It happens to all of us and despite how frustrating it feels, doesn't make you less of an artist. I've never known anyone to feel inspired all the time, and over the past few years I've developed some strategies for dealing with my less-than-inspiring moments - here are 5!
1. Check-in on Self-care
This one seems basic but has been so much more helpful that I thought it would. Inspiration comes and goes, especially for those of us with ADHD, and to a certain extent - it's natural. In my experience though, those low, uninspired moments happen far more frequently when my self-care is lacking. These days when I'm in a creative lull, I hit "pause" on creating for a few hours and give back to my body in the form of yummy snacks, a cup of tea, a walk outside and occasionally, a snuggly nap. Almost always I emerge feeling more myself and ready to create!
Tip for trying: Beyond the basics of food, water, movement & rest - check-in on your social & emotional needs. Have you been feeling isolated? If so, you might get inspired by connecting with a loved one. Too much social stimulation? A restful moment to yourself might be just want you need to get the creative juices flowing.
2. Revisit Older Works
As creatives, our practice evolves with time and it can be easy to focus on moving "forward" by constantly creating new works. This can be exhausting however, so in moments where I'm feeling a bit lost, I've started turning to my older pieces and seeing what I can learn from them. Often I'll set an older piece out so I can admire it for a few days, which will lead me to dig out some supplies that have been in storage a while. Next thing you know, I'm combining some older ideas with newer ones and the creativity begins to flow! Our own personal archives can be great sources of hidden inspiration that are free-to-access and uniquely us.
Tip for trying: If you don't have many of your older pieces laying around, try scrolling to the start of your social media account or flipping to the early pages of your sketchbook. There are lots of ways to revisit older works!
3. Start Scrolling
We live in an age where the internet offers us the opportunity to explore new artwork, constantly. No need to get up, get dressed, go to your local museum and spend the day wandering (although I do love & recommend that if it's possible!) - if you're reading this blogpost, you can open a new tab right now and explore. Try starting with one of your favorite artists and pull some keywords from their bio, then search around with those. If you're active on social media, experiment with new hashtags and see what comes up - there's so much out there and you never know what will spark a creative idea or two!
Tip for trying: It can be easy to compare our work to others but as they say, "comparison is the thief of joy" - so try to carve out space while searching & scrolling for curiosity instead of comparison. Asking questions like, "I wonder how they did that?" or "How could I adjust that technique to work for me?" will lead to open-ended, creative lines of thinking that allow you and others to thrive together!
4. Ask for Input
One of the benefits of being part of the art world is that there are always fellow artists & creatives around to offer input when you need it. When I'm stuck with a piece and don't have much direction or creative drive, I'll post it on my stories and ask for ideas. It's always interesting to hear other folks' perspectives and sometimes there's an idea or two that inspires me to get back to creating! The art world can be a wonderfully supportive place and that alone gives me inspiration.
Tip for trying: If you're working on listening to your inner creative voice and feel that outside input might cloud that, consider phrasing your question differently. Asking folks, "what would you do next?" or "what do you see in this piece?" puts the focus on them and their insights, vs. "what should I do next?" putting the emphasis on you are your process. One of my favorite questions to ask is, "how does this piece make you feel?" - simple, personal and always leads to some interesting responses.
5. Press Pause
If you've tried the strategies above and it's still not working, give yourself permission to press pause for a few hours, days or even longer. Humans are creative beings but that doesn't mean we were built to creative 24/7/365, so allow yourself time to pursue other things. When I take a day or two off of creating, I usually call loved ones to catch up, do tons of laundry and reorganize my space. This is usually restorative for me and allows me space to recharge before getting back to my creative process. I know pressing pause sounds counter-intuitive but I highly recommend trying it if nothing else is working!
Tip for trying: If you're worried you'll loose momentum by taking a break, set yourself up to start again by cleaning up your creative space and dedicating some time in the near-future to your practice. A simple desk re-org and calendar reminder can bring you back to the creative world if you start to get side-tracked by the rest of your busy life.
These 5 strategies have worked for me countless times but there are so many more floating around out there! If you've got a go-to practice for when you're struggling to feel inspired, let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Instagram. Happy creating!