Activating creativity after a dry spell

Chances are, most of us have gone through some sort of dry spell where we couldn’t tap into our creativity or another outlet that brings us joy and release. Whether that be writing, art, work, fitness, etc., I’m certain it’s normal to experience different waves of motivation and drought throughout our journeys. I also think it’s really important to recognize and accept that these ebb and flows are normal, because it also helps us attune ourselves to our own natural cycles and even other cycles around us that directly affect our wellness, motivation, and overall being.

A couple of years ago, I started this blog and began writing about lots of things that were on my mind – design, outdoor adventures, motherhood, camping with kids, my journey in finding spirituality through nature, and just about anything else that was flowing through my brain. I felt a bit like a word faucet and I couldn’t turn it off. I would lie awake at night basically writing my next blog or Instagram post in my head, because I had LOTS of thoughts all of the time. I was stepping into a deep transformation of my soul and identity, and as I began peeling back many layers to who I am, I experienced this deep sense of awakening. It was really exciting! Although I was worried what others might think, I felt like I was really giving purpose to my journey. I felt like I had something to share with the world. This old version of me was sort of dying, making room for a new version to be born — and I was ready to bring people along with me.

Writing was very therapeutic for me. It got me through a lot. It also caused me to be questioned by people close to me…but that’s the part of being vulnerable that is scary. I released this version of myself to the world that I don’t think most people knew existed. Many of us experience this transformation bursting at our seams but we’re to scared to show it to or share it with the world. But once we do, whether it’s through writing, a change of relationships, a move, a career change, etc., then we allow ourselves to start on the path of moving towards our truth. And those other people that question you or where your truth is coming from – well they can either choose to come along with you and experience your transformation or they can be left in the dust.

The last time I wrote was June 1, 2020.

All that to say, I did all of this sharing and writing and creating, and then about a year ago, I hit a wall. It wasn’t long after the #blacklivesmatter movement really ramped up following the death of George Floyd, (which was also the topic that inspired me to write my LAST blog post…on June 1st, 2020). Actually, what is crazy, is that I’m writing this on the 1 year anniversary of his murder — almost 1 year to the date that I wrote that last blog post. I experienced a lot of grief and dis-ease last summer, as I know many people did. I felt more conflict with myself and others then I’ve ever felt. Writing about something you feel extreme passion for, only to have people attack those beliefs and perspectives, can lead to a real quick burnout if you’re not ready or used to it. I had so much to say and share, and I did that until I absolutely couldn’t anymore. And it wasn’t like I didn’t WANT to share things…I still had so much turmoil within me that I’m sure writing would have helped. But every time I would think about writing or even try to, it just wouldn’t flow. One day I finally accepted that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be writing at that time – maybe it was time for a break and to dive into a period of reflection and self care. So instead of writing, I began reading more. I dedicated my free time to becoming a learner and listener. Looking back on that time, I’m really proud of myself that I was able to honor my intuition and natural flow. And obviously, good things still came out of it. I think it’s so important for us to know when it’s time for us to sit back, listen, learn, and let those voices that need to be lifted up have their time to educate us.

Where did the creative spark come from?

As I journeyed through nearly a year of feeling dry and like I was lacking creativity and passion, something in the back of my mind kept telling me that it was OK. Something told me that this period of time was for a reason – that rest was imperative and I needed to take it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to create and share in that moment. I tend to struggle with slowing down and being patient. Honoring and paying attention to intuition is actually something that is relatively new for me. I’ve always sort of been a head thinker, looking for instant gratification and success. So to look back at this last year — especially through all of the tension, chaos, and information overload — I’m actually so proud of myself for stepping back, slowing down, listening to my body and intuition, and knowing and accepting what was best for me.

That being said, as I continued to listen and observe, I have noticed some things creeping back in which have signaled that perhaps change is coming. Old memories on Insta would pop up and I would read my old posts – many of which are very lengthly and deep — and I would find myself amazed at the words that flowed through me. It almost felt like I was reading the words of another person, but nevertheless I found myself inspired. Maybe I was writing those posts to my future self — even it was only one year later.

