We’ve all experienced the draining pull of a creative slump. They sort of sneak up on you and it’s not until you’re questioning every creative decision and feeling generally ambivalent to every word you type or photo you take that it hits. By then you’re stuck.
Slumps are a natural part of the process for any writer, blogger, artist, photographer, or generally creative human being. Like our mood, inspiration fluctuates and sometimes you’re just all out of that zesty goodness that keeps you motivated.
There’s no avoiding them. In fact, sometimes going through a creative slump can help us see things in a whole new light and influence our work in exciting ways. In this post I wanted to share some of my tips for pushing through those down and out times.
Enjoy an old favourite
Going back to episodes of The IT Crowd, Black Books or Gavin and Stacey feels like hitting ‘reset’ on my brain when I’m in any kind of slump or meh mood. There’s something so comforting about going back to your favourite film or TV show or book.
We don’t have to think too much, and that’s exactly what’s need when we’re feeling like everything we do is just a bit rubbish. Speaking to The Atlantic, writer and therapist Rosalie Knecht says re-reading books you love can give shape to a stagnant feeling and reassure you it will pass.
Re-visiting our old favourites can also help shift our thinking. Perhaps visiting Hogwarts again will help you look at the world, and whatever you’re creating, with fresh eyes.
Get back to nature
Honestly, I’ve never been much of an outdoors person. I’d definitely rather be inside with a book than getting bitten by insects in the baking hot sun. It wasn’t until I visited the UK and got to enjoy some nature sans mosquitoes and flies that I started to really enjoying a nice walk.
I love putting a good podcast on or taking the dog for a walk. But walking with friends can also be a great way to kick those creative blues to the curb. Of course, exploring a beautiful landscape is a great way to clear your head but even walking around the block on your lunch break and noticing things you don’t see in the daily rush can be a boost.
Stop trying too hard
I’m the worst when it comes to this. If things aren’t going the way I want, if a photo doesn’t turn out the way I imagined or my words are falling flat then I just keep trying. It’s what we’re always told to do, right? Just get back up when you fall down.
But sometimes taking a break is the answer. Allowing our fatigued mind to stop and rest is hard. Trust me, I’m writing this after basically being forced to take a break from a project I love but that has wrung every bit of energy out of me this week. And I feel all the better for it. I spent hours taking photos and reading and cooking.
So next time you feel that slump setting in just walk away for a while. Do something creative by all means, but get out of whatever headspace you’ve been working in. Or just sleep. Whatever works for you.
Find new inspiration
When I’m feeling stuck with photography in particular, I like to look for new people to follow who are pushing creative boundaries. Seeing how people interpret creativity differently has pushed me to think outside my own boundaries. This isn’t about comparison: don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Just enjoy the beauty of their photos and the joy they can bring.
Some of my favourite accounts to spark creativity are:
- Bronte at From Bee With Love
- Katy at Miss Katy English
- Dominique and Dominic at All That is She
- Stephie at Cup of Creative
- Elizabeth Sagan
- Lauren at Lauren Aston Designs
This also goes for books and films. Sometimes switching out of my favourite genre (contemporary) for something completely different helps me find a new groove. When I was heartbroken after a breakup with a stupid boy, I started watching American Horror Story because I wanted something to take my mind off relationships. I discovered a brilliant storyteller in Ryan Murphy and found a new tolerance for the horror genre.
What are you tips for getting through a creative slump?