It’s funny how the white space on a blank page has the ability to make me feel like it is laughing at me, mocking me. As ridiculous as it sounds, I have a tendency, as I’m sure do many other writers out there, to feel completely overwhelmed and terrified by the presence of so much blank space. Or rather, the absence of so many words.
So instead of busting out my creativity and imagination to show the piece of paper what’s up, I usually just pack it in and move on to something else.
Whether it is a busy lifestyle, the stress of the daily grind, or just plain old laziness (guilty!), we all from time to time fall off the proverbial wagon and neglect our crafts and hobbies. It is easy get caught spinning in the wheel of the everyday routine, thus leaving our pens and paintbrushes and yoga mats and instruments and whatever else you may use as a creative outlet collecting dust in a lonely closet somewhere.
We often neglect to nurture our creative talents and passions—those very activities which had at one time brought us perhaps a sense of self, a sense of peace, a sense of accomplishment. Though much of this piece refers to my craft of writing, there is ample room to replace ‘pen’ with whatever you desire. We can all use a bit of help when finding our stride and rekindling our own creative processes. Here, lovers of creativity, are a few tips to give you a boost back into the saddle.
Pick Up the Habit
Developing good habits is just as important to the health and happiness of an individual as breaking bad habits. In order to get back on track, we have to be conscious of making time for ourselves and our hobbies. Set aside a specific time when you can create, and do it not just sporadically, but make the effort to do it every day. And it doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time. Give yourself twenty minutes, a half an hour, when you devote your entire self to your craft.
I’ll be honest, there are days when the very last thing I want to do is sit down and write in my journal. But when it becomes a habit, it seems less of an obligation and more an enjoyment. I actually look forward to my writing time. And just like breaking bad habits, remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes the same devotion and will power to pick up the pen as it does to put down the cigarette.
Check Your Ego at the Door
It’s inevitable, my friends. There is going to come a point when we hit a wall: the proverbial, or in some cases, the very literal, writer’s block. That perfect sentence just won’t make it to the paper; you just can’t nail that pose or hit that note. And it is in those times we will most likely lose our ‘mojo’. Frustration will ensue, I promise.
It is crucial, however, to find a way to overcome such obstacles. Feel free to step away for a moment, take a few breaths, take a walk. Find a way to clear your head. But when you come back, pick up the pen and write whatever word or sentence or phrase comes to mind, and write it over and over. Repeat that pose, or that brush stroke. Chip away at that concrete block, and eventually it will crumble into that very sentence you almost gave up on. Don’t be afraid to feel silly, especially when you are rewriting the same word twenty times. Vulnerability is part of it.
Remember, It Won’t Always Be Pretty
Unfortunately most things in life are definitely not as easy as recalling how to ride a bike. That goes for writing or doing whatever at one point you were so good. I am sure my college English-major self is guffawing at this piece. But it is not always possible just to pick back up where you left off. Finding your stride again takes time and practice and patience. It may very well be painful. Know that for the first few or many times, you will want to crumple up the finished product. Instead, keep what you have created and use it as a stepping stone. Reflect on it, improve upon it, and though it may not be pretty now, what you will create thereafter will be. It is evidence of the process.
Rekindling the flame for our dormant passions and hobbies is way to connect us back to ourselves, and back to each other. Our creativity is an extension of who we are as individuals, and helps define our places in our respective creative communities. So do what you love every day. Look for inspiration in your frustrations. Beat your head against the wall. Be vulnerable. Create.
Andrea Bentley, a Colorado native, is currently living the military lifestyle with her husband in Lacey, Washington. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in English and Sociology, she traveled abroad and a chance meeting in Munich led to her marriage to a soldier in the U.S. Army. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at
age 24, her focus has turned to balancing her health, relationship, and the transience of military life. She fills her spare time with the company of books, enjoys running to clear her mind, and loves the hell out of a good happy hour.