It’s a well-known fact that I’m a chronic overachiever. I’m a collector of jobs and internships, as well as hobbies and passion projects. But between going from uni, to work, to book launches, all the while trying to squeeze in a few writing sessions a day and keep up with blogging, it’s easy to become creatively drained. We’re living in a world where there’s an expectation that we should be constantly creating. Creating content. Creating a brand. Creating a community. With all that pressure that’s placed on us (and that we place on ourselves), it’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough with our lives.
I’ve definitely experienced periods when I’m creatively drained and unmotivated. When I’m feeling that way, I’m less inclined to create—but herein lies the dangerous cyclical nature of that. When I don’t create, I feel bad about not creating, so then I continue to wallow in that sadness of not creating, feeling even less motivated about writing that blog post or making that video or plotting that scene. But over the past couple of years, I’ve realised the importance of creator self-care and refuelling creatively.
Today I’d like to share five ways I try to make sure I don’t feel like I’m burning out or become disillusioned with what I’m trying to create. So if you’re feeling stressed or like you need to refuel your creative juices, I hope these tips and suggestions will help you a little!
Treat yourself to a decent breakfast.
When I’m feeling unmotivated or uninspired, it’s easy to give into staying in bed all day. To just doze in and out of sleep while the day passes you by in episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. When I have to go to work or I have something important on, I have to drag myself out of the house even if I’m feeling like I’m on the brink of death. But when I have days off and feel that way, one thing that never fails to help me is getting out of the house at a reasonable time in the morning. I like to go to a cafe, treat myself to a wholesome breakfast, and soak in the atmosphere. Even if it feels like there’s nothing else good happening that day, at least when I wake up I know I’m going to treat myself to some smashed avo or pancakes. There’s no better way to start the day than with a good meal.
Watch a movie.
If books and novel writing weren’t in my life, I’d definitely have a film blog. Sometime I even see more films than days in the week—I’m not kidding, one week I watched eight movies. So when I’m feeling unmotivated to write anything, I turn to movies to help refuel me creatively. They’re less work and less of a commitment than books, and I love just going into a darkened cinema where I know I won’t be able to use my phone for two hours and just be completely immersed in the experience. And I feel like watching movies are really great for picking up things to use in my own writing, whether that be slices of dialogue, or a clearer picture of a particular setting, or even just noticing the way the narrative progresses. It’s all storytelling, so you can feel like you’re being productive while still managing to relax.
Reread a favourite book.
Sometimes when I’m feeling drained, the last thing I want to do is have to pick up a new book. The thought of having to get to know a whole new bunch of characters or a new setting or world is incredibly daunting. Novels that aren’t YA contemporaries are hard for me to get into on a good day, so I have no motivation to try and get into a new series when I’m feeling creatively drained. Rereading one of my favourite books is basically the perfect solution to this. I know what’s going to happen, I already know all the characters… basically, it just feels like coming home.
Visit a new place, or an art gallery.
I love exploring new places. If I don’t have time to go on an actual trip, I like exploring art galleries in the city I haven’t been to for a while, or going to new suburbs and exploring the area, or even taking a day trip to a small country town, or a forest, or further down the coast. There’s nothing quite like escaping the quotidian and embarking on a new adventure. Taking a day off to explore really helps give me space to breathe and ground myself again. It’s so easy to get caught up in our online presence, or in the fictional world we’re working on. Sometimes the best way for me to refuel creatively is to go to new places, see new things, and pick up little aspects of daily life that I can work into my novels somehow. Taking a few hours to further explore the world around you is never a waste of time.
Listen to music.
Finally, something that helps me refuel or motivate me to write is listening to music. I love the way it puts me in a different headspace, helping to inspire me, or build my confidence, or put me in the right mood to write a particular scene. Music is just so incredibly powerful. I’ve found that no other audio medium helps me refuel creatively than music—not podcasts, not audiobooks, nothing. Music is its own unique type of storytelling, and I just love how it has the power to shape our emotions so easily.
How do you refuel when you’re feeling creatively drained? Do you ever use the same methods as I do? How do you keep from feeling unmotivated? I’d love to know!