Off days – we all have them. The days with feelings of blockage, creative insecurity, asking “what’s the point?”. Off days are part of the creative process – the part that often makes people give up their creative pursuits. The first thing to keep in mind is that in order to overcome an off day, you have to accept that you’re having an off day. If you try to resist, you will be too busy resisting to work through those “off” feelings.
More times then I can count, I have sat here watching the cursor blink, over and over, waiting for me to write a single word. The doubts creep in, the fears, the questions and insecurity – sometimes I forget that teaching and writing are my passions. This is what I love to do, but in that moment, it doesn’t seem to make a difference – I’m stuck. Sound familiar?
Whether you are racking your brain trying to come up with some creative family activities, staring blankly at lesson plan wondering how to reach your students, or feeling overwhelmed on a personal project, there are strategies you can use to get back on track and feel inspired again. Here are a few that work for me.
Split your Focus
Sometimes getting started or continuing on a specific project is hard; you just don’t feel inspired. I try to keep a range of creative projects on the go at once, sometimes blockages can sort themselves out if you simply work on something else and come back to it later. I have 10-20 different posts in the works at one time for Growing Creative Kids. I work on them as inspiration hits. I might write one paragraph on one then move on to something else. If a post stumps me, I’ll leave it; the next time I look at it, I might just be inspired, and ideas will come to me faster then I can type them.
Sometimes you just have to give ideas time to develop and cross-pollinate. If I just don’t feel like writing, I surf the web for inspiration, run updates for the website, and other various tasks.
Sometimes you just have to accept that you are feeling stuck and get some fresh air and exercise. This is a great way to get the creative juices flowing again; just make sure you have a notepad or PocketMod with you to capture your ideas! Ideas come from nature, from the people around you, from the space you give yourself by just accepting your stuck and relaxing. This can be hard to do and I find it easier when I am outside walking.
Seek Inspiration and Encouragement
It might be calling a best friend or someone you haven’t talked to recently, finding a online hobby or support group, or looking up inspiring quotes online. Sometimes taking a mental break and recharging is just what you need. I’ve found these two quotes particularly inspiring during an off day:
“Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” – John Updike
“Art is what we call…the thing an artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.” – Seth Godin
Clarify your Goals and Motivation
Sometimes the best thing to do when you are having an off day is to spend some time contemplating your goals and your motivations for being creative. It allows you to see the bigger picture beyond your particular sticking point. You can view your progress with a critical eye and note how far you have come and how close you are to your goals.
Sometimes blockages are not meant to be worked through, sometimes they are actually a sign that you might not be on the right path. The key here is knowing whether it’s something temporary to be worked through or something bigger. If you’re frequently getting stuck and having off days, it’s a good sign you might need to re-evaluate. If you have lost your passion, it might be time to try something new, or look for outside factors affecting your creativity.
How we feel physically, mentally and emotionally can have a huge impact on our creativity. Taking care of ourselves allow us to be more creative and should be paramount. I have noticed a recent lack of creativity and general well-being in myself, I suspect due to having moved north, where we get significantly less sun. I feel I might not be at my creative best in the cold northern nights, but instead of getting frustrated I have accepted my circumstances and ordered a sun lamp. I sure hope it helps!
These are some the strategies I use when I am having an off day. I would love to hear how you cope, please leave a comment!