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What to do when you’re in a Creative Hiatus

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by | Feb 19, 2019

I have seen a lot of instagram posts discussing motivation recently and it has me thinking about the things that I do to get me back into that frame of mind. I also recently attended an event where this was the main topic of discussion, mostly focused on creatives finding their flare again but it is applicable to all. I have summarised a few of my favourites. “What to do when you’re in a Creative hiatus”

  1. Make something only for as long as you enjoy making it. I think this one is about not forcing yourself to do something you no longer enjoy. Obviously this requires a degree of flexibility, for example: if you don’t enjoy part of your 9-5 you can’t just not do it (your boss would have something to say I am sure). Think “what about this task do I not enjoy?” Could you swap the role? or is it the job in general. Sit down, have some quiet time and get to know yourself, then jot it all down on paper – or in your note taking app, if you’re a millennial like myself. It sounds touchy feely, but I promise you some quiet time noting down what you like and dislike, or maybe where you ideally want to be, will have your creative flair back in no time. 

  2. Focus on solving the actual problem vs. making something flashy or something you feel will win awards. Nothing stifles creativity more than trying to be something you’re not. If your idea/post/blog/programme wins awards fantastic, but that shouldn’t be your main goal or you will falter. No one starts an award winning idea with “I made this because I wanted to win this award” they have an award winning idea because they got out there and found the problems that people needed solved. Which leads to my next point…

  3. Get outside! If you are lucky enough to be able to travel, jump on that plane. If not, you don’t have to travel far. You can arrive somewhere new just by taking a ten minute bus journey. The important thing is, you remove yourself from your every day environment and just people watch: people-talk if you feel confident enough. What is their day like today? What has frustrated them? etc. Find the problems that need solved and focus on being the person to find that solution. Even if it isn’t an “exciting” problem: make what you want, not what the latest trend is (this way you will stick out from the crowd for the right reasons and not as a try hard, people see through that very quickly).

  4. Find representation, not for comparison but for inspiration. Is there a cool instagram account that normally has you reaching for your blog or pencil? Go there!

  5. Surround yourself with incredible people. Marie Kondo your friends list. Find people that inspire you, that celebrate your wins (big or small) as well as celebrate their own. Celebrate other peoples wins, it will make you feel fabulous. Has a friend been promoted? rocked their side hustle? Arrange a small get together to celebrate, even if it’s some cheese and wine at your flat or a bunch of flowers. People will appreciate it and you will feel inspired. It can also be really helpful to reach out to these people if you are completely jammed, open a dialogue and get some fresh insight. 

  6. Change your perspective, get out and about and do something. Take a yoga class, go for a walk somewhere new. Breathe!

  7. Don’t be afraid to fail. This is one of my big stressors, I constantly want to win and fear failure. If we don’t fail, how do we learn? Sometimes failure can be the biggest motivator. Don’t be afraid to fail and try something different, if it isn’t bringing you joy drop it like it’s hot! (again, within reason: I don’t want any angry bosses emailing me!)

  8. Give yourself space to linger, take yourself on a creative date. Don’t run with an idea immediately, give it time to settle and flow. 

  9. Take to a notepad and pen (or app and apple pencil if you’re feeling high tech) and write down the goal, or the problem. Break the solutions down, maybe use buzz words and place them on post its and then move the post its around until they “fit”. This can also help you to be prepared to defend your work!

  10. MAKE. It doesn’t have to be a program, if you are a software engineer, or a blog post, if you are a blogger, find your inner child. Make something with pipe cleaners, glue and lots of sparkles. Take up woodwork, learn to knit. Create something physical that you can enjoy and often the creativity will flow over into your every day. There was no hesitation as a child to make, whether it was drawings for your mum or a game with friends, try and harness that energy again! 

Hopefully some of these tips resonate with you, I particularly love number ten! We are always so afraid of something not being perfect, but if we lose that maybe we could create something incredible! It also worth noting that we believe the myth of a “strike” of motivation, as though lightning will bring us a brilliant idea. However, often motivation comes through doing. It is why writers are told to put pen to paper when feeling blocked, the energy will encourage motivation.

Do you have anything to get yourself out of a creative dip?