Alternate title for this post: When you're out of ideas and fear that you may never do anything creative again.
I have found that in my creative process - and maybe in yours, too?- there are times where I feel like everything I've made is garbage and that I will never write anything worth anything ever again. This is what Anne Lamott refers to as Bad Mind. When Bad Mind bullies my poor Inner Artist, she stops working. I stop writing, or if I write I stop sharing it, or if it makes it into my queue on Squarespace, I never publish it. Then I feel The Guilt because I see what some other bloggers are producing, and I wish my stuff looked like that but I know that only comes from actually posting content, and then me and Bad Mind just sit together and glower at the Artist for not producing better stuff, and the poor gal just can't work in that environment.
Earlier today I was folding some laundry and talking to Jesus, confessing my frustration with my seeming lack of motivation in this really dry spell, and He told me a few things, and it's funny that as He was telling me I was thinking, this is a blog post, I should go type this out right now! So I've done that and included those words for you, in case you're in the same spot, or if you find yourself in that spot someday.
Give Thanks for the Gift
During our talk, I was reminded that creativity is a gift, and that I shouldn't get angry or resentful or give in to shame when my creativity doesn't look the same as someone else's, or even the same as my own from a different season. Remembering that creativity is a gift indiscriminately given to all of us as humans helped me to believe that I could start making again. Creativity is our natural state. It also took me from the place of Ungrateful Victim to the place of Hopeful Receiver- and I think you can guess which of those places it's easier to create from...
Tap into the Source
One of my mantras from The Artist's Way is "I am connected to the Source of infinite creativity." Colossians 2.3 says, "All treasures of wisdom + knowledge are hidden in Him." When the well has run dry, I think it's totally appropriate to pray and ask God for creativity, to ask Him for fresh revelations and eyes that see. This restores the creative relationship to how it best functions- with God inspiring and us just taking it down. And what an adventure to press in to God, looking for those treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him, rather than wailing and gnashing our teeth and trying to pull art out of dried up souls.
Use your Hands
Have you ever had a popcorn kernel stuck in your teeth, way too far back to reach with your tongue? Usually, the thing will work itself out while you're doing something else, and what a relief! When the ideas are lodged too deep in my brain to get to right away, I often go to my kitchen and cook something. I'm still creating- zucchini bread or coconut cream pie or whatever it may be- but that idea is also working itself out while I reconnect with my hands. Sometimes when a song isn't quite ready to come out, Robin mows the grass or hangs some shelves (we're always hanging shelves around here). He's still creating, he's just letting the song come when it's ready. If you feel like you're out of ideas, go do something with your hands- crochet or cook or garden or fold laundry or braid your kid's hair. The idea will present itself in time, and you'll have the pleasure of seeing a job through from start to finish, something we often don't get to enjoy.
Give Yourself Some Credit + Remain Hopeful
I realized that, while I'm not as on top of my craft as I would like to be, I am still being creative. Right now, I'm doing this big creative work of making a baby, and trying to prepare our home for that baby. I'm dreaming up new pie recipes and trying to be creative in the way I encourage my husband. I'm sitting under a mentor and learning a lot of new skills. The Artist isn't sitting there counting the ceiling tiles, she's just working on a lot of different things.
It felt really good to get this out (popcorn kernel dislodged, haha)- to get something inspired and made and shared, and I hope it's encouraging to you. Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear if there's anything you do to move through a creative dry spell...