Ask the expert: How can I feel inspired and creative again?
Finding our creative flow can be difficult at the best of times, so perhaps it’s not surprising that some of us have struggled during the pandemic. With the stress and anxiety the last year has brought, being able to focus and feel inspired hasn’t come easily.
With experience in drama education and a passion for creativity, we couldn’t think of anyone better to talk this through with than personal development coach Duncan Alldridge. Here, he answers your questions on finding your flow again.
My job requires me to be creative, but I’m struggling with everything going on. Do you have any tips to help get the inspiration flowing?
Creativity is often about putting one step forward. Too much thinking about having to find the flow doesn’t create flow – flow happens when you feel your most spacious. Unless you have a deadline, take some time to not be in the thinking process. Take a walk, find inspiration away from the workspace and bring it back. Talk. Share your struggle with a committed listener. Remember, any seemingly insignificant step forward leads to the next.
Many of us get inspired when our bodies are relaxed and our minds are free. How about some plants, poetry or inspiring photos at your workspace? Maybe you could get some more perfunctory tasks out of the way and free up space, rather than juggle different tasks. Allow yourself a clutter-free space to focus your attention. And go somewhere where you feel inspired. Watch that magical film. Talk to someone who sees your struggle.
I’m feeling a lot of self-doubt around my creative projects at the moment. Do you have any suggestions to help me believe in myself a bit more?
Start with this: what is important about this project? Why is it important to me? What will it bring me (and others) that I don’t have now? How will life be different when I fulfil this project? If you spend some time feeling into your longing, the ‘why’ behind your endeavours, you’ll see why dreaming something up is really important to you. Without this, many creative projects fail at the first hurdle.
It’s natural to doubt stuff. Do some practice, notice what feels good about the work, pay attention to where you feel excitement. Maybe play with the project a little. Is there a way you can make it more fun for yourself and take off some of the pressure? Remember, a small step can be a courageous step, try not to judge yourself for what might seem like slower ‘progress’.
I’m really keen to start a creative hobby like painting but am worried I won’t be very good. Do you have any advice for beginners?
Not being ‘very good’ is your inner critic talking. It’s a belief you’ve learned. Yet it’s not you and it’s not true. Your essence, your creative spirit is longing to break through, always. Feel into why you want to paint. How will this creative hobby help you expand, grow and live more fully? Why is painting important for you?
Try not to compare and, remember, there’s no one to impress. You could collect images that inspire you or keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings when you paint. Go out and buy a beautiful sketch pad or a new set of paints or materials to set things up and create a nurturing space at home where you can display your work. You could enrol in a class or group where people share.
Take that first small step. Work your muscle of courage and confidence will grow.
I’m in the middle of a big creative project and have lost all motivation and am starting to feel overwhelmed. How can I get back on track?
This can be really frustrating. Stop doing it for a bit – take the pressure off. Rest. Engage with nature. It’s natural to get knocked off track; be kind to yourself, let your deadline stretch a little if possible. Then go back a little and look at why you began this project in the first place and what matters to you about it. Remind yourself of why you committed and revisit those feelings of excitement you had when you began.
Go to where you feel aliveness about the work, if there’s a part of the project that draws you and feels good – go there.
Your body holds the key to your ‘inner knowing’ here. Perhaps shift your outcomes a little or change your time frame. Go to where you feel aliveness about the work, if there’s a part of the project that draws you and feels good – go there. Listen to your body. Remind yourself of why you care about this project and how that feels to you.
I have a friend who’s just started working with a creative coach and I’m intrigued. Can you tell me more about what creative coaching can help with?
Your creativity is a call from your soul. It’s the piece inside you longing to come into the world. Creative coaching is a partnership where I walk with you on your path towards fulfilment of this dream. I’d help you work with your attention and direct your energy towards what you care about. They’ll be blocks, hurdles, things to overcome. We’d work through these.
Often, there are old beliefs or tendencies that your body has learned holding you back from flourishing, so we’ll look to your body’s intelligence and at what gets in your way. I’d help you organise your energy in line with what you care about and visualise what’s important for you.
Stepping forward ‘creatively’ means different things, so we’d unpick what that means for you, whether this is part of work or outside, or specifically on a project that needs a soulful, imaginative or playful approach.
Top tips for those in a creative funk:
- Leave the piece. Spend time in a completely different environment. Rest. Observe. Then come back to the project.
- Give yourself a very small target to achieve on the work each day. Dedicate small and purposeful amounts of time to the work.
- Allow yourself to have the block, try not to struggle or judge, accept something within you is waiting to shift and it is this energy shift that will drive the project forward, perhaps towards fulfilment in a different way. Be patient. Allow the work to evolve.
If you think it would be helpful to work with a creative coach to help you get unstuck, use our search tool to find a coach today.