It happens to all of us at some point. We get in a funk, whether it be an emotional, physical, mental or work related, these funks are bound to happen at some point. Our friend Dan Duffy recently wrote a Huffington Post article about his case of writers block that lasted him nearly 6 months. They’re discouraging, I know, but ultimately it’s how you handle it that matters. I recently got into one of these funks where I just felt washed up. Creatively I felt drained and everything I wrote looked like gibberish, nothing was good enough to meet my own standards. More than anything, I wanted to get out of this mental block and gain the motivation. I knew I could kick ass, so what was getting in my way? Me. I was.
Here are a few tricks that helped me find my way through my creative famine.
Time and Space
Everyone will be different when it comes to their ways to gain motivation, but this is what helped me break through my blockage and allowed me to dive back into the creative waters. A mistake I was making was scheduling too much for myself, especially too many creative heavy items, at the same time. It felt like, “Erica, go sit in your office from 12:00pm-3:00pm and be brilliant. GO GO GO! Write pretty words! Say something witty!”
I was putting too much pressure on myself, and ultimately, I was standing in my own way. Instead of feeling like I had to get something during a certain time period, I gave myself an end date of when I needed to be completed, and I just carried on with my day. This might sound odd, but I needed that time to clear my head. I went to lunch with a friend and held a 3-week old baby for an hour (let me tell you, that is the BEST way to decompress), and on my drive back to the office, I had tons of ideas and angles floating around in my head and I was excited to start writing. That feeling, that is the feeling I had been looking and waiting for.
Some of my favorite ideas come when I’m not trying to force them. There have been times I have come home from work, I’m making dinner and all of a sudden it comes to me. The idea I’ve been waiting for, after hours of sitting in front of a computer screen. When you allow your mind to be free and don’t have any constraints, it’ll come to you.
Sometimes music helps me, and sometimes it can be a major distraction depending on the work I’m doing. If I’m trying to brainstorm and just come up with creative concepts, the thing that works best for me is to close my door, crank some music (and I won’t lie, it’s usually something pretty embarrassing and odd. I’ve done some of my best work listening to Spice Girls) and just play around with ideas. That’s my time to be free and some of the ideas might be a little too crazy or wacky, but it gets the creative juices flowing. If I’m trying to write, it usually works best to turn off all distractions, like Facebook messenger and email pop ups, turn the Do Not Disturb on my phone and just put my head down and power through. When I’m in that mode, the last thing I want is an interruption to derail my creative train.
I love brainstorming and playing with ideas and concepts with other people. It can feel like a game or a comedy skit sometimes, throwing out ideas and playing off of one concept until you build a new one, and that is a great way to get input from others and help get you out of a place of discouragement and feeling confident, and honestly, really happy. This is something Dan and I will often do when we’re pulling together a video script or concept for a client. From the outside, it might look or sound like we are complete idiots, but we get to play off of each other’s ideas and create fun and exciting content that is collaborative and strong.
After suffering through this creative drought for a few weeks, I feel great knowing I found some tools and tricks that worked for me. If you’re ever in a similar situation, give them a try, and know you’re not alone. You might feel like you’re the only person who has ever felt this way, but find someone to talk to and you’ll see it’s a common occurrence. Maybe it was a full moon, Mercury was in retrograde or there was a shift in the atmosphere. Regardless of the cause, once you make it through the funk, you’ll come out on the other side with some of the best creative work. Trust me.