As we FINALLY move into spring here in Boston, it’s a good time to make a creative fresh start. Creative slumps are just part of the territory of being a maker, but they don’t have to define your creative practice. Here are some ideas to help you that I’ve found useful over time.
- Clean up your making space. An occasional cleanup can really help you create, especially when it’s one that is built around your creative workflow. A couple of months ago I cleaned up my studio, including putting tools I use all the time in a bookcase right by my work table. Having a studio more defined by how I actually work stimulates me to work more. I also got rid of a few of the things I haven’t used in five years. I still have a huge pile of cool-junk-to-be-used someday, but I can see my floor now. I also find the greater feeling of space soothing.
- Not enough time or money? Is there any small way that you can say no to free up some time or cut an expense so you have more resources to be creative? Even if you can’t give up your day job, a little breathing room can make a big difference. I recently cut back at my work just a few hours, and it has helped a lot. I’ve also always been impressed with Hearth Founder Miranda Aisling’s ability to cut costs so she has the money to create. She saved up all the money over years to buy all the supplies for her current tiny house project. Cutting back on a cell phone bill or riding your bike to work occasionally not only cuts costs but helps you feel like you are not so pressed.
- Not enough structure or support? Constantly worrying about money or having no scheduled structure can also take a toll. As Crystal of Miss Fete said to me recently, “Even Bruce Wayne had a day job.” I was blessed two years ago to find a job with steady hours and really good benefits. Sure, I’d like to afford to make art full time, make more money, or have a more glamorous job, but having structure has been a great relief. It gives me the basic underpinning to fall back on. (Also, being able to go to the dentist has been amazing.) This leads to the next tip:
- Have a dedicated making time. Mine is Wednesdays. To be honest, I never spend the whole day or as much time as I would like at the studio. However, having the dedicated day makes sure I always get there some. The golden rule of artmaking is that making some art begets making more art. Making no art begets making less art. To this end:
- Make a goal to be creative every day (or twice a week) for a very short amount of time. You can read my earlier post about this here. If you really are in one of those times in life where this is no time (huge work deadline, new baby, family emergency), do a little something creative for a few minutes each day. When things open up again (and they always do), you will have kept the creative impulses active enough to jump back into things.
- Play. The Artist’s Way, a book about how to maintain your creative process, emphasizes the importance of play. In the book, author Julia Cameron explains that your creative self is a child. Like all children, your creative self needs play time to stay happy. She recommends going on an art date once a week with your creative half. Whether you can fit it in that often or not, playing can get you going. Wander around a toy store. Go sailing. Buy some glittery craft supplies. Sing a silly song at the top of your lungs. Don’t do it with the intent of then making something. Just do it because it’s fun and the creative juices will flow after.