When it comes to feeling inspired about my writing, I often feel like a broken-down car that needs regular jump-starts. It’s most definitely not the glamorous image we all have in our heads of what it must be like to be an “artist.” There are just so many things that get in the way of my creative flow. Kids. Family obligations. Work. Somebody didn’t sleep. Somebody is sick. Housework. Bad mood. All of the above.
I find myself regularly juggling multiple projects and obligations and interests and constantly struggling to find balance. For now this is my world. Maybe it will always be my world.
So I need a lot of jump-starts.
Ideally my creative vehicle will work for days or weeks before help is needed, but sometimes that’s not the case. For me, the answer is always another jump-start. You could think of it as regular maintenance to your creative engine. Here are some of my methods:
Creative Jump-Start (use one or a combination of any, as needed):
1. Read. These days I read a variety of material, usually something fiction and on-going non-fiction books. I’ve been reading a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh.
2. Watch a movie. I’ll admit that this doesn’t happen often these days with little ones, but when it does, and when I find a good one, my storytelling juices are in full gear.
3. Journal. I keep a number of journals, online and traditional. Free-flow writing is a great way to get your thoughts moving.
4. Change of scenery. When I’m feeling depressed, a sure-fire way to feel better is to go somewhere else. Anywhere. Even a trip to the grocery store can change the direction of a bad day.
5. Plan something. I love traveling. Planning trips make me excited. Maybe you would like to plan a garden, a house project, a party–anything? (I happen to love planning everything.)
6. Visit family or friends. Socializing always clears my head. It makes bad moods go away. It’s a guarantee for some laughs. We are social beings. We need to be around other people, and that goes beyond the people who live in the same house as us.
7. Alone time. The other night I was so burnt out. My son was up way past bedtime jumping around. I wanted to scream. I think I did. Seriously, can I have any time to myself?! I sent him to bed, plopped down with my Pinterest and in ten silly little minutes, I felt better. Just ten minutes alone made a huge difference.
8. Go outside. Walk. Sit in the backyard. Go on a hike. Do something outside. I don’t know what it is, but that returning to nature thing is good for head-clearing. I also go camping once a year. In my younger years I went backpacking–highly recommend if you have the chance (which I don’t these days, unfortunately).
9. Garden. I find working in the garden to be relaxing. You’re outside, hands in the dirt, tending to vulnerable plants and looking at pretty colors and flowers and nature. I also enjoy reading outside, preferably near a garden.
10. Exercise. I can’t function if I don’t feel healthy. Exercise makes me feel healthy. I make time for it. I do some of my best thinking while I’m on a run.
11. Work on an unrelated project. This sounds counterintuitive when you’re stressing about getting a different creative project done, but I’ve found that having lots of balls in the air makes me a better juggler. If my writing isn’t happening, I might instead work on my new garden, or planning a lesson, or whatever else. I can go back to my creative project afterward with eyes more focused.
12. Do something tried and true. There are certain things I know put me in a good mood. Like…Dairy Queen blizzards. Going for a walk with my kids. Shopping for me. My favorite coffee. Trying to make a new recipe. What makes you happy?
13. Manufacture ambiance. Sometimes I just need a cozy place to work. I’ve been known to move my office. Re-decorate. Light a candle. Put some soft creative-y music on in the background. Open a window. Even slight changes can alter your mood.
14. Butcher paper. This might sound super silly, but when I pull out a roll of butcher paper, tear myself off a large portion, and sit down with a pen or pencil, I get so excited to start brainstorming and letting my creative juices flow. I don’t know if it reminds me of grade school or what, but it works.
So now you know a little about what works for me. Of course, you’ll have to find what works for you.