Monday, July 24, 2017

What to Do When Your Creativity is on Life Support

Brutal honesty here for a minute.  I have felt like any creativity inside me has been pretty much dead for almost the past year.  And it put me in a funk, big time.  I didn't feel like sewing much, with the exception of the winter craft fair I did with a friend.  I didn't really bake much because I'm trying to watch my weight.  And I definitely wasn't getting any writing done.  There were many factors, and I still haven't pinpointed what knocked the wind out of my creativity sails, but there are a few suspects, and it may very well be just a conglomeration of the three.
  • Changing jobs (twice).  I feel like anytime you make a big change to your routine, it has the potential to knock your creativity off its feet.  I went from working second shift, to working first.  My most productive time was always between about 8 am and 1 pm, but now I work at that time.
  • Winter.  Winter puts me in a funk faster than anything.  Oh it sounds quaint- Christmas carols, and white powdery snow, warm sweaters, and hot cocoa and toasty fires.  But, if you live far enough north, you know what it's really like- shoveling heavy, wet snow, starting your car fifteen minutes before you plan on leaving so it warms up, ice, and darkness- so much darkness.  It's dark when you get up, and the sun is already setting when you get done with work.  You're cold all the time.  Misery sucks the creativity right out of you.
  • Depression.  Because once Christmas passes, you know what you're left with?  Another two to three months of snow, more darkness, and nothing to look forward to.  Sounds depressing?  It is.  Usually my goal is just to hold on to dear life and wait for the thaw.  Usually spring whisks away my sad feelings just like the breeze that speeds up the melting of all the dirty snow banks.  But this year, that didn't happen.  I was in the middle of my second job change in just over six months and I went from depressed to stressed.  I wasn't motivated to do anything besides consume carbs and drink coffee while eating European chocolates.  There were little bursts of creativity but nothing that was able to catch fire in the artistic part of my brain.
But now, finally, seven months into the new year, I feel alive and ready to go again.  I feel creative again, and energized and ready to tackle projects and make new things. So what's changed?
  • My diet.  My brother sells Advocare and I decided to give the 24 Day Challenge a try.  And while I'm not saying you have to do the program to feel better, I do think cutting all added sugar and most carbs out of my life has helped me feel better.  I'm only fifteen days in but feel better than I have in a long time.  And that's after enduring a nearly 48 hour headache when my body realized there was no chocolate coming.
  • Morning pages.  I've gotten back to writing three pages of whatever is in my head in the morning.  This brain dump, that Julia Cameron swears by really does help.  You can get all the things bottled up, out on to paper.  And sometime I even find some truth in what I write.  But, I look at it as getting some of the cobwebs cleared so I can get to the real gems underneath.  And by the way, this doesn't happen everyday, but just doing it a few times a week really helps.
  • My attitude.  Now this one is a tricky one because people say "change your attitude" like it's putting on socks, but it's not.  I really recommend taking a day off and just unplugging from Facebook and Instagram and even the constant stream of text messages and getting out the pen and paper and writing what you want from life.  Do you want more money, do you want more time, do you want more fun?  How are you going to get it?  Come up with a game plan.  Once I really thought about what I want my life to look like, I feel like I got a lot of clarity about the here and now.
  • My plan.  Or to be more clear, I made a plan.  Life always feels better when you feel like you have some control.  Make a list.  Make several lists.  Make a list of action steps you can take and then make some lists of how to conquer each action step.  Make some action steps for conquering your goals.  Bonus points if you have someone you can bounce your plan off. 
So, while we think of creativity as this spontaneous thing that just pops up like one of those mushrooms that just show up in your yard, full grown, overnight, without any real rhyme or reason, but it's not.  At least not for me.  For me, creativity needs structure.  It needs to be watered and fed.  It's much more like a finicky house plant that you can't leave unattended for too long, or the leaves start to fall off and it shrivels.

make a list you'll feel better

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