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NOT FEElING ‘PRODUCTIVE’?
When you are a creative person pursuing a hobby, side project, or full time career, there will be times when you simply don’t feel like doing the thing.
Sometimes your body is telling you to rest and it is important to listen. Since I am self-employed, I can tend to fall into patterns of inaction. Being the only person I answer to can be a challenge at times.
When I am in a funk and know rest isn’t what I need, here are some ways to get myself moving.
1. HAVE MULTIPLE PROJECTS GOING AT ONCE
Theatre school taught me the magic of having multiple projects going on at one time.
Both between all of the departments and within the paint shop.
If a project requires a texture that takes a few hours to dry, complete that step first and move onto the other projects while it sets.
My work as an accountability coach umbrellas many projects: one-on-one clients, writing blog posts, content creation, research, reading, and admin tasks. In addition to coaching, I work as an artist assistant, create my own art, and work as a freelancer for other companies.
If I’m not in the mood to work on a blog post, I’ll review client notes, read a book, or research stock images. If my brain is full from coaching all together, I’ll look over glaze recipes or watch ceramics videos on YouTube.
Having multiple professional projects whether they are your main income source or a side is great. Bounce back and forth. Writing invoices might inspire a blog post about how to stay on top of it or the best way to collect payments. Inspiration hits at odd times.
2. CONSUME INSPIRING ART
Often as creatives, we think all ideas have to come from the depths of our brains. This is not true. One of the most important aspects of being a creative professional is consuming art that sets your soul on fire.
I am using the term ‘art’ vaguely here because this is up to you. Whether that means reading a book, going to a museum, doing a tarot spread, or watching a master of your craft, CONSUME something INSPIRING.
While Netflix and Instagram can be sources of inspiration, if you use these platforms to relax, decompress, or mindlessly scroll, step out of your comfort zone and find something different to consume intentionally. Bring a little notebook, pen, and take notes or sketch.
3. GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS / SHOW UP
This is a tip I’ve read in many books, heard on podcasts, seen in recent blog research for topics like yoga in addition to creativity.
In every discipline, there are always foundations and skills that can be improved upon. Maybe it is basic line exercises, throwing perfect cylinders, musical scales, or critical writing prompts. Put it on the schedule to ensure this is a healthy practice and not burnout work.
If you dedicate time each day to fundamentals when the creative juices aren’t flowing, eventually, there will be a spark. You are telling your brain, 'I'm here', and inviting the creativity in. It might take hours, days, or weeks, but time spent improving your skills means you’re ready to create again sharper than ever.
Save all the work you do in this time.
Writings, inspiration images, scraps, lists, sketches, or voice memos.
I keep everything in one binder, including rambly pages and ugly sketches. If I need an idea, there’s usually something among the brain chaos. Things I might have forgotten about that I have time to reimagine now.
4. DO YOUR NON-PROFESSIONAL HOBBYHaving a hobby ONLY for you is incredibly important. This should be completely separate from how you make money. It can be video games, reading for fun, collectables, drawing, game nights, or exercise. Whatever makes you happy!
For me, this is reading tarot cards. I often turn to my cards when stuck creatively! I use them to journal, reflect, connect with others and really connect with myself.
Tarot is a vast subject that can be studied for an entire lifetime, which makes it the best kind of hobby in my opinion. You don’t need a lot to get started, but you can also collect thousands of decks if you want. It's completely personal and up to the reader, which I adore.
5. CHECK SOMETHING ELSE OFF THE LIST
When it comes to daily to-do lists, they are all encompassing and sorted by ‘category’.
Categories that require creative energy are focused on in the morning, but there are times when I get stuck. When that happens, I get up from the computer, move around, and do something else.
I check what’s on the list for house tasks that day and pick something from there. Sometimes these are small projects like washing the dishes or vacuuming the floor. I’ll start a load of laundry and think about what to make for dinner. Maybe the tasks are bigger things like deep cleaning the fridge. It all depends what’s on the list.
These procrastination projects are okay in moderation, but don’t lose entire work days to these tasks. Use them as a break from using your creative muscles and still get something accomplished during your ‘productive’ time.
Creativity comes in ebbs and flows, which isn’t always the best when it’s time to get work done. These are some of my tips and I’d love to hear some of the ways you deal with feeling stuck in the comments!