How to rediscover inspiration and creativity when it eludes you…
It rolled in like a dense fog. Casting a blanket over my brain, like the thick mist that rolls in off the ocean, curling over rooftops, creeping down streets… when hot meets cool, elements colliding. Clouding through-ways, clouding my vision. Thoughts coming to a halt, refusing to move forward. Stuck. Panic sets in, my desperation for ideas to appear the very thing keeping them at bay. Forced actions, pinched writing, a twitching nerve that can’t be relaxed. Call it what you will — creative block… writer’s block… a little of both — it’s not good. Being creative is my job, writing thousands of words a week. And when those words won’t come?
Blame the full moon.
Blame the season.
Blame the nature of February.
Play the blame game, and then seek a solution.
My inspiration and creativity had left me, wandered to some far off corner and snuggled in and I was left to coax it back out again.
But life doesn’t stop just because you’re left groping in the dark for some intangible aspect of yourself that’s suddenly taken leave. There were blog posts to be written, images to be captured, things to be made. And I suddenly found myself standing in the aisles of a well-loved but infrequently visited artist supply store, staring at sketchbooks, rows of brushes, well-organized ranks of markers and oil sticks, and the painting supplies, my reason for being there in the first place. Running my hand over the soft edges of rives paper and stacks of Strathmore drawing pads, a surge of memories coursed through me. The smell of paints bringing me back to college, when I’d pile into my too-small car with too many friends and classmates to make our weekly supply run, filling the trunk with tubs of gesso and bookmaking supplies and rolls of different-textured papers. Then, the sight of those small bricks of clay calling to mind the way their colors swirled in my hands as I sat in my mother’s kitchen and made beads and small animals and food for my dollhouse kitchen. The materials were all the same, their packaging unchanged, old friends revisited. After shouldering the supplies I came for, I grabbed a few extra necessities — some paint brushes, a mixed media sketchbook — and made a promise to go back.
Returning home, I opened my closet to put away the newly acquired supplies and came face to face with… more supplies. Boxes of watercolors, a half-used sketchbook, a box filled with 11 used rolls of film, stacks of old ReadyMades (think Pinterest before there was Pinterest)… clearly I’ve been here before. I pulled each piece out, my fingers examining the exteriors, remembering the past experiences that brought me to purchasing them; tasks and projects, similar times of mental strife. The innate desire to create has persisted, even when the actual act of creating was particularly fraught. And so I put them to use. Paints emptied, pencils sharpened, a shaky line drawn.
Creativity is like a muscle — you can build it up, work it, flex it but, when allowed to soften, it’s not as easily regained. Lack of inspiration can foul even the most creative soul, and it’s because of this that the only answer is to push through. Be reminded of why you started in the first place — the soft paper’s edge, the feeling of clay giving way between warmed palms, the colorful and exciting aisles of supplies begging to be experimented with — and then soldier on. Write through it. Be sloppy. Use too many metaphors. And then come out the other side better for it. Allow yourself the idea that eventually the dam will break, the fog will lift, all is not lost to life’s Lost & Found… unless you allow it to be.