Art is just as exhausting as it is rewarding. After a long year of work, it’s all too easy to zero in on the parts of artistic work we hate - the frustration, the burnout, the paralysis. If you find yourself hitting a block this holiday season, here are some ways to help you do what you know you were born to do: create.
1. Rediscover what inspires you.
Take some time to enjoy the things that make you want to create. Re-read that book that made you want to be a writer. Watch that film that you’ve been meaning to put aside some time for. Go to a random show at your local venue. Give yourself a break from studying these things with a critical eye and focus instead on getting in tune with what inspired you to create art in the first place. You didn’t get into this with the dream of being “productive” - your creativity was born from a place of pure, genuine enjoyment. Try to get lost in that place again.
2. Refresh your workspace.
Has your creative workspace gathered clutter over the course of the year? If you like to keep things in your workplace to inspire you - posters, books, mementos - do they still spark your creativity like they used to? Take some time to clear out everything that isn’t 1) absolutely necessary for you to do your work or 2) something that inspires you to create.
If you don’t do this already, make a resolution to only use this space for creative work. Our minds create powerful associations between environments and what we do in those environments. When you use your creative workspace to check Facebook or follow up on work emails, it makes it harder to set aside these distractions and get into the right mindset when you sit down to work on a creative project.
3. Listen to others talk about their creative processes.
Every time we see a book, film, or album and say “I want to make that” - we’re looking at a polished final product. It’s easy to compare our sloppy first drafts to someone else’s best work, and this can be more discouraging than inspirational when we’re in the throes of burnout and creative block.
Try to find interviews with a creator you look up to and listen to them talk about their creative process. You might pick up some solid advice, but more importantly, you’ll remind yourself that all the work you admire went through countless iterations - most of them bad - and that frustration doesn’t mean you’re going in the wrong direction.
4. Keep creating every day.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Don’t wait until you know you can get it “just right.” Creativity, like anything else, is a habit that you can learn. Set a timer and just write, or sketch, or jam until it runs out. Even if you're not finishing up that dream project just yet, there’s always time for perfectionism later - for now, just listen to your ideas.
As a creative, you have an incredibly powerful vision of what you want to create. The fear of not being able to do this vision justice can be paralyzing. But this paralysis - not any “bad” art you could ever create - is your worst enemy.
So, throw yourself into the depths every day until you realize just how far you can swim. Trust your vision, trust your passion, and trust your work. You know where you want to go. Day by day, you’ll get there.
In need of the perfect gifts for the creative in your life? Shop our Holiday Gift Guide: The Creative for journals, stationery sets, and more.