It is normal to fall into a creative slump, especially during these times. Many of us don’t have the access to external inspiration we may have once had with COVID-19 affecting creative spaces/gatherings.
Attending an event always helped my creativity, especially whenever I needed to pick myself up from a particularly bad week of writer’s block and give myself something other than my latest plot hole to think about.
However, whilst we still don’t have that, I wanted to share what I have learnt in the past few months to help you keep pursuing your creative practice and progress in it, even when you don’t have that external motivation of others.
1 – It is better to prioritise finishing over quality – I got this tip from YouTuber EvelynFromTheInternets when she said: “if you don’t finish it, then you don’t have anything to edit” and wiser words have still to be said to me. You can’t edit or progress on a project if you haven’t got a draft to work on.
I use this technique all the time, I finish pieces that I am writing even if, by the end of the day, the quality has seriously decreased. I know with a completed piece; I can now go back and edit. Something I couldn’t do with a work-in-progress. And as Terry Pratchet once said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”
2 – Finding structure or discipline to complete your project requires listening to yourself – The way I make a routine for myself is by starting with a very unrealistic *ideal* highly-structured plan and trying to follow it through. When I eventually give up, I record what happened and where I think the problem lies.
I rinse and repeat this method of listening to myself until I’ve adjusted the system and created a structure that fully works for me and doesn’t leave me burnt out at the end of the day. Try this and stop watching YouTube videos of other people’s routines. Routine is specific, you have to find one that works for you.
3 – When it comes to creating anything or trying a new art format, give yourself the permission – don’t wait for someone else or a formal qualification to say that you can try a particular style or medium, give yourself the permission to fail badly at it and then pick yourself up and try again.
4 – A lack of resources shouldn’t stand in your way, it should make you more creative – As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention” and sometimes being pushed to be more creative by limitations is an opportunity to shine. An example is the photographer @kihmberlie. Each of her experimental Instagram posts details a BTS breakdown of how she creates ethereal shots on a budget.
Similarly, Netflix’s Homemade, a series of short films made during lockdown, is a masterclass on how minimal budgets, editing and no access to filming equipment or casts shouldn’t hold people back from telling their stories.