Sunday, March 20, 2011

Learning from the Lulls

Friday night I came home from work exhausted. I don't know why, it hadn't been a terribly stressful work week and I had a holiday on Thursday. Saturday morning I woke up looking forward to a morning on my own. My husband and son were heading off early to watch a bike ride and I had the house to myself. A rare treat. I sat at the computer to get into some of my creative work and what happened? Nothing. There was absolutely nothing there. No motivation, no inspiration, no creativity.

This had never happened to me before, around my creative work. This was new. This was scary. My mind quickly went from tired and unmotivated to panicked. So I took a deep breath. Centered myself. And then did something I never do: I turned off the computer.

Here's what I did instead:

Took a bath.

Read a book in a sunbeam on the couch.

Colored a zentangle, so nicely provided to me by my blog friend Karen, only a day before. (Visit her here to download some zentangle book marks, if you have the urge to color.)

Baked popovers.

Read some more out on the balcony, finished the book. 

Ate pizza.

By the end of the day on Saturday, my creative inspiration was back. I turned on the computer, and my work was easy again. Sunday I continued my unplanned hiatus from creative projects and just let myself be. A few more things I did...

Started a new book.

Spent some time journaling.

Baked a cake with my son.

Started to color another zentangle from Karen.

Made origami cranes.

Photographed origami cranes. Multiple times.

Went for a walk with my son.

Ate gelato.

I finished the weekend refreshed. It's Monday morning, and I'm ready to start my week. The small, unscheduled break from my creative goals turned out great. It refocused me, showed me a tiny bit of where I need to make changes to keep my inspiration flowing. I learned from this little creative lull. I know it's not a big deal - it's not as if I was completely blocked. It was just enough for me to get a glimpse of what could happen. To show me that I need to be careful, to listen to these moments, so I don't get to real burnout.

Has this ever happened to you? How do did you respond, what do you do when a creative lull hits?

(The first photo is from Burano, and fills me with a sense of peace and calm. I can imagine sitting quietly in that chair, gathering my creative strength. It is a companion to another one I've shared previously here.)


  1. I think this is a case of your mind telling you to take a break and thankfully you listened to it and, naturally, it worked.

  2. Woof, Kat!
    I rarely get burned out.
    I do get bored.
    I mean I seem to be the only dog designing on the net so woof, yes, I get bored. And when I am, I sleep.

    I am excited to tell my human about the origami.

  3. I do just what you did. I get away from my routine, I never try to force myself, and I just do some nice things for ME. I think sometimes we can get very lost in just trying to "keep up," and I think the experience you had when you sat down at your computer is simply your body's/mind's way of saying, "OK, enough!" "Take some "me" time."

    Thank you so much for sharing this today at The Creative Exchange Kat. Truly your writing about your experience is special, as it may make others feel not so alone when they experience the same feeling.


  4. Kat, it seems that you were pretty creative even on your "break" from creativity! It sounds like a great weekend, I am glad you are feeling back on track now.

  5. Ahhh, this is so familiar to me! I think it happens because I'm always trying to do too many things at once. The best cure is to walk away, just going for a walk with my dog and time with nature is huge!! Glad I found your creative blog today,I enjoyed my visit! Happy Spring from South Dakota USA.

  6. Oh boy, Kat, I can totally relate to this! It doesn't scare me anymore because it is all part of the process. I felt the same way yesterday. I left all my projects behind and went outside and did yardwork. That seems to be helpful for me. Then I started surfing the internet for vacation rentals in various areas - spemt WAY more time on this than I normally would, but I just let it go and hopefully today I will be back on track. We'll see... Anyway, sounds like you had a really rejuvenating time!

  7. I have felt that burnout ....mostly from overload. Unplugging one day a week is helping me renew. Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend!

  8. Hey Kat-Glad to hear you share this. Eye opening and a message on repeating theme. I just started reading a book. The author decided to curtail her use of internet for a year-feeling that it "fragmented the brain and disipated concentration" (and chose to read instead to increase focus). I think what you did this weekend was a wonderful release. I'm learning letting go is hard, necessary, and offers many rewards.
    Meanwhile those zentangles look very cool. I might have to check that out.
    Hope this week offers renewed spirit.

  9. Snapper's block, or blogger's block, or editor's block.
    Haven't yet experienced that. But I DO take days off totally. Sounds like a fun day, with or without paper cranes. Lots of good eating :-)

    The 'watching a bike ride' has me puzzled.

  10. Kat - thanks for sharing your lull experience. No matter how many times I go through a creative road block and even though I know that I WILL get to the other side - facing it is still a scary thing. Your solution - taking care of yourself - was beautiful. As was the description of your weekend.

  11. Like a farmer leaves the ground to refresh, fallowing, it may be said of us too. Don' tget too worried when mojo leaves, it is my body's way of telling me it is time to fallow. Sometimes for longer periods of time. Glad you feel refreshed, natural tendency is to freak, we do better when we go with the flow...

  12. Hi Kat,

    Yes this often happens to me, I just take it as part of my creative personality, it all circles round and round. In-face I rather like it this way, when the creative juices start to flow I get the most beautiful rush, feeling high as a kite!

    Sue x

  13. After struggling for months with a lack of creativity, I'm a firm believer that sometimes the answer is walking away and focusing on something else.

  14. It is happening to right now and I realize that you can only multi-task for so long and then you SHUT DOWN. Your gentle acts of kindnesses seem to be the way to go...

  15. Sounds like you did just what you needed to do. I love the blue chair photo!

  16. Kat, this is a wonderful post! Looks like you had fun on your "day off" but more importantly, you rediscovered your creativity!

  17. This sounds wonderful, Kat! Maybe I should follow your example...!

  18. Creativity simply cannot be the result of forced behavior. The muses rebel unless you feed them with some other activities. Sounds like you fed them well over the weekend. :-)

  19. I love this post!!!! We all get there. I love to cure my lulls with trips to the ranch but lately I haven't had the time. I find visits to the library, reading or surfing Amazon works for me. :)


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