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When The Creative River Runs Dry

For the past week I have felt like a fish out of water flapping around on the pavement, gasping for air as I try and grab onto something, just one small kernel, so I can focus and get back into the water. But the ocean is two hours away and swimming in the Willamette and Columbia Rivers this time of year (or anytime really any unless you want to grow another head) is not recommended.

What is the problem? I’ll tell you:

My muse has been on hiatus this week and I haven’t felt motivated to do much of anything. When I got home from work, I just wanted to read and relax and stare at the wall. Of course the voices in my head point to the long list of projects I need to finish and as a creative person I feel like I should be DOING SOMETHING. But I just haven’t been inspired. Now, I realize if I wait around for inspiration to bite, I’ll never get anything done but the pages this week remain blank and my usual sources of inspiration have either dried up or are just not giving me that spark. In a desperate attempt to shut of the To Do Voice, I turned to my friend Kim. Kim is a professional muse and the owner of MuseCraft. Whenever I find myself spinning my wheels, I turn to Kim who always helps guide me out of my creative ruts. This is what she said:

Sometimes, if you don’t feel like writing or being creative, it’s because
you need to rest. Lull, that space of relaxing, resting, maybe taking in
some new sights and sounds and experiences, is a vital part of the
creative process that we skip over too often.If you don’t feel like doing creative work, don’t. Give yourself time off. I do suggest setting a limit on that time off. “I’m not going write/paint/whatever for the next three days.” Or week. Or whatever feels like a good amount of time that will leave you feeling rested and renewed.

Rest, relax, read something inspirational (I love The Awe-Manac by Jill Badonsky or a variety of art journaling books I keep around). After that time, revisit your creative work and see how you feel (and sometimes, if you haven’t taken a break in a long while, you might find that you need more time, and that’s okay, too).

Some other times, though, you might just be having a fit of creative restlessness. You want to do something, but your usual things aren’t quite satisfying you somehow, or you need a break from a big project you’re working on but don’t want to do nothing creative at all. These are the times to use other people. They’re out there, just wanting you to use
them! Take them up on that!

There are so many creative websites with neat little projects to try. There are a dozen magazines at your local bookstore with all sorts of nifty projects to play with (I especially love Cloth, Paper, Scissors
magazine). There are online and in person art and craft classes or even tutorials for a single project (The Zen of Making does all sorts of craft tutorials and Journal Girl usually has a
bunch of art journal video tutorials

Find something that looks fun, follow the nicely laid out steps, and make someone else’s project. You’ll probably find that as you follow the steps in a ready made project, your own creative juices start to flow again, and you will return to your own work with a bit of a new perspective, some new
ideas to play with and maybe even add into the work, and renewed enthusiasm now that you’ve been away for a while (absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know).

Great advice, huh? Since Kim gave us such great FREE advice here, you can get even better advice and inspiration during her June 20th summer solstice teleconference on sparking your muse. Click here to find out more.

Every couple of months I go through this. I check out 10 books at the library and can’t get into any of them and I wander around the house like a cat that wants everything and nothing and can’t figure out what to do next. It’s frustrating and usually passes, but I can’t seem to get anything done while I flop and flail. With Kim’s wise advice, I’m going to have to get out my markers and colored pencils and make something other than sentences when I get in a rut.

What about you? What do you do when you get in creative ruts? Share your ideas in the comments or e-mail them to me and I’ll do a featured blog post with your ideas.


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

One response »

  1. I am so glad you wrote about this! And thank you for letting me share my thoughts on it, too. I think so many of us get caught up in feeling like we must constantly be *doing* things, and we don’t even question that belief. It’s really good for us to drag those ideas out into the light of day and see that they might not actually be true.


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