Prior to leaving on our time in Michigan, I was struggling with my creative energy. Being worn out from the first-trimester ickiness that wasn’t completely planned and then a long few months of tying up about four brand projects. Things felt pretty out of control, and I no longer was feeling very creative.
We all can relate in one way or another. Creative energy has an ebb and flow. It was part of my fear in college when I decided to venture out into making money being a creative. Keeping consistent creative energy is so difficult and changes all the time.
Over the last few years as work has gotten busier, Mike joined the company, and the prices have gone up on our work, the expectations have risen as well. This means that creative blocks don’t have as much space to have their moment like they used to. Here is how we have learned to adapt, accept, and move forward from the hardest of all blocks and burnout.
- Take a break:
This sounds crazy especially when you have a deadline or when you have rent to pay, but breaking away and not trying to push through is the number one answer to removing the pain of a block. What do we do? How long do we do it? This all depends. We have done everything from taking six weeks off to just going to the gym. It all depends on where we are at and what we need. Larger amounts of time off are not common, but most of the time we choose to take an hour or two. We will go to the gym and grab some lunch or dinner and take a shower and just give ourselves a good reset. Sometimes we need to call it quits early and binge on some Netflix while eating dinner. Sometimes we just need a nap. Creativity is fragile and temperamental so listen to what your body needs. When you feel good, physically your creativity will have more clarity and room to be itself again.
- Create Structure:
The best thing we have done for ourselves since returning home has been setting a serious schedule. I use to work from my to-do list in my head and my mess of a calendar. Mike worked from an ongoing list in his Evernote. We each had our ways. When we arrived back home we both created a daily to-do list within Evernote that shows day-by-day what we plan to do. Each morning we talk through our schedule together and go over key things we have coming up and then get to work on whatever the day holds. We focus our most creative work at the beginning of the day. Email, paperwork, and meetings happen in the afternoon. Writing or any additional emailing are left to the evening if necessary. What results from this new structured life is us using our freshest minds earlier in the day which means our best creative energy is spent on those things rather than on checking email first thing in the morning. This gives us room to focus and create knowing that everything else will be complete that day. We also aren’t distracted by email or other things that can take us away from remaining focused.
- Have a Friend to Bounce off of:
Whether you work for yourself or have a business partner, having someone you trust to critique and talk through your creative projects with is critical. Just a few weeks ago Mike was working on a logo project for a client, he felt frustrated with how it was coming together. To help him out, we sat together, and I offered fresh eyes and perspective. If he hadn’t had me he would have tried working on it for a few more hours, lost more sleep, and never felt a clear direction when he already had three great ideas to send along. Having a friend you trust creatively to give fresh eyes and perspective can bring new insights or clarity to what you are working on.
- Shift Your Rituals:
How you begin your day can easily affect how the rest of your day goes. We used to wake up to calls from clients about down sites or schedule meetings erratically throughout the day. The stress it all created was too much and made it hard to be good at our creative work. We decided to take back our mornings. Now, we are up around 7 or 8 making breakfast. We enjoy our breakfast, sometimes I sketch or draw, Mike will read, it doesn’t matter what we do as long as it isn’t about the work ahead for the day. We ease in. Shifting this up has made the rest of our day calmer and more conducive to creating.
- Take Care of Thyself:
If you aren’t healthy, neither is your creative energy. I used to count on a few glasses of wine to get me in the mood to write in the evenings, but the next day I would feel groggy and out of it. Then I began the cycle of needing caffeine to bounce back and then the wine to relax later. I wasn’t working out, and I was eating okay, but I wasn’t eating right for me and what I needed. I for sure wasn’t drinking enough water. Before getting pregnant Mike and I tapered off of alcohol (which saves a lot of money) and began purposely scheduling workouts and healthy eating into our lives. The result, clearer brains and more energy throughout the day. We don’t get the drop off in the middle of the day and can get much more done. It has helped me remain consistent with my creativity especially in the moments I need it on demand.
I would love to hear some ways you break creative blocks and keep creative clarity throughout your day? I love learning what you do to keep the juices flowing.