19 Oct Creating when the muse has left
So often it seems we get enthused by a new creative project, and then a few days or weeks into it, we discover that the muse has left. Upped sticks. Gone. Vanished. All that enthusiasm has gone as abruptly as it came, and all we have to show for our work are a few strands of the idea still pulled together. So what can we do to work around this all too pervasive ‘the muse has left’ problem?
For most of us, being creative doesn’t happen on a schedule, so putting a recurring time to’ be creative’ on the calendar just doesn’t work for most of us. Soon we will find almost any task comes higher up the priority list than being creative, so standard time management options don’t really cut it. One option is to get our creative time in early in the day before we have the mental energy to find excuses – maybe get up 30 minutes earlier? Again, we’re not stupid, and when that alarm goes off 30 minutes earlier, the desire to leave our warm and comfy bed quickly overrules our desire to be creative.
Another option is to play the muse at her own game and leave as well – decide to deliberately not try to be creative. Go out for a walk or drive, go and sit by a river or the sea, or hike in the mountains. Rather than trying to chase your muse down, you’ll rest instead. Being outside on a glorious day is a great way to recharge your personal batteries, and you may well return feeling ready to sew or write or create again.
It can sometimes help to listen to music. I created this Spotify list of music that helps me to relax – and quietens my mind. Perhaps it would work for you too?
Another option is to always have creative opportunities available around as you. Keep a notepad and pencil in your bag so if you are delayed you can sit and sketch or write notes. Have a project (or 4 or 5!) ready to work on. If I lose interest in one project, I can usually persuade myself to pick up another project and see what I can think of to add to it. Once I’ve started to be creative, it is much easier to keep up the momentum.
Yet another option is to create a list of potential projects that you can look over when you are feeling lost about your current project. Capture any ideas that come to you to do this. Leave a voice memo on your phone, add it to a page on a list app, get a screenshot of something that inspires you, pin a photo to Pinterest, save a link on Facebook – whatever it takes so that you can find the idea again when you are in the mood to create. Some ideas don’t have much of a lifespan and on a second viewing they simply don’t match the brilliance they originally had, but even those ideas can sometimes unlock ideas send you off in a completely different direction.
Above all, when you hit a pause in your creative work, don’t default to turning to social media or checking your email hoping for inspiration. Get out your notebook, find your lists of projects, or a portable element of your project, and put in a few minutes to move it a little ahead. Even if you no longer feel energized and excited by that particular project, keep working on it. Each little push moves you forwards, and you may even find your love for the project returns. Your muse may even decide to come back to see what you’ve been doing, and throw a few more ideas into your ear as a reward!
So what do you do when the muse has left?