Life always has its ups and downs, especially if you’re a creative mind. We go through productive spurts, months of go go go and then it feels like our motivation slams on the breaks and any and all inspiration just flies out the window.
What are we supposed to do with ourselves during these times? I was in a serious down-flux for a good chunk of this year, staring at the wall, bingeing Netflix, sucking down wine, jumping at every chance to get out of my apartment…anything to distract myself from the fact that I was creatively stagnant and my motivation had come to a standstill. I was restless and irritable but had no idea how to get myself out of this rut. So I sent out a call and asked some friends what they do during times like these, and here’s what they said:
“Go into the rest of [your] life really hard…I think it’s important to fill up your life with enough to do no matter what your brain feels like doing at any given time.”
Don’t just sit there waiting for the switch to turn back on. Keep yourself occupied until that missing piece comes back; it will come when you’re ready for it and not a second sooner. I didn’t realize that I had already been doing this…I threw myself into my social life really hard. I maybe didn’t take the healthiest approach to it, but it’s been great to reconnect with certain friends and make the most of my time with them.
“Absorbing a lot of other things, books, movies, and trying to learn a lot. If you’re taking in things meaningfully and purposefully it feeds your brain.”
If you can’t produce, absorb. Take in anything and everything that captures even the tiniest bit of your interest!
“Practice…or find a new skill that might be helpful for future work.”
Even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day! Keep those skills sharp. Or yes, pick up something new! Even if you don’t have the energy or motivation to do something active find something to keep your hands busy. All of February I was basically sitting in my chaise staring at the wall and I should have taken up knitting or something so that when I looked down 3 hours later I had some idea of where the time went.
“When you aren’t working on your craft, work on your career.”
Update your resume, take classes; especially for artists – if the art isn’t there or you’re between projects, take this opportunity to focus on the other aspects of your career that probably get put on the back burner when you’re steamrolling ahead with your craft or current project.
It’s also important to let things happen as they happen. Don’t try to force anything. If it’s not there, it’s not there. Looking back, I wasn’t in as much of a rut as I thought at the time. No, I wasn’t fulfilling society’s standards of “productive,” but I was learning a lot about myself: unearthing and releasing old demons, recognizing and accepting different shifts occurring in my life – both within and without – and experiencing the definitive closing of one life chapter and the beginning of the next. It was a lot to go through at one time and there wasn’t room for anything else. And that’s ok. It’s been a VERY productive few months, just not in the way we’re conditioned to define “productive.”
It’s too easy and natural for us to be so hard on ourselves when we’re going through a seemingly rough time, but the universe is always at work in your life whether you realize it or not. Even when you feel stuck, she’s taking you somewhere and if you don’t resist her, if you follow her lead, you will come out the other side a truer version of you.