Musings of sorts

On Creativity and Stress

September 26, 2016

I’m struggling a bit with my creativity at the moment. I have lots of ideas all written down on my notepad, waiting to be born. I sit down to write, and find that I just can’t get in the flow of things. I have two travel reviews, a half-baked children’s book, about 10 blog post ideas, and three women I want to feature in my largely neglected Women With Purpose Series, all waiting to be created!  I sit down and then, nada, nothing, crickets! I know what Liz Gilbert would say. She would say that I have to sit down and persevere, and just write-through it all. The magic will come. If not, I must persevere with my chosen passion.

But when will this magic come? I’ve agreed to work full-time until January, as we don’t know when The Ginger Hunk’s surgery is on the cards. It is all-consuming my mind at the moment. Waiting for surgery. His pain. His health. I want it to be better. While it is not permeating my every thought it is there, like an under-current in the background. And then when I get home from work, I’m working on a massive Suicide Prevention Project (which feels both fulfilling and challenging), I have nothing left to give.

So my ideas take a back burner. For now. Psychologist Robert Epstein says that stress is a well-known creativity killer. These are his fabulous tips for keeping the creative juices going through times of stress and making creativity a habit. (Read more about Epstein here.)

  • Capture your new ideas. Keep an idea notebook or voice recorder with you, type in new thoughts on your laptop or write ideas down on a napkin.
  • Seek out challenging tasks. Take on projects that don’t necessarily have a solution—such as trying to figure out how to make your dog fly or how to build a perfect model of the brain. This causes old ideas to compete, which helps generate new ones.
  • Broaden your knowledge. Take a class outside psychology or read journals in unrelated fields, suggests Epstein. This makes more diverse knowledge available for interconnection, he says, which is the basis for all creative thought. “Ask for permission to sit in on lectures for a class on 12th century architecture and take notes,” he suggests. “You’ll do better in psychology and life if you broaden your knowledge.”
  • Surround yourself with interesting things and people. Regular dinners with diverse and interesting friends and a work space festooned with out-of-the-ordinary objects will help you develop more original ideas.

So I shall attempt to keep flexing my creativity muscle during this time in limbo and see how I go.

What about you? 

Does writing or your creative project help with stress? 

Or do your ideas feel frozen like mine? 

Happy Monday! 


Linking up with Kylie for #IBOT

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  • Sarah @sarahdipityblog

    Yep, I’ve had it happen to me before and I’ve just had to take a step back and have a break from it for a while. Different things work for different people. Do whatever works for you x

  • Nikki @ Wonderfully Women

    Ten thousand ideas but only 10 free seconds most days…..the maths just don’t add up 🙂

  • I have this same problem all the time. I have so many blog post ideas saved that never actually get written. Unfortunately I’m only surrounded by a 3yr old and toys all day so it doesn’t really get the creative juices flowing {unless of course she says something hilarious}. #teamIBOT

  • I often talk about not having enough ‘headspace’ to deal with things. It means I’m stuck or stressed and feel mentally frozen. I love the idea of doing something different, something else creative. I’ve read similar things which suggest stopping what you’re stuck on and doing something completely different.

  • Yep, the mind doesn’t function properly when stressed and the first thing to go is always my words (creativity). A good walk and stepping away from the computer tends to work for me. Getting out into nature, just remembering to breathe and appreciate the beauty in the world when you’re out walking does wonders.

  • I’ve certainly been there myself as a full time worker and carer. You just can’t create with the everyday pressures as they are so fore in your head.
    What I’ve done recently is buy a really nice journal and make it into a random thought/poem/whatever book. I try to write in it every day, but it’s not a rule. Even writing two lines in it refreshes me.

  • writeofthemiddle

    Sounds to me like it is no surprise your creativity is blocked at the moment. Look after yourself and it will come back when life is a little less hectic. xo

  • When I’m really stressed and the words won’t come I just write nonsense. Total gibberish. A mind dump. A stream of consciousness. It helps unblock things.

  • Sounds like time to look after yourself first and see what happens. I am sure that the path will appear when it needs too. Good luck for the surgery. xx

  • Lots on your plate and it’s fine to let creative and other writing slide in that time. Got to nurture yourself and do whatever needs to be done to survive the full-time work, but more the stress stress stress of waiting. And it will all pass, and then time and space will be there. Keeping notes sounds like a plan… and then when something is in the brain and must get out then sitting down. That’s what works for me, if I’ve been busy I can sometimes have whole paragraphs in my brain so when I do sit down they’re waiting to spill out so it’s quick.

    Had a great B and B swim on Saturday morning – so many fish!

  • Hugzilla

    Oh gosh, you sound like you’ve got a lot on your plate. Definitely go easy on yourself – it will be back in due time x