When You Feel Stuck

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Do you ever feel stuck?

Sometimes I feel like the path that I am currently travelling used to look vibrant and exciting and new, but now all the scenery has blended into familiarity. I feel like I start to go on autopilot at this point and excitement sometimes gets equated to striking another thing off of my to-do list.

I’ve been in this creative slump for a couple of months. I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve been noticing that my desire to make and create gets overpowered by my own negative thoughts:

It’s probably a bad idea anyway…

I don’t have enough time…

Someone else will probably be better…

This is called the comfort zone. It doesn’t do much for you.

I’ve been here though. For weeks. It has made me fundamentally restless and it has given me way too much space to think.

If you are like me, you have a lot of thoughts and ideas and goals, and sometimes all the thinking is just paralyzing. I don’t know where to start. I talk myself out of it. I talk myself down.

What I’ve started to do recently, again, is channelling all that energy into making something new. Anything. I used to do this way more often when my inhibition mattered less than expressing myself and my imagination was more attractive than making everyone love my work.

This isn’t a formula. It’s a philosophy or a state of mind. It takes some mental effort, but if you can look at hurdles and setbacks as a problem to solve or a creative challenge rather than a roadblock, I promise that life will not only get more interesting, but you’ll feel more accomplished and learn so much more about what you are capable of.

Think actively rather than passively. Sitting there worrying doesn’t help. Get up and think of solutions. Rather than letting your mind get overwhelmed by ideas or thoughts, write them down, or turn them into a painting or a conversation or a business plan.

One thing I’m realizing about myself is that my creativity is so much bigger than I thought. I used to think that writing was my primary creative medium. I’ve spent years exploring different styles and refining my own voice in this medium.

However, when I wasn’t writing, I still had space in my life that wasn’t being fulfilled creatively because I wasn’t filling it in any other way. I think I started burning out a bit because I wasn’t regenerating or refreshing my perspective. I had no creative fallback. I was locked into one medium and I was starting to cramp.

I’ve been playing with film and photography recently. Words are beautiful and effective, but image is powerful as well. Since I’ve started exploring this new arena of creative interest, I’ve found myself more inspired to work than I’ve been in such a long time. I’m using my mind and my body in different ways and that change helps me think of so many different ideas.

Pair thinking with doing. Don’t shut off your brain while you work with your hands, and don’t sit still and do nothing but think. These things need to work in tandem to function in the healthiest, most productive way for you. Give yourself options, as well, and rotate through them. Go on a walk,  cook something, have a conversation, cross something off of the “to do” list that has caused you stress for a while, make a film, play a sport- anything, really, to shift your brain into a new perspective. And when you are met with challenges, see them as another chance to be creative.

That’s where I’m at right now, and it is teaching me so much about myself and what it means to be healthy. I challenge you to try it to. Don’t lock yourself in. Do something different. Shake up your routine. Try to look at the world through new eyes.

It might reveal more than you expect.

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