When Creativity Fails You
I think pretty much we've all been there for sure, but this year I had a major creative block, somewhere starting from April until August.
I'm constantly crafting, creating, chasing around my kiddos and whatnot - but this time I couldn't make myself jot down some ideas, not even draw. My husband kept asking me what was wrong, it just seemed out of character to not see me doodle, knit, sew or paint. My kids were asking when I would start teaching art classes again ... and I put a lot of projects on hold because I just couldn't function creatively. It felt much like your brain shutting down and just leaving everything blank. I could Photoshop this or do this or that in Illustrator (mechanical, art production things) but nothing really creative. It honestly depressed me, I was even worried there for a minute that I wouldn't get my creative mojo back. Whew!
It was the worst creative block I've ever had, where my motivation and creativity just plain and simple left me and put me in a pickle ... I mean, I had to get new fabric collections out, new products for my site and some projects for clients even. I felt like Armageddon was upon me and I had nowhere to turn for help. I checked out blogs, I prayed, went out for long walks, shut myself in the bathroom for a while (this is the only place in the house where I actually have some privacy). Nada, nothing was helping! It took a lot of introspecting and mindfulness but here's what I came up with that actually worked for me: 1. Take a break Yes, chill! I had to be really honest and open with my clients and turn down some projects. I postponed some of my personal projects as well. I just Netflixed a lot, spent quality time with my family and tried my best to lower my stress level ... chill as can be. It took me months to relax because I'm the worst worrywart in the planet.
2. Surround yourself by what inspires you
I splurged in some Etsy finds (I got me some prints by Lorelay Bove, Britney Lee and such) but you can just pin a whole bunch of images that inspire you and make a screenshot of your Pinterest board. Keep a hard copy of it on your desk or somewhere you can see it. Maybe you have a favorite pen or some magazines that have the best quilts you've seen ... whatever it is that you like, keep those images near you because I'm telling you ... the creative spark will ignite when you least expect it.
3. Go to your happy place
For me it's Barnes & Noble or Starbucks. Sometimes a craft store or even my couch, a chai latte and a good book to read. You need that place where you can let go of all your worries and have some "me" time. Maybe it's your bathtub, I don't know ... whatever place that really stimulates you in a good way. You don't have to take a notepad or sketchbook but I highly recommend it because I seriously started to get all these ideas just by being surrounded with all the visual stimuli.
4. Love your work
As artists we are our worst critics. We're never good enough, we can push to be better. Whatever! Just awe yourself with the fact of how far you've come. Your evolution as an artist is important, not to criticize and pick every flaw apart, but to give you a big pat in the back and to encourage you to move forward with confidence.
I've worked as an illustrator/designer since 2007 and what I've learned so far is that I am awesome because I am ME. Unique. My art really shows my personality, who I really am inside. What I want to share with the world. And that's the goal, isn't it? So even if I win gazillion awards and my art goes viral or not, what is my objective? Why did I start drawing in the first place? It's got to be for yourself, because this is an outlet for what's inside of you. So, no more comparing your art to others; no more beating yourself for not having a design of the year award or whatever... You have accomplished what you set out to do so just be yourself and be happy with your work.
5. Be still
This goes back to step 1 of chilling the heck out. I've never been more scared than these past few months, when I thought my career would be over if I didn't get back in the groove. All I needed to do was to take some time off, have some quiet time and leave behind any pressures, stress and problems behind. I am a highly sensitive person and all this pressure and stress I feel it 10 times worse. It causes me physical symptoms even. Terrible, terrible thing. But I reallly backed off, and it worked! And it doesn't have to take you months, it probably won't. It took me a long time, I'm not sure why but I was finally able to release whatever burden I was carrying.
6. Sleep! (if you can)
I am pregnant with my 4th child and suffer from insomnia so it's pretty hard for me to even get 4 hours in a row of sleep. I cat nap, that's about it (and somehow I function) but this is a big part of why it's taken a huge toll on me. I can't remember what it feels like to sleep 8 hours in a row. But I made it a point to take naps when my toddler napped, asking the hubby to watch the kids so I could rest for a bit, etc.
It helped a lot! I hate asking for help but sometimes you just have to reach out or you will become a martyr for no good reason. Get you a support system and catch some Z's. You will feel much better and will be more prone to have your "aha!" moment.
I hope these tips help you on your journey to get back in the creative groove. You'll get there, just take it easy and don't beat yourself for this creative block you're experiencing. Give yourself some credit! You probably work too hard, are under a lot of pressure and it's only natural that you reach your limits from time to time.