I think it is fair to say that we all have busy lives. You might have a full-time job while blogging next to it and trying to achieve your personal goals, like myself. Or you might be studying, having a part-time job, investing a lot of time in your personal relationships and maintaining a hobby, a creative outlet. In all possible different ways, we probably have one thing in common: it can feel like a lot.
Now when you are a writer, a blogger, or in any other creative field, you will know that your work heavily depends on your own inner creative voice. On normal, creative days it almost feels as if your creative voice, your muse, your inner goddess sings along all the time. But then other days the song all of a sudden stops. There is no sound to be heard anymore.
Over last few years, as I’ve been exploring blogging and writing more and more, I’ve been exploring my creative voice more and more as well. It seems to be my own sound deep within, whispering its story to my ear and helping me to find the right words as I am sharing my story here and on my blog. I’ve seen ebbs and flows of it and there have been a lot of times when my creative voice stopped talking and I found myself in a creative slump. I think it is fair to say that this can be really annoying. We know we want to get things done, and we know we want to create, write, draw but we simply can’t because we feel empty. The little song inside stops.
Since this has happened to me multiple times throughout the last three years of blogging, I made a commitment to myself this year to nourishing a deep relationship with my own inner voice. In fact, I like to call her my inner goddess. I know, it might sound funny, but it is helping me to see her in a much clearer light. It makes it a lot easier to think of our creative voice as a person as we are building up a relationship with, instead of just thinking of it as, a “something.” See what I mean? It doesn’t sound right without a name. Now while it is totally normal and okay to find yourself in a creative slump once in a while, there are also a few things you can do to get back into the swing of things.
Explore the why behind your creative slump
Before we dive into ways to overcome the creative slump, we need to take a moment to explore the why behind it. Just as people say that you need to define your why behind your goals, you also need to give yourself enough room to explore why you feel a certain way. It might be obvious: because you might lay sick in bed or because your are in the middle of your exams or because you just broke up with your boyfriend. Those are easy to identify. But other times it might not be as visible as that. If that’s the case, it’s time to turn inwards and explore what might be going on deep inside of you. There are lot’s of different ways to do so, you could talk to a friend, you could go on a long walk, you could mediate. Any way that has helped you in the past might help you again this time. The only goal here is to explore the why behind your creative slump. You might find a reason- great! Then you can do something about it. Or you might not find anything at first- no problem! Just be gentle with yourself, let it go and turn your attention to something else. Give yourself a break.
Don’t judge yourself
Over the years, I’ve found that there is one crucial element, not just in the case of a creative slump, but really for anything in life. And that is not to judge yourself. Don’t be to harsh on yourself. It is okay to find yourself in a creative slump. We all do. It is also totally normal that personal issues stand in the way of your creativity. It is all connected. You are not a machine. You are a human being and we all experience ups and downs in our life. So please stop beating yourself up about it. Which ultimately brings me to the next point…
Don’t push too hard
When it comes to work, achieving goals or working out, it would probably be good advice if I told you that you need to push yourself a little harder. But when it comes to your inner creative goddess, I strongly disagree. From my experience, whenever I pushed myself like, “come on Ronja, just write that freaking blogpost“ or “just push through,” I was blindly running around, making myself feeling completely uncomfortable and completely unaware of the why behind it. When you work with your creativity, you need to put on the gentle gloves. As I wrote before, to me it is a person, maybe even my best friends, and when did you ever push your best friend so hard? You probably didn’t. So don’t do it with your creative voice either. Always ask yourself: would I say that to my best friend? Would I do that to my best friend? If the answer is no, then don’t do it to your inner goddess.
To me this is one of the biggest little helpers. Whenever I find myself in a creative slump, I tend to get the urge to clean up my surrounding. Depending on the size of the creative slump, I might just have to pick up some clothes lying around, other times I find myself doing a whole spring cleaning. Sometimes when I sit at my desk and can’t get any word on paper, I find myself getting up ready to get some cleaning done, only to find my creative voice starting to sing the moment I step out of the door. I think for one it’s because of the motion, but it might also be that the moment you distance yourself from your work, you simply let go of the pressure that might be holding you back. Both ways are fine with me, as long as they are working. And as they always say: a clear surrounding equals a clear mind.
As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her book Big Magic – get moving. “And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.” I think she’s 100% right. So go clean the house, go on a walk, go on a run, exercise, ride your bike across the town. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, as long as you get moving and away from the desk, your studio, or any place you usually get your creative work done. And if the creativity still doesn’t come back? Try any of the other tips, move some more, and try again to explore the why behind it all. Maybe now you are ready to find out. Or you might just need a little vacation.
Allow yourself a vacation day
Now all of the tips listed above were geared to finding a way to quickly get the creativity back. But if all of those aren’t working, then it is time to give yourself a break, a real break. Not just 10 minutes away from your desk only to find yourself back in anxiety and fear that it will never get over. No, a real vacation. For a day or two, or even a weekend, close your laptop, shut the door to your office and allow yourself to let it be. Forget about your work. Get busy with other things. Do a little shopping, plan some nice dinners, grab a coffee with your best friends, take a yoga class. Give your mind and your inner goddess a little break. Let your soul wander. Recharge and unwind. Relax and have fun. And only then, return to your office.
In the end you need to trust. You need to trust in your creative instincts. You need to trust that your inner goddess is still there. She will come back. And more often than not, in moments that you least expect it.