I have also been reading a few new books this last year that have really inspired me toward action. Parenting books, like Philipa Perry’s The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read or Raising Good Humans by Hunter Clarke-Fields. Self-improvement & Buddhist reads like Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance. And my most recent read (and one of my favorites) – Discover Your Dharma by Sahara Rose. I believe that all of these books fell into my lap for a reason – all bringing me different perspectives and little gold nuggets of information and encouragement that I could tuck away and store for my own transformation.

I also just turned 30 in April, which I have been anxiously awaiting. That sounds weird, but most women that I’ve talked to who are living or have lived through their 30’s have all said the same thing – 30’s are magical. I have felt like I’ve been ready for this decade for a while now, and I’m excited for what it may bring (although one of the first things it has brought me is a knee surgery…yuck). To me, I feel like 30 marks a new decade of complete transformation. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that a lot has changed for me in my personal life over the last few years. A piece of my identity, that I have clung to for nearly my whole life, has died away. And although I’m way more confident and secure in that now, it has come with many changes and challenges.

Another thing that this year has brought me is my Saturn Return. I know some of you are like your whobitty whatty? And let me just say that if you aren’t at all familiar with what a Saturn Return is, then I’m probably not the right person to explain it quite yet…but it all has to do with your natal chart (what was happening astrologically the moment you were born), and I really do believe that it has HUGE implications. Many believe it’s the true beginning of adulthood. It most definitely has signaled huge change and transformation for me, and it only continues to prove more and more that this year is a year of significance for me.

So there have been all of these different ways in which I feel change is coming, which are probably more personal than anything and not super obvious to someone else. But most importantly, over this last year of what has brought intentional silence & learning, I know in my heart that manifestation has also been occurring. In the silence, I’ve become observant. As I committed to being a listener, I also have become more aware of my truth. And in certain moments I have been blown away with certain things aligning. Before I would have called these instances coincidences, but I believe without a doubt that they are the universe beginning to nudge me toward a deeper calling. Whether it’s paying attention to what’s happening astrologically or what I’m reading – I know a shift is occurring and it’s really exciting to be in this place of anticipation.

I have a creative spark again — now what?

Now the hard part is knowing where to begin once you feel passionate and motivated. Especially in today’s world where you see so many self-made entrepreneurs and creatives who have their niche and have done so much from their platforms. If you’re like me and don’t feel like you have one specific calling, it gets even trickier. Discover Your Dharma has been such a helpful book to read and re-read because she really breaks down what it means to discover your purpose and what to do once you know what that is (Dharma = purpose). Sahara Rose also has a podcast that I highly recommend, called The Highest Self Podcast. If you feel like all of this vibes with you, you’ll probably love anything Rose touches. I feel like she’s a true godsend in my awakening and transformation.

Because I’m currently in this awakening period, I can’t speak too much to how you arrive at where you’re going once you feel ready, but so far I’ve just been surrounding myself with as many inspiring things as possible – books, podcasts, art, projects, meditation, exercise, self care, etc. I try to read every night before bed, even if it’s only a few pages, of a book that is going to leave me feeling inspired even when I wake up. I’m trying to be better about meditation – even if it’s 5 minutes a day. I’ve never been good at this one, so we’ll see if I can stick with it. 🙂 So far, all of the above are really helping me stay grounded and connected to myself during this time of awakening and discovering. And because I’m technically an artist, I use art as a way to keep me inspired. Drawing, doodling, henna, scrolling through IG for inspo — anything and everything that speaks to me.

