As of the time I am writing this, I have not made any significant new art for well over a month.
This is a long time for me to go without jumping deep into the creative zone. So it is safe to say I am currently in a creative slump.
Am I worried? Not really. I’ve been here before, and I’ll be here again. It was scary the first few times I experienced slumps, but I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process that helps alleviate some of the stress.
The biggest way to work thru a slump is to understand what is causing the slump in the first place. The rest of this post is me stepping thru those reasons to look for the cause of my slump. However they are specific to me. Your reasons will vary, but hopefully walking thru the exercise will help you customize it for your own unique personality.
Lets get to it!
Is this the beast of depression?
I have written about my depression for the blog before, but the salient details is that my creativity is an early sign that the Beast of Depression is rearing his ugly head. Basically, if I am having issues in my life, and both my work life, family life, and creative life are all affected, it’s a sign my depression is getting worse.
So the first thing I do in this situation is ask myself if this is true. Because if it is I need to start getting help right away.
So it is obvious my creativity is affected, however what about the other aspects of my life, family and work? I have travelled with the kids without losing my nut, and I generally am not overly cranky at them, so that seems OK. Since the new year began I have actually been strangely productive at work, so that seems to be OK.
So we’re no closer to understanding the slump, except it seems to not be medical. What a relief!
However the search continues.
How is my health?
The next question is how do I feel? Am I coming down with a cold? Are my allergies acting up? Am I getting enough sleep? Have I suffered an injury recently?
Basically is there anything going on with me physically that is taking energy away from the creative parts of my brain?
In this time frame, I did get a cold. It affected me for the week between Christmas and New Years. It may have contributed to the slump, but it shouldn’t be a factor anymore.
Has my schedule changed?
This isn’t small changes, like having breakfast at 7 instead of 7:30. I’m talking big changes.
My daily schedule is basically the same as it has always been. However I have travelled recently, and I have a lot more travel coming up. I went on a Caribbean cruise over the Christmas break, and in a few weeks my wife will be traveling (making me a single parent for a week), then I will be traveling for work.
Here is where knowing oneself comes in handy. I am not a nervous traveller, but I am a planner so I tend to focus on the details of trips. When I focus on a trip I have less mental energy to wander. A wandering mind is a creative mind.
So this is a likely contributor for the slump.
Is this a normal cycle?
It is also very common for creative minded people to go thru cycles of highly creative periods followed by periods of low creativity. This is normal, and expected. We all need times to recharge our batteries, and creativity is no exception.
During November and the first two weeks of December I was highly creative. I doubled my posts to this blog, wrote an article for another blog, and created many images for my own nefarious purposes. Thats a lot of output for me. I enjoyed it immensely, but I was clearly riding a creative wave.
It is quite likely the wave has crested, and I have moved to the natural down time that follows.
What am I going to do about it?
Not much, to be honest. Since it’s not medical, but a natural cycle accentuated by a lot of travel, I am going to not worry about it, and let my creative batteries recharge on their own.
Aside from meeting the deadlines I’ve committed to for the blog (one post every two weeks), I am not going to force myself to be creative. If the muse calls, I’ll answer, but I won’t try to force it.
So in the meantime I joined yet another online mentorship program for digital artists. This will give me time to gain some new skills. It never hurts to sharpen my knowledge of Photoshop while waiting for my muse.
Do you have ways to deal with creative slumps? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.