I feel like I’ve been a little “stuck” for a while. If I’m being honest with myself it’s probably been about 6 months that I’ve felt this uncomfortable feeling with my art. My vision and my execution were not seeing eye to eye and nothing I was creating was feeling right. I wasn’t sure when it was going to get better but I have learned over the years that the best way through that kind valley is just to keep on working. (In fact I’m reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield courtesy of my lovely friend Justine and that book is all about “doing the work”.) It’s tempting to just give up but that is the worst thing you can do in times of “stuckness”.
I also did a lot of other things that helped me through this process and in the last week I feel like I’ve finally broken loose. I feel like my work is going down the avenue that I want it to and I’m running on all cylinders. In fact, last week the inspiration was so high that I was having trouble even reining it in.
If you are a creative person and have experienced this kind of “stuck” feeling I’d like to share with you the 4 things that helped me get “unstuck”:
1. Morning Pages
If you haven’t read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron then I highly suggest that you do. She shares a practice in there called “morning pages”. Morning pages are just a way of journaling every day that help you to clear your overactive brain. I don’t do them every day but whenever I feel the rattle and noise of thought overload, I write some morning pages and it helps me to clear my thinking.
I’ve recently changed up my exercise routine and taken it out of doors. I’ve started running along the beach a lot more and hiking these beautiful trails behind my house. There is nothing like moving your body to really get your head cleared. And I leave my iPod at home when I really want to get some heavy duty thinking done. Some of the best ideas pop into my head while I’m exercising.
3. New Creative Endeavors
Trying out an unfamiliar creative project is like cross training for your art muscles. If you are a writer, try taking photographs. If you are a painter, try writing a poem. It’s good to challenge yourself creatively with something that doesn’t hold so much pressure for you. You don’t have to be good at it you just have to enjoy the process. And you might find that this triggers ideas for your particular art.
4. Take a Class or Workshop
I think this was the single most helpful thing to get me unstuck. We can always stand to learn a new technique or a new style of art. Finding a way to incorporate it into our work is the best part. Sometimes it’s good to learn something so out of our comfort zone that it really stretches us in directions we may have never thought to go in. I took a workshop in March and another one a few weeks ago and they both inspired me tremendously and taught me new techniques that I am now using in my paintings.
These techniques worked wonders for me, so much so that I have created these three brand new large scale paintings in the last week. I’m sure somewhere down the road I’ll get stuck again, I know that is the plight of the artist. But as long as I keep on doing the work and applying what I’ve learned along the way, I know it will always be a temporary thing.