I left my corporate job last February with the goal of pursuing something more suited to my interests and talents. Piece of cake, right??? Surely it should be as simple as walking over to the creative dimmer switch and cranking that puppy up to fullllll blast. If only.
What really happened… I left my job, moved to California, saw enough palm trees and sunsets to inspire me through a project or two, and then, I froze. There was LOTS of staring at the wall and self-deprecation: “Who the heck am I to believe that I can put my creativity out there for the world to see?” followed by, “Shit. How am I going to keep thinking of this stuff?!” and the dreaded, “Oh God. Who even WANTS to see this stuff???” While glamorous Angelenos floated effortlessly in and out of cafés snapping polaroids and jotting down the beginnings of the next blockbuster, I pedaled around Venice on an Uber bike with a worry the size of a freshman backpack strewn about my shoulders. I had a noggin filled with doubt and void of “genius.” Or so I thought…
We’ve all been there (though you’re all likely a smidge less dramatiqueee than moi)! The good news is, they’re temporary. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just need a little pat on the back and a kick in the booty to make it to the other side. Here are my top tips for surviving the ebbs and flows, learning to trust yourself, and getting those juices back up and flowing:
Relax. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep reminding myself until the cows come home. Just because you’re not inspired today doesn’t mean you will never birth another worthy thought in your lifetime! Take a deep breath. It’s all good. Step back from your work for a few hours or days and go do something fun and unrelated to relieve the pressure.
Get moving. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a night or two locked in your room rotating through various sitting and lounging positions, waiting for genius to fall from the sky. I hate to break it to you, but it’s probably not coming! And, to be honest, I can’t remember one good thing ever happening as a result of stagnancy. Get outside if you can. Go for an early morning run or a late night walk. Do some yoga. There’s nothing that gets those creative juices flowing better than some good old-fashioned exercise. In the wise words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people…” can sure as hell manage a creative thought or two.
Get writing. The number one thing that saved me during my rut was the practice of getting my thoughts out of my head and onto a page every day. I’m not talking about crafting a perfectly edited novel every morning; I’m talking about a simple, cathartic mind dump. You’ll be surprised (I certainly was) by how much all that extra “fluff” weighs you down. Working through those thoughts and worries first will free up a ton of headspace for all that genius that’s just waiting to burst through the surface. For a lesson on this and so much more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way (<—linked here). Her course was a godsend for me and I’m happy to report that I’m still using her methods 10 months later!
Get inspired. This is hands down my favorite part of the creative process. Spending an afternoon at the library knee deep in travel guides, art and design books, cookbooks, and blogs is enough to ignite any creative fire for me. I’ve found that reading in general has been a tremendous help on this journey because, again, your mind has to focus on what’s in front of you instead of trying to come up with ideas of your own. One other creative process book that I found insightful is, The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett, which I mentioned in my recent 2019 Reading List post. If you’re ever curious about what I’m reading, I’ve started updating my Goodreads account again after almost a decade of being on there. Talk about things that bring me JOY. You heard it here first, Goodreads is, without a doubt, the most underrated platform on the internet!
Get going. Now that you’ve had a chance to calm down, give yourself a bit of TLC, and take in allllll the inspo, it’s time to get going again. “Ah, nope, not happening. I’m perfectly fine scrolling through my Saved boards on Instagram for the rest of eternity and watching other people do cool things, thank ya veryyyy much!” ~ me five months ago at the pit of my rut. Not today, Satan!! It’s time to get back on that horse because the world desperately needs your gifts and talents, and they need them now. Whether you’ve been working on something for 10 days or 10 years, there’s never been a better day than today! If it makes you feel any better, James Jebbia slapped a block of red text on a couple of hoodies 25 years ago and now Supreme is worth $1 billion. Clearly, in this day and age, anything is possible.
Believe & Persist. Sounds corny, but lord knows we all need to hear it. Keep putting in the work and keep the faith!