Several months ago – maybe even a year past, a friend asked me this question, “how do you do it?” (referring to the many projects I work on). I gave a quick answer without thinking much about it. I said to her “I don’t know – but one thing is for sure, I’m never bored”.
Whatever I figured I was gaining by giving a flippant answer, I surely have paid for many times over, with the countless months of thoughtful consideration I’ve had to dedicate to that answer. It has been food for my thoughts for oh sooo long.
Something about my answer rang sincere as soon as the words rolled thoughtlessly off my tongue. Yet I’d never consciously processed that thought before she asked the question. After a lot of consideration, I can truly say now that boredom plays a major role in my creativity. But definitely not in the way I said it does!!! Creativity is not the reason I’m not bored. Absolutely not!!! I create because I get bored – Boredom is THE reason I create. Phew… there I said it!!!!!!!!!
Symptoms of A Creative Slump
I get so bored in a creative slump. And I like the challenge of doing something I don’t know how to do. I love to be able to explore and discover. I like to venture into unknown territories. When I don’t venture far enough I get bored, I start losing interest. (I hint at that in episode 17 of stitch the sketch.)
When I embarked on this year long project, I thought I was going to make simple and quick studies in stitch that will take a few minutes … at most a couple of hours of my time. But as the weeks rolled by, I realized that when I stuck with the simple, the already ventured, the already tried ideas, there was no thrill in it for me anymore – I got bored. And then I have no desire to keep doing it. But as soon as I kept pushing the envelope beyond what I already know, there’s renewed interest to keep me working on the project.
Today, I came across an article – “Try Something Hard“- in which the author recently performed research on creative people and their careers. What she discovered was that most of the creative people she interviewed excelled at things they had initially found very difficult to do.
Cure for A Creative Slump
The interesting thing was that contrary to popular belief, these creative folks did not end up in careers that were natural or easy fits. They ventured into careers at which they were not so good. The beginning was hard for them. They struggled through things they didn’t really have a knack for and then BOOM!!!… They were doing extraordinary things.
So now we know one cure for a creative slump – research just proved it. When you feel like your creative juices are drying up, it could well be that you’re bored with what you’re doing. Things have become too simple. You may know that process too well or you’ve used that technique too often. Try something new and difficult and scary. That may well be all you need to get yourself out of that creative slump.
Questions: What methods do you use to get out of a creative slump? Do you take on personal or group challenges? Do you find yourself getting bored with what you do sometimes?
Join me in the comments section for a discussion.
Alvin Weiss says
Thanks for your ideas.
I do three things consistently.
1.) – I keep my ideas – regardless of how bizarre – in EVERnote. I have a notebook called “Idea Farm.” When I have any idea, I put it into my EVERnote Idea Farm / Zoo.
2.) – I watch TEDTAlks almost every night in bed using my tablet. I sleep better now. My dreams are kinda strange but entertaining. And I have more and different ideas during the day since I started doing this. And stopped spending mindless time with NetFlix movies.
3.) – I read different materials online – even if I don’t think it would interest me. Sometimes these articles / blogposts / news items are just selected randomly or intentionally.
Alvin, how very generous of you to share all these great points about how you personally keep yourself out of a creative slump. Thanks for sharing.
Very interesting post. I find myself over-thinking things too much, going over the what ifs in my mind before trying something new, and realize I’m trying to talk myself out of it because it “probably won’t work out right”. Things often don’t work out the way I had planned (or hoped) but that’s such a great part of the process! Ive been taking a weekly clay class, and I’ve found that working in a totally different medium has helped me feel more of a creative spark in general.
Laura, you’re so right. I find myself doing the same thing. As I explain in another post, when I find myself in that position, I give myself a four-word speech which goes like this, “Clara, force a decision”. We don’t need to have it all figured out before we start!!
Working in a different medium is certainly a great way to spark creativity because it presents new challenges. A challenge, something different- gets the creative wheels moving again.