My boyfriend and I make the joke that 7 is our pup’s favorite number. No rhyme or reason got us there, but it’s a thing we often turn to just for a laugh. I’ve noticed that those out-of-the-box funny moments have been even more important lately.
We’re all still in the middle of unprecedented times. According to reports and fluctuations in the US Census, there was a 31% spike in Americans who self-reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. The numbers jumped from 11% in 2019 to 42% as of December 2020.
The impact of these times over the last year is undeniable and also limitless. It impacts our personal life, just as much as our professional lives. It changes the course of our creativity and the habits we turn to during creative blocks.
I’ve personally noticed that I’m trying exert more control over those in-between times, not just so I can continue creating, but so I can feel more attuned with myself even when I’m not creating.
The in-between time isn’t a waste of time…
One of my favorite personal examples of this is a creator friend Brittany Xavier. She’s known for her unmatched looks on Instagram and during an in-between time last year found herself exploring TikTok. Since launching her own account she went from 0 followers to 3.7M followers.
If she would have discredited her in-between time as a waste of time simply because she wasn’t creating in the ways she was used to, she may have missed the opportunity to find a new way to connect with her audience.
Reframing creative lulls as pockets of time to discover new opportunities could be the difference maker you’ve been looking for.
Living your life is how you inspire your work…
I’ve built my writing career by pulling from my own lived experience and turning them into essays. That got a bit harder in the last year. My life was limited to the four walls of our apartment and it felt like inspiration did not live there, we just did.
Then I was reminded of that saying “wherever you go, there you are,” same goes with your life. It’s there, even if the external environment isn’t changing.
I found inspiration when I realized I could write about my life without leaving my living room. People connected to the process of getting a puppy, how grief finds you wherever you are, or the joys of an established mental wellness routine.
Connection doesn’t require physical meetings…
After a year of Zoom, I know this sounds redundant, but hear me out — I’m asking for you to do more than connect with your current network. If you can’t go outside to the world yet, have the world come to you.
One of my favorite books, Reach Out by Molly Beck, teaches you how to send the perfect cold email (and why you should do it daily) in order to continue to expand the perspectives you fold into your work and network.
Pick up something you are good at…
The key here is to make sure it isn’t work-related. You want something that’s an easy win, so that it can serve as a reminder that you’re capable and able to do things well.
Having a run of days where everything is going wrong is defeating, but it’s also depleting. They help feed the voices in your mind that try to convince you that you suck and can’t do anything well. Interrupt their conversation by proving them wrong.
Pick up something you have no idea if you are good at…
Do this only after you’ve followed through on gaining a small win. You’ll want to pick something easy and that you can be a student at. Sometimes what we need the most in the middle of a creative rut is to remember that we’re not the expert at everything and that there’s a joy (and a necessary release in this).
The more that you can be a student of the world, the easier it is to not feel like you have to chase perfection.
Phone a friend…
You need to cut yourself a break if you’ve been trying to be your own motivational coach for the majority of your hard days. We all need a friend who can help build us up when we can’t do it for ourselves anymore.
Being honest about your pain-points to someone else also helps hold you accountable, allows you to listen to how farfetched or real your fears may be, and can give you a sounding board to brainstorm next steps with.
Eventually something will go right…
The goal is to find a way to make you a part of the equation of why it went right in the first place. I believe in the Universe working in our favor as much as the next person, but I also know that it’s necessary to our well-being to establish a sense of agency in how our life unfolds.
It’s the best reminder that life doesn’t just happen to us, even in the middle of the worst spells, we can happen to it.