How to Deal with a Creative Slump

Lots of artists experience a creative slump from time to time. This is how I deal with a creative slump - you may find one of these four ideas helpful next time you lack artistic motivation.  (Below is my daughter and her friend distinctly NOT lacking in creativity - more about them later!).

Children NOT lacking in creativity!

Analyse why you are having a creative slump

It is important to identify why it is that you are experiencing a creative slump. In my experience, it is caused by a lack of energy and/or not having the headspace to be creative. Consider what is going on in your life.  At the moment, for example, I have been finding it difficult to muster any enthusiasm as there is a lot going on. My husband has started a new job, and while this is a welcome development, there has been a lot of stress and uncertainty with this new move. My daughter has just started school - overall she is enjoying it, but she is not sleeping well at night as a result - and so I am also not sleeping much! I have also increased my hours which I work in my day job, which has led to more pressure on my time. Finally, I have had a cold and a terrible eczema outbreak, which has impacted on my energy levels. All of this has led to me not feeling as creative as I usually am.

Getting inspiration from a creative friend

Address the root cause

Once you have identified why you are unable to be creative, you are in a position to do something about it. For me, this means that I have to recognise the need to take a break, and replenish my energy levels. This week, for example, I have treated myself to watching a French crime drama every night; focused on going to bed early; and accepted that sometimes it's ok not to put too much pressure on yourself. I have also been careful to look after my health and well-being in a wider sense, by juicing regularly, and making sure I spend time out of doors doing exercise.  I have also made a point of spending time with supportive friends (see my colleague and friend Rhona above - both supportive and creative!). Being kind to myself, and intentionally putting more into my ‘energy bank’ very often helps restore my creative streak.


Seek inspiration from other artists

During this creative slump, I have made time to go and visit a number of exhibitions to seek inspiration from other artists. I went to Edinburgh to Modern Art Gallery, seeing the work of Emil Nolde. Another afternoon was spent in Dundee, looking at the final exhibitions of the art graduates that year. This weekend, I've been enjoying Perthshire Open Studios.  For me, seeing the work of others can spark ideas in my mind about how my art can develop, and bring to an end a creative slump.

Laying out tools ready for cutting

Simple tasks which still push forward your creativity

It can be extremely helpful to write out a very detailed to-do list of a creative task you have in mind, but which you feel daunted by. In breaking the task down into chunks, not only do you make it seem more manageable, you can also identify things that appeal to your frame of mind at that point in time. In the evenings, frequently I don't have the energy to do anything that involves my brain because I have to get up at 5 a.m. with our daughter. However, I do have the physical energy to do something that doesn't involve any thinking. Very often then, I find myself tidying my studio, and laying everything out but I will need to do a particular task. This is not necessarily being creative, but it is making it easy for me to be creative when I next have the space and opportunity, and can immediately get to work. Another example is that it requires more concentration for me to lay out and design a linocut, than it does to cut out a piece of lino. Therefore, I tend to do my design work early in the day when I have more energy, but I can cut out a piece of lino well into the evening as I am so familiar with the process and do not need to concentrate as much.

Sewing Bee

Do creative activities with others

Even if you are not feeling creative, someone else might be! It can be motivating to participate in a creative activity with someone else. During winter months, I attend a regular Sewing Bee. Very often, I don't feel like doing sewing after work because I am so tired, but when I get to Sewing Bee and meet my friends, I can progress a project and have fun at the same time. I love doing art activities with my daughter and her friends, as their unbridled approach to creativity can often trigger my own ideas. Finally, it can be fun to share my knowledge with other people, and it can lead to conversations about potential projects which on your own, you may never have considered. In making this lampshade with my friend Rhona last week, we ended up having a discussion about how a lampshade could be adapted and tailored to fit a family heirloom piece of furniture.

What about you? How do you break a creative slump?

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