So, as I have discussed on this blog before, being creative isn’t an exact art. I find it very hard to predict when I will be at my most productive, and often this happens when I least expect it. Having a routine of tasks that is obtainable usually helps me to get into the habit of being creative regularly, which helps massively.
But what do I do during those inevitable times when the last thing I want to do is write? Well, I have put together a list of my top five creative mojo killers and how I combat them.
- Stress, Tiredness, Illness
Now this one is really all about self-care. In these times, I often try to think of my hobby as my full time occupation. How can I expect the best from myself when I’m not looking after myself as I should? For stress, I try to find the source of the problem and address it directly. I find a prioritised list of things to do helps me feel more organised. Making time for relaxation and switching off time will make a big difference too. For tiredness and illness, I make a judgement call as to whether I should plough through, or give myself a couple of days off. Hopefully, if I stick to my usual routine, a few days off isn’t going to be a disaster. Also, if I am unable to perform and achieve the level of work I want to, I need to take a step back; torturing myself until I write something won’t help. A balanced lifestyle overall helps me to avoid these things where possible.
- Lack of time
I follow an American pilates instructor called Cassey Ho (check out her Blogilates) and I admire her largely for her honest attitude and perspective towards fitting exercise into your lifestyle, and the benefits that come along with it. She says if you are struggling to find time to exercise, aim for five minutes, and shave it off your social media time if necessary! Lack of time is an obstacle that everyone faces who manages a business or project outside of their nine to five. But I apply Cassey’s principle here too. If I am struggling for time then I aim to achieve something small, like having a think about plot development, writing down anything that comes to mind, or coming up with some blog ideas. These tasks aren’t too time consuming and it means I can feel good about achieving something; something small is better than nothing!
This is something I have mentioned on the blog before. I seem to associate a good writing session with feeling confident, relaxed and emotionally open; in other words free. But, I am only human after all, and we all go through times where self-esteem is low. This comes down to so many things; even something like perceived weight gain, or disagreeing with my husband, friend or colleague can knock my confidence enough to prevent me from writing my best work. To combat this, I try to stick to good mental health practises. I try not to ruminate. I try to think positive things about myself. I try to manage my disappointments and setbacks. The one thing we all deserve is a friendly pat on the back from ourselves when things are in question. Check out Guy Winch’s TED talk on why we all need to practice emotional first aid-it is excellent on this subject.
- Lack of inspiration
This is a tricky one, and I have talked about it in detail in a blog last month, Top 5 Tips To Get Inspired to Write, so have a quick read of this for more detail. Overall, like with stress, I try to find out what the cause is to my lack of inspiration, my lack of engagement with my art and try to overcome it. Often this coincides with other points I have listed, tiredness etc. so I start there. Then, I use music, films etc. to help with this. I suppose in life in general, there are always beautiful and wonderful things to see, it’s about stopping to see them and appreciate them.
- Negative feedback
This one is inevitable, especially when you have made yourself so vulnerable by sharing your personal work with others. But this is the name of the game and managing my reaction to this is essential. I once had a suggestion that Latest Mistake didn’t have enough substance. Now, this is a perfect reasonable piece of constructive feedback. Ok, the person in question could have helped me out by being more specific or perhaps by making a couple of suggestions, but ultimately that’s not up to them, it’s up to me as the writer to improve my piece. I confess I stewed over this for days, experiencing a variety of emotions. I even at one point asked myself why I should even bother. But this is dangerous territory. Firstly, the person really enjoyed the book overall, secondly, I am certain they by no means meant it harshly, but only as a piece of feedback I might find valuable. Criticism should be taken seriously, but with a pinch of salt and resilience also. Nine times out of ten it is well intentioned, and if analysed from a non-personal point of view, it can be a useful tool in moving forward with my work.
So there you have it! Like with the inspirations blog, sometimes these ideas will work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes you have big things going on in your life which means you can’t prioritise the thing you love as much as you would like. Making the most of your time and creative energy when you can, can make all the difference.