Calling yourself 'creative' is hard to do.

Creativity and its transient nature mean that to be 'creative' is never a permanent state - it's flux; somewhere between a lot of thinking time, a flurry of action, crippling indecision, procrastination and production. The stages of making 'a thing', especially when you start creating, meander and double back on themselves infuriatingly often. It's why so often you hear about discipline and hard work, rather than that elusive fairy dust of a 'spark'. The first impulse that makes you want to take on this tumultuous action, to create.

If you find yourself in a creative role, it's likely that you'll, depressingly often, suffer the horrifying disconnect known as 'feeling uninspired'. And, whilst we'd all like to luxuriate in the time between creative ebbs and flows, life will demand in those dank periods that you continue to create.

Burnout is something I often suffer, as I write for pleasure, for work, and even mostly to stay close with family and friends as the people I love are so far apart. While they all require different levels of enthusiasm and varying amounts of concentration, the combination of all three can get a little draining. So, I try as often as I can to keep myself creatively 'topped up' when I'm busy. Here's how I do it:

CHANGE MY POINT OF VIEW
I adore museums. I really do. I can happily while an afternoon away surrounded by sculptures and history, trotting around to my heart's content. Where I don't do so well is galleries - I love the idea of them, but I sometimes find art a little alienating or, I'll admit it, boring. I don't find the same joy in art as others do, but I'm always willing to appreciate it if I can drag a willing volunteer in tow. Some of my favourite afternoons at uni were spent meandering around Tate Liverpool - the art on display sometimes resonated, sometimes didn't, but I always felt kind of refreshed after heading there. I think getting out of your own head and trying to get into the mindset of someone else does really good things when you're trying to 'make' a thing of your own.

... OR HEAD TO A CREATIVE 'HOME'
For me, one of the most inspiring places will always be the theatre. It doesn't matter if it's a play, a musical - even a ballet - I find so much fulfilment in watching a piece of work on stage. It can feel like a bit of a 'default', returning to something you've loved so often before, but getting back to your 'roots' and what originally inspired you towards creating in the first place is often one of the most rewarding routes back into inspiration. And sometimes it can be unexpected, or reach you in new ways - watching Ballet 422 on Netflix was such a huge kick up the bum for me - I felt so full of ideas afterwards!

TAKE A VACATION
I know, it's not always as easy as 'I'm feeling creatively low, I'm going to go on a trip', but if the means are available to you - travelling is one of the fastest ways 'in' to giving yourself a boost creatively. There's a reason they say travel broadens the mind. Experiencing new cultures, sights, smells, being immersed in a world outside your own does amazing things for the soul.

MAKE USE OF MY COMMUNITY
Online and in-person. Blogs, Insta, Pinterest - the internet has never been so full of content to get your juices flowing. Reaching out to collaborate, pitching to an online publication you admire, or just creating to a brief as though you were working for your favourite blogger. If online community isn't your thing, surround yourself with those friends who make you buzz. You know, the ones who fill you with joy and excitement to be around, who you always seem to be having adventures with, even when you don't mean to. Get outside of your own head and let them plan a day for you both, bring a camera or a notepad, and play. One of my favourite days this year has to be this best friend day that my best girl planned for my birthday. Spontaneous, fun, and action packed, I was so excited to jump back into blogging after this!

LIVE IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
Much the same as travelling, I find that listening to French music, or watching a film with subtitles, or even indulging in some KPop (seriously if you haven't heard TT what are you doing?) changes my perspective and shakes up my 'same old same old' headspace so much. The aesthetic is different, what we accept culturally as 'funny' or 'desirable' or 'trendy' is no longer the norm, and you're forced to consider a whole other set of artistic values. I also find more inspiration in language when I'm speaking in another - I'm currently learning Italian through Duolingo and it's giving me such a passion to speak and write! I don't know why - it must be that whole love of etymology surfacing again. Nerdy!

READ, READ, READ. THINK. WRITE.
This was a piece of advice given to me in high school by my English teacher and it has never left me when I find myself stuck for inspiration. What it means to me is - immerse yourself in as much of your art as possible. Consider and form your opinion or point of view. And then shut up, and DO the damn thing!

2 comments

  1. It is certainly testing to be a 'creative' - more than I've ever realised (hence my growing collection of cliche 'don't give up' esque tattoos, ha). There are not too many feelings worse than the nagging uninspired feeling. It's unsettling, to say the least, especially because you literally cannot do any work, no matter how hard you try!

    I've always wished I didn't fall under the creative umbrella, because I hate that feeling, but also the feeling when you achieve something you LOVE or when an idea sparks you it is honestly the best feeling ever and makes it all so worth it.

    I also love that inspiration can be so different for everyone. I've always loved reading about what other people do when they hit that wall, everyone is so different. I definitely love myself a good holiday, but I also enjoy the weird little things like visiting a cafe on your own and sitting and drinking while working in your own little world...rainy weather (I'm a cliche, I know), and visiting an area you've never been to before and just exploring for a day.
    Pinterest has been great too, I don't know what we did before Pinterest??

    Brodie | Brodie Jay

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    Replies
    1. I know - I aspired to a creative life when I was younger, and didn't really see any other option for me - but actually, it's hideous and painful, most of the time! The gap between your taste and what you can actually produce, definitely in the beginning, is so disheartening and can so easily convince you you should stop.

      I agree with you about a cafe and people watching in rainy weather - there's nothing like it. I do miss having a laptop and being able to up sticks to a cafe to work for an afternoon. Freelance working from home was wonderful in that way!

      Who knows what we did before Pinterest and Insta - it was a dark time. I don't want to go back! T xx

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