Storms inevitably come along the road of life. Unfortunately, these situations can greatly affect inspiration. Here’s how to navigate through a lack of creativity during challenging times.
When the storm comes
I’ll just start by saying things as they are: I’m actually going through some challenging times in my life. Despite my best intentions and general positive approach, I would be lying if I said that I feel very creative at the moment. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself. All of us go through hard times at some point, whether it’s the loss of a loved one or a job, separation, health or family issues.
Still, I have to make a living (surprising, I know). I just can’t lock myself at home and wait until I feel better to resume my professional life. I have to keep going regardless of what I’m feeling right now.
Here are five ways I’m using at the moment to help me sail through the storm — maybe you could find it useful as well.
1. Get a support system
Even though I’m on the introvert side and I need a lot of time by myself, my closest friends are always are great help and support. Your support system can be trusted friends, family, a psychologist, a mentor …
To be listened to in a caring way without judgment and most of all, without turning it into a pity party, always makes me feel a lot better.
2. Allow yourself to be less productive
This is perhaps as hard as it is freeing to accept. Last week, I’ve accepted the fact that it was OK not to be as effective as I usually am (and take pride in being). I’ve accepted the fact that it was OK to take time for myself first. This is the only way I can find my “normal-self” back again — in whatever form it might take. I need to fill my cup first in order to be able to fill anyone else’s after.
3. Do more of what makes you feel good
To me, physical activity has always made me feel good. I’ve decided to get back to running and training — two things I’ve neglected as I was twirling down my “crappy time” spiral.
Writing has also been one of my most favorite ways to free my mind (hence the reason of this very article). You don’t need a blog to write and you certainly don’t need anyone to read it to reap the rewards. Grab a pen and paper. Or write yourself an email. The only goal is to get it out of your system.
Maybe taking long walks, painting or listening to music is what makes you feel good. Whatever that is, just do it.
Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is also great for creativity.
4. Find a new personal photography project
Photography in itself can be a therapy. If taking pictures makes you feel good — or at least better — then by all means grab your camera and let your imagination run wild. Who knows, these images might become your most brilliant series. Or it also could be the crappiest thing you’ve ever done.
Who cares, as long as it makes you feel good. Have a look at this great article by Giulio Sciorio about documenting fatherhood in times of crisis.
5. Fake it ’til you make it
In the worst days, you just have to swallow the pill, barrel through and get the work done. That is the definition of being professional. If you are committed to doing something, then you should deliver it to the best of your abilities.
As Robert Schuller once said, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” One day you’ll get better and this hard time will be nothing more than a memory. Your clients, however, will stick with you in the long run if you treat them professionally no matter what.
Good question. I wish I knew. I’ll just keep on following my inner voice (call it cheesy if you want) because, well, it’s always served me well. I felt like writing this article and, interesting enough, I feel better now that I’m about to post it. Perhaps giving back to others is a sixth way to help us get our creativity back.
What about you? How do you personally deal with a lack of creativity during challenging times? I’d love to read your suggestions.
I do believe there are as many ways as there are people on this earth. However, please, just don’t tell me ice cream isn’t part of the solution. ;)