How do you deal with creative block when your income depends on it? It’s a crisis situation if you’re the only one producing the product and treating it like the 9 – 5. Creativity is not something you can switch on like a light.
Banking up completed work for ‘rainy days’ and customer attractive social media posts on projects are great for helping you tick over and keeping up your impetus online as well as in the studio whilst you overcome a creative hump, but if you’re anything like me, a creative block, often the result of months of intense activity can last anything from a couple of weeks to a few months. It can be unnerving, not least because there is noone to carry the load whilst you sort yourself out, or bounce ideas off to inspire you, and in turn that worry can kill any return to your normal work pattern.
Creative blocks are not always about being inspired. Sometimes you genuinely just need mental downtime to recharge. I have no control over my work pattern once I get into whatever it is that has inspired me. It can mean long, irratic days when I will work as I feel the urge, whether that’s at eight in the morning or eleven at night. The end result is often burn out.
There are no easy answers. First and foremost I would say make sure you have money banked up to cover your must pay for basics both at work and in your personal life, and keep product in stock so sales continue even if you can’t create. I realise this is almost a pipedream for many self employed people, it’s why planning to start your business should include a safety net of money. Without it you are doomed from the start.
The pressure to produce income over creativity is an issue if you are naturally creative rather than just a cog in a wheel. it seems like a great idea when there’s no pressure to create for income, but once that becomes a reality it can be a shock. Natural creativity is unpredictable and doesn’t work to schedules. Forcing it only drains you and your enthusiasm and worries spiralling from this can make things worse. If necessary have second job options open to you whether that’s joining a temp agency for a couple of months or helping a friend out with their workload. Working in a completely different genre and to someone elses call sheet can be envigorating and refresh your outlook.
The other problem is the weather. In the winter many of want to go into semi hybernation, eat more, sleep more. This isn’t laziness, it’s a genuine left over from our prehistoric ancestors. Reduced light affects most creatures in some way and humans aren’t actually any different. Those decreases in light will also affect your creativity. Do you ever notice how much more buoyant you are when the sun is out? Well that’s the effect of light on your brain’s receptors. There are many ways to deal with the fall out from winter light reductions. SAD lamps, winter somewhere warmer, change job until you can power through it. Of course, it affects some more than others. I just become sluggish and disillusioned because I dislike the cold intensely (Italian roots you see) but for some it can be crippling. You might find SAD lights a useful addition. I know people who swear by them.
Now spring is here I have noticed a complete change in my perspective, my moods and my eating habits and that can only be a good thing. A blast of an early summer in Manchester last week has been rejuvenating. I hope it means we get a great summer.