There is a gift and a curse with being a creative person. It’s called the creative blues. You feel that sense of wanting to move forward so keenly you simply can’t sit still. You are always looking for the next victory, the next thing to stimulate you. Your head is constantly whirring and trying to make sense of the world.
Such is the challenge of the creative blues.
There’s always the next entrepreneurial challenge or business idea. There’s always that film script knocking on the back of your head or that perfect moment to photograph. Creativeness is an unwieldy little minx, and if you spend a lot of time with her, it’s bound to hurt sometimes.
The drive, the ambition and determination are great when they are working for you. But when the doubt creeps up or the fatigue sets in, that same independent and determined streak can be the very same thing that makes it all seem insurmountable.
Whether it’s that awful cold belly crawl of doubt as you are just about to launch or the tangle of your process fighting against you, being creative is hard. It takes you on swings that leave you both breathless from the joy, and gasping from the terror.
And that is a fairly difficult place in which to dwell.
Creativity blues, you got me wailin’
Have you ever felt as a creative person that when things hit you, they hit you hard? It sucks. Your awareness, which is undoubtedly the creative person’s greatest asset, seems to work against you. That sensitivity that allows you to imagine the wonderful ideas in your head is the very same thing that cuts you into ribbons when things aren’t really going your way.
It’s hard to grab hold of perspective and shake away the blues when they snap and snarl at your heels. In fact, study after study has proven that creativity and depression are no stranger to each other.
So how do you keep your head in gear when the creativity runs so deep?
There are no easy answers. But you can try to work to a rhythm and have a little safety net to release the safety valve.
Whatever the particular thing that works for you, here is what seems to be the underlying commonality of being able to take those creative blues and turn them to something a little more palatable.
Allow yourself time to be down
I am not talking about indulging your creative blues, though on occasion this doesn’t hurt either.
This is more about the fact being perpetually engaged is exhausting. There is absolutely no shame in needing to have some time away from commitments, questions and the public presentation required in the modern world.
Let’s face it, we live in public. We share a lot of ourselves with people due to social media, working lives, networking, obligations to family, kids, maintaining friendships, household chores and a whole host of other things. Being that in demand and that on show is incredibly difficult.
So if you don’t have the strength to go out to the engagements you’ve booked this week, give yourself a break. Choose a moment to give back to you – and take it.
Read a book or scamper off to lunch by yourself instead of hanging with the team. Take yourself with a journal and a pen to a pub for a cheeky wine. Steal back some time for you, even if that means cancelling something.
The world won’t stop spinning if you do. But your head might.
Have a secret all of your own
Yes, you have a million projects. You are a creative person, that’s what we do. But not everyone needs to know every one of them by intimate detail. Select something that is just for you. Create a private idea or project that you work on without having to update the world about it.
Don’t put it on social media. Don’t bring it up at the next coffee with your BFF. Don’t collaborate on it. Heck, it doesn’t even ever have to launch or have to finish.
Just give yourself an unsullied and unexposed pleasure to engage your mind and allow your creativity to flow. And enjoy the secret bliss.
Shift gears and reboot
Laundry, baking, tidying the house, watering the plants- these are all the very ordinary tasks you can turn to when you need to reset your head. Choose tasks where you can gain the joy from completing the task, but not have to think about it too much and distract yourself for a while.
A small win, even if it is a win against an untidy desk or a rambling garden, can be just what you need to reboot your mood.
Create something else
If you are a writer, go paint something. If painting is your thing, try singing. If your creativity is your business, go cook a feast or write a short story.
Take that wonderful feeling of creativity and turn it into something that is tangible, but not your primary skill. That way, you can enjoy the art of creativity without the pressure of needing to succeed.
Don’t let the creative blues enslave you. Make sure you have something (anything!) to show for another day on this planet. Do it.
Kick perfectionism in the nuts and send it to the bench early. Make a mess. Do what you need to do but do it to get it done- roughly and without finesse. Push through that desperate tug that wants you rolled up on the couch and gag the voice in your head that is tinged with negativity. Get mad at the person who didn’t value what you spent hours on and use that anger to push through.
Even if what you produce is absolute bollocks, who cares? You got a foundation down. Or you got a dumb idea out of the way to make space for a better one. Or the first draft is complete.
Whatever way you look at it, you did something. And that is more than most people will do today. Be proud of that fact.
The final lesson on creative blues
Don’t let the gift called creativity become a burden. Treat it like exercise, where you push yourself through, you don’t always have to have a personal best, and it’s something you enjoy privately. Make it yours again by taking the pressure away from the production.