Most writers have heard a variation of the saying, “If you only write when you feel like it, you’ll never write.”
And as a creative—whether an artist, designer, or musician (to name a few)—there are plenty of times we push though lackluster ruts. It’s a part of the process. But what happens when you’ve pushed through one too many times and feel creatively spent?
Yes, strive to produce and be consistent. But there are times we must pause and do something entirely different. Maybe it’s a day, a week—or like me— a couple of months. The length and depth of the break depends on what you need to fully restore.
So if you’re feeling uninspired, tired—maybe even frustrated— then here’s four reasons to set aside your artistic endeavors or side projects for your own creative good.
After a couple of years of working towards specific writing goal on some projects, I’d drastically reduced my social outings and was feeling overworked. While this forced me to prioritize—a much-needed skill— it also meant that I missed out on unwinding and seeing some people I really love. Yes, I found ways to be social while working (think group writing sessions), but I still overspent myself.
I thrive on the relationships in my life and genuinely missed the freedom of meeting up after work whenever I wanted. And though meeting a lifelong creative goal felt amazing, I also needed time to reconnect with those around me. Sometimes we need to say “yes” to unexpected outings and adventures.
Periodically stopping to assess our direction in life keeps us accountable. Taking the time to reflect on our goals, the reasoning behind those goals, and whether are not our current efforts are actually leading us to where we want to go, will help us to prevent regret later in life.
You can’t control everything, but you can be intentional. And that means being intentional about, well, being intentional. Take the time to reflect and make adjustments so you continue down the right path.
You can be so close to a project you forget the bigger picture. Stepping back gives you a Birdseye view so you can assess from the top down without getting lost in the details. What are you really trying to say with your artwork?
Then, get back to the details.
If you’re a painter, for example, read a book about some of your favorite artists or take a trip to a museum to remind yourself why you started painting in the first place. A microscopic understanding of a pursuit often starts with the why.
And when you revisit where a passion started, you can ignite that desire once more.
Rest is more than important. It’s essential. We look, feel, eat, and work better when we’re rested. And I’m not just talking about sleep. If you’re driven by your achievements you need to give yourself permission to set down your work. It doesn’t define you. Then take a nap, watch a movie, or go for a walk. An easy recharge for me is going for a run outside, while a weekly recharge is spending a day or several days with friends and family with no agenda other than simply being.
For some, maybe this means taking a break from writing music to plant a garden. Everyone is different and just because you’re resting doesn’t mean you do nothing. You’re filling your creative bucket instead of expending all of your energy.
But then get back to it. Set a deadline for when you needed to pick up that pen or painting again—whatever it may be—and start.
As Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”