It feels like your head has literally dried up and just won’t think.
Ideas have stopped coming. Even if they did arrive you are not sure that you have the energy to do anything good with them.
You’ve felt this coming on for a while but just kept pushing on with the work that you had in hand. Now you can’t advance what you are doing nor can you think of something new to do.
It’s frustrating because you know you should be creating. You should be working consistently. But you just can’t. There’s nothing left anymore.
You have to nourish yourself. Always
As a creative you spend a lot of time giving out, stretching yourself and living beyond your comfort zone. In order to do that into the long haul you need to look after yourself.
It’s like a car. It will take you where you want to go but you have to give it fuel at regular intervals. It will also run for a while with no additional maintenance but eventually you will start to get problems. If you maintain it regularly you will prevent breakdown, it will be cheaper in the long run and you will always be able to rely on it.
To look after yourself you have to feed yourself what your creative soul wants. This might be anything from regular visits to an art gallery, daily walks in nature, swimming fifty lengths at the local pool or a really strong cup of coffee before 7am.
Your work can deplete you
Even when you are in the flow with your creative work, you still need to watch out for depletion. It can happen because you are excited about your work, you want to get as much done as possible and so you work and work and work. If you are not careful, somewhere along the line you will get overtired and then you start feeling burnt out. Now the work won’t come anymore. It is not as good and free flowing. It has changed from something that was fun into a painful ordeal.
The artist date
A good way to guard against overwork, especially when you are in the flow is do a regular artist date. In the book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests doing this on a weekly basis, or twice a week if you are working exceptionally hard on your project.
An artist date is a date with yourself where you spend an hour or two doing something that nourishes you and replenishes your creative well. Ideas for artist dates may be going to see a film, taking time to browse in a favourite shop, visiting a gallery or exhibition, taking a walk at a local beauty spot or taking the time to sit somewhere that inspires you while enjoying your favourite beverage.
Artist dates are an opportunity to do things that you never normally give yourself the time to do. They don’t have to cost much money, in fact depending on what you want to do it might be free, and they don’t have to take oodles of time. They should also be done alone. This is your time to replenish yourself according to your agenda and is not for the benefit of anyone else.
When I take that time out for myself in this way I usually come up with ideas for my writing and I also find affirmation that I am doing the right thing in my life by making effort with my creativity. When I am worn out and feel that my work or writing is getting too hard or onerous, then I realise that I am probably overdue for an artist date.
You must look after yourself as a creative. We need to know what you have to say and you have to be in a fit state to say it. Filling the creative well doesn’t have to be costly or take a lot of time. With regular, fun top-ups then you will be in a good mental and physical condition to reach your creative potential.
Over to you
How do you stop yourself from getting depleted? What’s your favourite way of recharging. Please share in the comments below. We all need your inspiration.
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Every month I also share the ups and downs of my own creative journey – but only email subscribers get that insider view.