The Orange Slate

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A Reminder About Perspective (And a List to Inspire Creativity)

February 25, 2014

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Do you ever feel like your creative well is running a bit dry? I think spells of lethargy are normal, even for the most creative and original of people. But I get frustrated when these strike, when times of unfinished drafts, ideas that I can’t seem to push through to completion, and great ideas that I don’t have the energy (or courage?) to turn into reality seem to take over my existence.

I’m a big believer in the idea that the surface problem may not be the real problem – often my surface symptoms of irritability, stress, or ennui cover up deeper issues that I need to face.

For instance, we were busier than usual last weekend. All of the things on our calendar were wonderful, good, things and involved time with people we enjoy and activities we both want to pursue. But I found myself feeling stressed, rushed, and overwhelmed. I caught myself partway through the day on Saturday and was able to check my mood and actually enjoy the wonderful time that we spent with friends, but I couldn’t peg the source of all of my angst.

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Then during Sunday morning’s sermon, this line struck me: “Scarcity has a snowball effect – scarcity begets scarcity.” One of my notes in the margins of my journal says: “Acting as if I’m strapped for time, I am living under a scarcity mindset and will never have enough to share.” Ouch.

These few words, and my entire weekend, taught me a valuable lesson: perspective really is everything.

If I feel like I don’t have enough time, don’t have enough energy, can’t give any more – well, then, I won’t. 

But what if we applied this to creativity? When I’m feeling listless and uncreative, when I’m having difficulty pushing projects through to fulfillment, what if a simple shift in perspective changed everything? A scarcity mindset say that I can’t think of a good blog post, don’t have time to read, can’t get home in time to make dinner, definitely can’t fit those people into this week’s schedule, don’t have time to implement ideas, don’t care enough about my projects.

But what if I operated under an abundance mindset instead? I have plenty of time, ideas, and energy – more than enough to share. I don’t need to be stressed – there is time enough to do everything that I need to do. I love sharing words and blog posts – even if they aren’t perfect, it’s ok to release them. So this week, I’m trying to remind myself to have an abundance perspective.

Still not sure how to break out of the creative rut? Try taking these 5 steps. A little change of perspective can work wonders.

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1. Choose to do something imperfectly rather than not doing it at all. I’m a perfectionist, and so often my fear of mediocrity or failure keeps me from acting. Bravery is a discipline. Complete something this week even if you fear it’s not yet ready or perfect.

2. Make your space more conducive to creativity. You don’t need to do an entire home makeover to make your home more creative-friendly. I spent an hour yesterday pushing some side-tables and our couches around after buying just one new lamp. But three of our rooms look completely different. They’re so much cozier and I was more excited to get up and work today just because of the changes.

Suddenly, all of my internal stress over how our house decor wasn’t complete or perfect was gone as I realized what a happy, cozy little home we have. Sometimes all that I need to do is simply clean off my desk so that I can focus on being creative rather than on all of the little mundane tasks on my list. Spend a few minutes looking at your home through the eyes of an abundance mindset and your creative juices will thank you.

3. Give yourself permission to stop stressing over what you aren’t doing. I haven’t blogged as much as I would in an ideal world. But I’m reminding myself that that is ok, because less blogging time has meant more (abundant) time making our home cozy, more time focusing on projects that are good for my career, more time completing projects that I wasn’t finding time for, more time spent with Mark. Next year promises to be a very busy season for us and I’m trying to embrace this little bubble of abundant calm that God has given us rather than frantically trying to squeeze the most productivity out of every moment.

4. Stop wasting time on things that steal from your abundance mindset. Sometimes, in an effort to inspire myself, I get on Facebook, my blogroll, Pinterest, Instagram. This rarely helps. Most of the time, if I already am having difficulty creating something, these outlets just make me more frustrated, discontent, and creatively stumped.

5. When creative blocks strike, DO something. Attack life with an abundance mindset. Explore a new trail, bake something, edit some of your pictures, do a small simple craft, take out a piece of paper and brainstorm. Instead of trying to find inspiration, create something (even a memory) that is small and simple.

How do you remind yourself to create with an abundance mindset?

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  1. This is so true. There are so many things effected by your mood. However, in addition to your advice, I like to have three or four things going that I can turn to. When I feel creatively stumped by one thing, or simply not in the mood, I move to something else; usually something I haven’t had time for but have always wanted to do. I’ve been on an instrument slump lately, and haven’t wanted to practice any of the instruments I was excited about last year, so I started playing piano again, and have really enjoyed it. I also practiced drawing a little more (I’m so bad). I’m sure I’ll revert back to my other interests, but meanwhile, I haven’t been wasting my time mooning around. Anyway, not too much. 😉

    In short, I think it’s helpful to have a Creative Slump Bucket List sitting up on your wall. When you lose interest in something, don’t feel guilty and don’t push through it, instead look at your bucket list and see what looks fun. Give your brain a mini vacation, and you’ll come back refreshed, and sometimes better than you were.

    1. Monica,

      I totally agree! Switching activities or focus really helps me recharge too! I really like the idea of a Creative Slump Bucket List!!! I’m going to have to try it.

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