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  • Writer's pictureMaking To Make Happy

Where has my creativity gone? | How to be creative when you're not feeling it

It's great when creativity is flowing easily, isn't it? But it's pretty frustrating when it's not. When we are in creative lull periods we tend to give ourselves a bit of a hard time about it. We wonder "what's wrong with me?" and the focus of that stressed attention zoning in on the issue only magnifies it.

What is easy to forget - and what I hope we can try and remind ourselves of - is that creative lulls are normal. They are part of the creative cycle and are totally OK.

Creativity, from my experience, operates in waves.  It rolls and moves, it changes and evolves. But despite all of its many faces, the reassuring feature of it is that it's always there. Its only consistent element is that it never disappears - it just shows up differently.

Of course, it can often feel like it's done a runner. I think it swings an invisibility cloak over its shoulders from time to time, just to give us the impression it's nowhere to be found. Or raids the dressing up drawer in order to sneak under the radar. Cheeky creativity.

But I also think it simply needs its rest. I like to imagine it sitting in the basements of our brains sometimes, with it's feet up and a nice warming beverage, just chilling. All types of energy need re-charge time.

an illustration of a creativity character snoozing backstage

When any of us are feeling quieter - when we are letting ourselves pull away from the world a little in order to re-fuel our energy levels - all we can do is hope the ones who are waiting for us on the outside will have faith that we'll re-emerge. Keep the faith in your creativity's presence - it's always inside you, even when it's nestled down deep in seeming-hibernation.

Remember that creativity levels can be affected by our physical and mental health too.

When our bodies are going through stress or change, it can be challenging to do anything but focus on the immediate impact of that. For example, extreme tiredness can make our bodies just want to sleep days away, and the feelings of un-productivity and creative sadness that can spark from that is so frustrating. When factors like this come into play, our creative cycles shift again.

Our creative cycles will be changing throughout our whole lives, due to various different reasons. The more we learn; the older we get; the time we have to play; the people we share it with; the health we navigate; the results we get; the things which make us curious... We will not be static creatures, and neither will our creativity be.

Most of the time, I try to work with the cycle I have right now as best I can. When I do have a bunch of activity going on in my brain I try to note it down - so that when I am in a future quieter creative patch I can reach for inspiration from my previous excited self.

Want to do something creative, but you're stuck in a lull? Here are three things to try:

🟡 Make it simpler. Rather than trying to push forward on a project with more moving parts, pick up something simpler. For example, grab just one type of medium (like paint or marker pens), and one piece of paper, and start plopping some marks down on it. Some movement is better than none, and the action of it will nudge that sleeping creativity a bit.

🟡 Make it about the doing, not the ending. Focusing on results when you are feeling the Lull is a recipe for disappointment. Stressed making is not enjoyable. Make the process of creating a more comforting experience so you can relax into it easier. Gift yourself a pocket of time where you can put on a podcast or some music in the background, close off the distractions and switch your mind into "ahhh" mode.

🟡 Re-direct and look around. When I am knocking against a closed creative door, I find it really helpful to pivot. Not away from creativity, but towards one of its many versions. You may have always found you enjoy one particular creative outlet, but that doesn't mean it is your only option forevermore. You may not realise it, but you have infinite creative possibilities inside you - so if one string on your bow needs a bit of a rest, maybe it's time to explore other creative adventures and expand. Perhaps you'll start a journal (even if only for a few days!), maybe you'll go bake a cake. Going to visit a new place can give your brain something different to ponder on... and it's amazing how thinking about something different can lead you back to new ideas about your original creative loves.

If you need a bit of inspiration, check out the video below. I made the art in it while feeling veeeery tired, and I had sat for at least 45 mins before doing it, just staring and not being able to get my brain into gear for the project I had actually intended for that day. So I changed course. By giving myself a really limited brief (to try and paint a face using just a piece of cardboard) I was able to reduce the amount of decisions I'd need to make, focus the ones I still had left and create something I wasn't expecting...

Thanks for reading!

Keep Making Happy,

Gemma 💛


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