When I wrote my first book Waves, a poetry book surrounding my experiences with mental illness, (Purchase here) I found it incredibly hard to stay inspired and motivated. It took me years (more than 5…) to compile all of the poems, edit, format, hire an artist and get the books made. My problem wasn’t that I was lazy or even too busy. It was that I was lacking inspiration which translated into lacking motivation!
Inspiration = Motivation
Struggling with depression and anxiety can make finding inspiration and motivation difficult at times. When all I can focus on is not having a panic attack when I’m at work and not letting the depression consume my energy, there isn’t much room left in my brain to become inspired by the world around me. This translates for any mental illness. They take up so much room in our brains, and in our lives, that other aspects of life sometimes get pushed to the back burner. But, there is hope.
Here are steps that I’ve found to be helpful when struggling with writers block/ lack of creativity and have had a hard time staying inspired and finding motivation.
- Get out of your normal space. Seriously, your wallpaper isn’t changing. You need to go outside, to a coffee shop, on the bus, to a mall, anywhere that has stimuli you aren’t used to. (When I used to take the bus, I would imagine the lives of different people on the bus and I would write poems about them.) This is a prime example of how leaving whats comfortable a.k.a home, for something far less comfortable.
- Expose yourself to new/different creative content. New music, books, exercises and even movies has left me feeling inspired in the middle of a depressive episode. I’ve gone to different art shows and yoga classes and music festivals in the past that have filled me with enough inspiration to write new poems.
- Foster a space for creativity to bloom. When you do create inside, try to create a space that’s comfortable and has the tools you need to be creative. If you know you like to paint with music that inspires you or takes you back to a specific time on, make sure there’s a music device in the room. If you know you have to be sitting comfortably to write, make sure you have a decent chair and some fluffy pillows. A space that is comfortable and inviting will likely lure you in more often, which hopefully leads to inspiration and creativity. (I’ll include a list of my creative space must-haves in the next post!)
- Connect with other artists. As someone with extreme social anxiety, this one is still a struggle for me. But, when I force myself out of my comfortable space and collaborate with others, I find it to be extremely inspirational.When writing Waves, I hired an artist who’s work I loved. But I also loved our coffee shop meetings. I found we both had the ability to inspire each other. It might not happen each time you hang out, but when it does happen it’ll be worth it.
- Force it. When all else fails, force it. I don’t believe creativity can be forced. But, I do believe if you force yourself to sit in your comfortable space, or in a new space with room for inspiration, you will likely notice by the end of the time you’ve spent, you will have created something. I used to force myself to write when I was at coffee shops between classes or when I was off work and bored at home. I’d usually start doodling and just playing with my phone. But, eventually some sort of magic would usually happen. Just holding the pen would ignite a certain flame in my brain and the words would eventually flow. If you’re a painter pick up the brush. A musician? Pick up the instrument. A writer? Pick up the pen. This rings true for just about anything. Starting is the hardest part.
I hope at least one of these can help all you creatives who struggle with mental health and/or finding inspiration and motivation. ❤