Monday, August 1, 2011

Creative Slump

After a really productive and inspired late spring and early summer, I hit a creative slump - you know the one where it feels like all of your ideas have evaporated and you panic because you don't know when a new set will show up?

Yep, that's me!

At first when it hit, I just tried to ride it out and enjoy the downtime. I figured, like most blocks, if I ignored it it would go away. Well after several weeks, I started getting frustrated, because it was still there.

So then, I started to take my own advice. I got up on the opposite side of the bed, tried new foods, met old friend in new locations, but nothing.

Last week, I thought the slump had been broken. Things in my life began to shift, and I felt change was approaching. I rode this wave for a couple of days, but it didn't last, and I ended up back in my dry spell.

As I enter the second month of this creative slump, I am desperately looking for a breakthrough. That is why I am turning to you, my loyal readers.
  • Tell me how you've overcome a creative slump.


Tim said...

Hi Melanie:

I've been there before and hopefully getting out of a slump now. Judging from your bio, you've probably done this, but trips to the art museum always help me. If you visit the same one, try one that you don't visit very often. I also like going to book stores and seeing live performances...I especially like going to the small storefront theaters in Chicago. Maybe you have one in your town? Oh, and I've tried the George Castanza approach...doing the opposite of what you'd normally do. Surprisingly, it has worked a few times for me.

Oh well, not sure if that helped...but hang in there and good luck!

MELANIE said...

Tim ~ I loved your ideas and the George Costanza approach made me smile - I might just give that one a try!

I appreciate the support.

Tanner Christensen said...

Sorry to hear about your recent slump Melanie.

Two things have worked for me:

1. Realize that you may simply be creatively worn out. Trying to force (or constantly striving for) a creative mindset can only make matters worse if this is the case. Instead, try relaxing. Take a vacation and really put everything behind you. You might need the break.

2. Attempt something new. Apart from trying to put yourself into new situations, try to creatively do something new (try papercraft or a papermation video, live improv, karaoke). Anything that will have you do something creative, in a way you haven't done before, without worrying what the outcome may provide.

Most importantly: hang in there! Slumps do end, they always do.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melanie,

My sympathies with your slump. The artist I interviewed in Memphis, Steve "Voice of Golden Eagle" Cox, said the first thing to do is to know that you have creative ebbs and flows and not to stress too much when the tide is out. He said you should just keep busy with administrative tasks, etc. That said, it's hard to just let it go when it's been a couple of months.

I just went on a creative tear about a week ago when my subconscious while sleeping returned to a project I had put aside a few months ago. I'm now working on that as a submission for my latest MFA packet and may seek to have it published. Is there some project that excited you once that you put aside for some reason, a few months or even years ago? Maybe you should dig it out, and see if you're inspired to add to it your growth since that time.

Carrie said...

Hi Melanie,
I find taking an art class in a new medium or in a material I'm already familiar with can get me painting again. Sometimes having another person's structure imposed on me can loosen me up. Best of luck getting unstuck!

Anonymous said...

Funny how creative output truly does ebb and flow. When things are ebbing it's natural to miss the flow!
I've found that the greatest boost I can offer my creativity is clarity. I am most creative when I am very clear about what I want to address, explore, or express.

Even though the creative process benefits from open-ended exploration, it has been my experience that exploration feels most exciting when it is grounded with intent.

What do you want to address, explore or express?
I look forward to seeing what will be next : )

Kira Campo

Noah Garcia said...

Hi Melanie,

We all have our moments of being in a slump. I like to get fresh air, go on a nature photography shoot, arts and crafts with my daughters-they can give me some creative ideas, and sometimes simply relaxing and enjoying a good movie can give me ideas. Enjoy your creative journey :-)

Jan said...

Here are some quick ideas:

Babysit for someone. I have kids, but babysat for a friend the other day and within five minutes of arriving was transported into a different world of play and creativity.

Don't produce. Consume. Read, go to a gallery.

Copy someone's work. Literally. If there's a writer you like, pull out a blog post, a story, a poem and type it -- word for word. Your fingers will absorb the rhythm, the phrasing.

Doodle with your non-dominant hand.

Try a creative outlet you've never tried before. (Version of this: When I'm tired of writing, I love to do collage art.)

Change the environment. Turn your desk a different direction. Change the photos in your room.

Exercise regularly.

Follow The Artist's Way approach of journaling every morning. Huge help.

If you start doing self-talk re: how completely blocked you are, STOP IT. Visualize a stop sign every time you start the negative self talk and force yourself to think of something else.

And know that we've all been there.