I don’t exactly know what my dharma is at this moment – but I feel like I’m moving in the direction of discovering what that is. I have narrowed down the things that inspire and give me energy. I’m learning to throw out the things that are draining and don’t serve me (for example I just recently stared scaling back on the services or products that I offer which take away from the type of design work that I really want to be doing). I’m learning to set boundaries with myself and with others. For my own personality and body/mind/spirit composition, I personally have to keep myself actively engaged and motivated by learning (reading books, taking a class, attending a conference, etc.). I also find myself more inspired when I’m writing and sharing. The last year or so that I haven’t been writing, I’ve found myself repeatedly uninspired and sort of stuck. But when I didn’t have the mental focus to sit down and write, I’d pick up a book and commit to learning instead.

If we aren’t sure about our purpose or creative calling, I believe it’s important to keep trying new things – a new class, a book, podcast, a new routine of some sort — things that keep us actively seeking out what it is that inspires us. If anything else, we will only learn more about ourselves along the way. Sahara Rose says,

The universe has far greater knowledge of our capabilities than we will ever understand. All we have to do is follow the excitement.

Sahara Rose, Discover Your Dharma

Our purpose, or dharma, might not be the thing that makes the most money. It might not give us benefits, or PTO, or guaranteed weekends off, but our true purpose is the thing that actually gives us life. It allows us the freedom to become more who we are meant to be, and it also is a form of expression of who we are meant to be. We all have it, but unfortunately our society really has really only ever applauded a very traditional way of being successful – college degrees, long resumes, higher salaries, and the good ol’ 9-5, working for the man. These are all great if they are truly what you want — but for those of us that feel different, like we don’t really belong in a typical “career” or cringe at the idea of a resume, those traditional ideas can really get in the way of discovering who we truly are and what we are made for. It’s relatively easy to find a job that would allow us to live comfortably, but comfortable isn’t always good. Maybe some folks are OK with comfortable, but I’ve learned enough about myself over the last few years to know that I am not my highest self when I’m just comfortable. I feel successful, driven, motivated, purposeful when I am challenged with multiple projects and building my business. I feel gratification when I’m asked to speak for a class or write a blog post where someone is asking me to teach them something about what I know. I feel important and purposeful when people reach out to me on Insta and ask for my opinion or recommendation. I think at everyone’s core – we just want to feel important. So what is the thing that makes you feel important?

Self-discovery leads to creativity, and vice-versa

On the journey of finding what makes us feel creative and important, it’s inevitable that we would learn a whole lot about ourselves on the way. If you have absolutely no idea what your higher calling could be, I’d really recommend diving into some good personality tests that help you see yourself at a deeper, more objective level. For me, knowing my Enneagram and Dosha archtypes have been most insightful into helping me understand myself on a deeper level, who I vibe with, and what situations and projects are best for experiencing my highest self. Once I know what those are, I can commit to experimenting with different projects, forms of self care, new classes, paid jobs, etc., and see what my experience is like with each of those. As I try these new things, I stay attuned to how I feel throughout all of them. Do I look forward to them or do I resent them? Is it hard for me to prioritize them? How do I feel after I have finished doing one of them? This is where I am currently at in my personal journey, and I can say without a doubt that these different forms of creativity and learning are leading me to a greater understanding of self-discovery. So, getting to know yourself never really ends – you need it to find your creative purpose, and if you’re paying attention, self-discovery also happens when you’re participating in things that are teaching you something about yourself.

Now that I have some hindsight on this last year, I can see without a doubt that the writer’s block and lack of creativity that I was experiencing was all for a reason — it wasn’t a season of sharing and creating for me. It was a season of learning and listening, self reflection, meditation, focusing on my marriage, and waiting. And now I don’t have to feel bad or guilty or like I was missing out on something, because there was so much being repaired and built on a deeper level. These periods of pause and reflection can propel ourselves into something higher and greater than ourselves. Getting to know and understand myself has been the key for me in moving past this period of pause and progressing toward my true, higher purpose.

Sources:
Clark-Fields, Hunter. Raising Good Humans. 2019.
Perry, Philippa. The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read. 2019.
Rose, Sahara. Discover Your Dharma. 2021.
Rose, Sahara (Host). Highest Self Podcast. 2017-present


Featured Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash