Have you ever had times when you didn’t feel like being creative? They may last for a day or two, a week, or even months. It’s perfectly normal and okay. But do you ever think about what’s behind it and how to get out of that state if you wanted to?
There are periods in our lives that are simply busier than others. We have family responsibilities. We’re more occupied promoting our existing material than taking on a new project. In these periods of activity our energy can be drained, depleting our motivation to attend to non-essential tasks. It can be hard to make time for our creative pursuits without running ourselves ragged, despite the advice of those who claim we need to make room for everything at all costs to our well-being.
Perhaps you can’t spend hours in the studio or your writing room but what about bringing a notebook to draw or write in when you’re visiting your loved one in the hospital? What about installing a keyboard app on your phone to play with some melodic lines while you’re heading from one place to another on the bus? You know, just to keep that spark alive while you’re tending to other things. You don’t even have to use these tools necessarily, but just having them around may remind you that there is inspiration to be found everywhere.
If you discover you have the time to create but not the will, have a look at what is lying underneath.
I honestly can’t say I’ve ever been in a situation where I have not wanted to create something or other when the opportunity presented itself. I am an idea factory after all and it’s hard not to act when inspiration strikes on the daily. But I will say I have consciously hesitated out of fear – usually fear that what I’m working on won’t be good or that it won’t get out there and all my effort will have been for nothing. True, it’s easier to relax and experience someone else’s masterpiece than to try to create your own but it’s not nearly as rewarding and usually not as fun, but I have been able to get to the point where I can tell myself that it’s a work in progress until it’s done. What I’m recording or writing doesn’t have to be amazing in this exact moment. I’m going to see what comes out and keep making it better until it’s of an appropriate standard. If it really turns out to be a gong show, there’s still probably something I’ve gained in the process – learning a new skill, acquiring new information – so it’s not wasted time. And I know my best work happens when I’m enjoying myself, when I’m having fun, so approaching every note or word with dread is not going to serve me or the project.
Maybe it’s time to switch things up a bit. If you’ve been writing children’s songs for twenty years and it doesn’t excite you any more, perhaps you would be reenergized writing for a more mature audience. Maybe you’ve been working with oils forever and you just need to try some watercolours. It’s not about stopping all together – it’s taking a different approach to what you’re already doing and seeing how that feels.
And, honestly, maybe you just need to take a break or move on to something else entirely. Yes, creating can be joyous, freeing, life-affirming – all that. But it’s also work. It still uses up our time as well as our mental and physical energy. And maybe that time and energy needs to be put towards other things – not necessarily forever but at least for a while.
So, don’t be hard on yourself if you feel you need to shift gears. It’s easy to become overly attached to things like labels and the idea of no longer being an “artist” can keep us in an unsatisfying situation for longer than necessary. Remember – your value is not determined by labels and status. The best thing you can do for yourself and the world is living a life that is fulfilling and meaningful for you and part of that is having the courage to head out in new direction when you are inspired to do so.