when you don’t know where to start.
Tackle a single artistic task
Make a list of small projects or steps that you can do with less time or thought. When I feel a little stuck, sometimes I find the best thing is to admit it and tackle something that I can do without much thought, get that off the list and perhaps even get motivated to do more.
Take a break
Get out for a walk. Do some exercise. Try a different activity. Write instead of draw. Draw instead of write. Throw walks in the water. Lie on the ground and look at the clouds. (NOTE: Take care not to do this during any scheduled time when you have committed to create. In that case, a break easily becomes procrastination or avoidance rather than a refresher.)
Look at a new resource
Pick up a book or pop online. Need a place to start? You might like on 50 Ways to Find Inspiration at TinyBuddha.com or 20 ways to overcome creative block at Creativbloq.com. Check out this Pinterest creativity search for more ideas and links
Share your Strategies
What do you do if the creative inspiration is not flowing? Do you work through it, find new inspiration or move on to other things? Share your ideas or favourite resources.