Creativity Prescription

Feeling saggy and flat in the creativity department? Is your muse off counting stars while you’re contemplating dust motes and peeling paint?

Don’t just sit there!  Motivation is within reach. Invest time in your interests!

The Creative Doldrums

It happens to us all at some point in a creative life. Whether rejection wears us down or a nasty review rains on our parade, sometimes the creative gig is a tough act. One of the biggest joy-robbers and energy-sappers is comparison, which I blogged about here. To hang in there for the long haul, we creative types have to look after our souls.

I know this well – probably because I keep having to relearn the lesson. I still catch myself comparing. I frequently run my tank dry, neglecting to nurture my spirit and feed my passions. I continue pushing myself to build a platform and develop my craft and conjure new ideas – all while working on existing projects (and holding down another demanding career and looking after a family).

The last thing I want to do is lose the joy of creativity.

Joys of The Zone

Solitude and quiet – they are the conditions creative people crave. We yearn for isolation, jealously carving out precious slabs of  distraction-free time in hopes of sidestepping any piddling thing that bars us from The Zone.

Ah, The Zone. A true creative sighs at the thought of those hours of deep concentration and prolific productivity, where time vanishes and ideas surge. The Zone is where we cast off the wet blanket of self and blissfully commune with our art. This sublime state in the zone is called flow.

Psychologists claim that flow is the key to fulfilment and happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, the researcher behind the concept of flow, holds that creativity gives meaning to life. He explains, “When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”

Perils of The Zone

The pull of the Zone is strong, so strong that it wouldn’t take much to become a Flow junkie: a malnourished, greasy-haired, bug-eyed and hunched recluse (with an astonishing body of work).

Balance, as always, is the key. Writers, illustrators, creatives of all types need to make sure we stretch – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Otherwise, we get stale and our art goes stagnant.

Just as important as creating and producing is feeding. The artistic soul needs nourishment and a varied diet. Make time for pursuits beyond your art and pursue them passionately. Discover new interests, tackle fresh challenges, and take some risks. It will make your creativity thrive.

Stoking the Creative Fire

Sometimes our ‘other interests’ come with restrictions. For instance, I know someone who is a scuba diving enthusiast, but it’s not the kind of activity she can do on a whim. It’s expensive, and it requires a lot of planning. Although scuba is her conduit to flow, she has to wait for her annual opportunity.

For others, travel kindles the creative flame. For me, a theatre ticket does the trick. Or choral music. Or a simple romp with my dogs.

Here’s a list of inexpensive, easy recharging activities to indulge in. They’re guaranteed to refresh the body, mind and spirit of creative people.

  • Attend a yoga class
  • taste wines at a vineyard
  • finger paint
  • go for a walk (read more here. Seriously, click the link to read one of my most under-appreciated posts)
  • even better, walk in the rain, savouring sounds and smells
  • visit (or volunteer) at an animal shelter
  • sort through old photos
  • help a child turn a big box into a fort
  • bake homemade focaccia (with or without olives)
  • research the name of your suburb or town
  • draw a rough family tree with the help of your oldest relative
  • visit an apothecary shop and ask for a love potion (just to see what happens)
  • whittle a block of soap into a dragon shape
  • visit (with an open mind) a variety of local places of worship
  • try on a formal outfit at a vintage clothing store
  • learn some useful phrases from a native speaker of another language
  • study the structure of bridges (or a structure you are unfamiliar with)
  • interview someone you admire (not related to your art)
  • join a music group (ukuleles and harmonicas can be bought cheaply)
  • play ping-pong. Or musical chairs.
  • search a cemetery for quirky headstones
  • shop at an ethnic grocery store and, with the owner’s assistance, buy a snack typical to that ethnicity.

Check your ulterior motives at the door: this isn’t the time to fossick for a story or a subject. Instead, attack the activity like a kid – for plain old fun.

Inspiration is bound to follow, but only if you let your enthusiasm take the lead.

Over to You

Do any of the activities in my list sound like fun? What do you do to avoid burnout and stoke your creative flame? Share your ideas and tips in the comments!

Image Credits: Graphics made by ME on Canva

13 responses to “Creativity Prescription”

  1. Hi Alison,
    Thanks for this insightful creativity post. Very timely reminders on what to do … and not to do once under the spell of being a zoned-out Flow junkie. Yes I know when I become that “bug-eyed hunched recluse.”
    Luckily, I know when to head for the Rainforest to hiked my way to body, mind, spirit balance. Happy writing to you … cheers, Karen Tyrrell author

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karen, I admire your commitment to regular rainforest walks. In fact, I was thinking of you as I wrote this post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I bake a lot! But that’s usually because I’m procrastinating. I find researching the history of something often leads to ideas for another story. I love walking through cemeteries. I’ve got some great character names off headstones. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that you find inspiration in cemeteries. I do too, but I hadn’t thought of them as a source for names. Baking is relaxing, but I tend to avoid it because I’m my biggest fan! Thanks for taking time to stop by and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great reminder to get into that creative zone more often. I like to walk (and just belatedly checked out your wonderful post about walking). I always thought it would be great fun to be part of a music group, too. Maybe someday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A music group does sound fun, doesn’t it? Today I saw a friend was looking for tap dancing classes, and I thought that would be fun. I have zero dancing talent and pretty awful rhythm, but maybe it wouldn’t matter with all the noise!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love these ideas. Ping pong is always good for a few laughs … even if your opponant is trying being competitive! I can’t wait to do some vintage ‘dress ups’ and whittle some soap dragons. Right now I’m listening to some music that brings back some really good memories. Thanks for the reminder to embrace the simple things in life, like my cozy bed and a good book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have a sudden urge to play ping pong! Actually, badminton (of the strictly non competent variety) is more my speed. Thanks for commenting!


  5. Definitely walking calms me as I trim my sails and venture to faraway lands full of mystique and wonder.

    My gorgeous Oscar is one of the most cuddly creatures I know so he and I spend long hours in therapy.

    Oh, and Reformer Pilates is another groovy way that gets me sorted.

    Great read. Thx Ali 😊💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely Deb! I wish Pilates had that effect on me. 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I admit, I experience burnout mostly because I have too much to juggle! It’s difficult having a full time job, writing/editing your own work, building community through social media, maintaining friendships/relationships, keeping up with books in the genre. It all takes time and energy and sometimes all I want to do is cover my head with a blanket and breathe. But, I find that I get most re-energized by taking time to get into nature or go to community/cultural events–the former for some peace, the second for inspiration and fun. Also, my creative community does wonders for lifting each other up and cheering each other on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so much to juggle! Reading your comment makes me feel like we’re kindred spirits. So glad you’ve visited, Brandilyn! I hope you have an inspiring weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m having a weekend of tall trees, which is inspiring, and a nephew explaining every episode of Transformers, which…no comment. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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