Written by Michaela MacBlake Matthews
Do you need to be in a calm, relaxed state to be creative? Sometimes, we put our creative sides up on a pedestal, thinking that we have to wait for the right moment, a clear mind, and a strike of inspiration to be creative. But is that really true?
Why You Should Create When You Aren’t Feeling Serene?
Although we often associate calm, happy, and free-flowing states with creativity, most of us don’t stay in that realm 24/7. That doesn’t make us any less creative! The trouble with limiting yourself to creating during these idyllic moments is that there will never be enough of them. On the contrary, mustering up the grit to attempt a flow state on a rough day will help to switch gears and create more good days, and helps make the transition easier over time.
How To Get Creative When You’re In A Bad Mood
Creativity can be summed up by a few processes: inspiration, improvisation, and follow-through. Each of these things can happen more easily on their own when you’re in a good mood, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible on a rainy day! To get those creative juices flowing, we’re going to take a look at each of these, and break up the common creative blocks that stop us from doing what we love.
How To Get Inspired
Inspiration is not a thing, but a mix of things coming together in new ways. The idea of finding inspiration can be a little misleading, almost as if it’s out there somewhere, unknown and untouched. Really, inspiration is something to be remembered! Most often, the places we find our inspiration come from our own memories, and how we would like to rearrange them for an exciting future.
When we’re feeling depressed, anxious, or angry, it can be easy to forget about the things we love, and the times we felt good. So, the first step to getting into a creative state of mind is to list out the muses of the past. Imagine your past creations in your mind’s eye, and think back to why you made them. What were you thinking of then? What was a time when you felt like the world was your oyster, and how did the air smell that month? What season was it? Keep unraveling your old sparks, and sooner or later, something will ignite!
How To Improvise Creatively
Once you’ve reflected on your muses and emotions, look for a pattern, a scrap of material to experiment with, or start on a sketch. Don’t think too hard about what it’ll become, but just get started and let it unfold. When we are stressed, we often become hyper fixated on outcomes, and remove ourselves from the present moment. If this is holding you back, choose something impermanent to work on. Make a test piece, doodle on some lined notebook paper, or even use chalk to get started. That way, if you don’t love it, you can easily start over.
How To Follow Through With Arts And Crafts Projects
Possibly the hardest part about creating from a not-so-great mood is the follow through; the technical ability and focus aspects of creating. It can be frustrating to try and craft if you’re so anxious you’re shaking, or so depressed that it’s tiring to sit upright. Especially for those among us with chronic pain, this can be the final nail in the coffin for a crafting day.
However, this mental block is carved out by routines. Maybe you could get the ball rolling and it wouldn’t be so difficult after the first fifteen minutes- or, maybe it would. Even if it is difficult, though, do you really have to use that chair, or be in that room? Could you bring your craft to the place you are now? If you’re shaky today, consider altering your style to be looser. You can always go back later and touch up some of the finer details, anyhow. Finding ways to get started can usually spark some momentum, and decrease friction for the rest of the day!
Every Little Bit Counts
At the end of the day, good-mood creation may be easier and more fruitful than keeping up a rhythm at first glance, but over time, all of those ‘blah’ day creations are what really count to keep the ideas flowing, and the skills becoming more fine-tuned. Even just committing to ten minutes of creativity every single day comes out to five hours per month. Whether it's spent chipping away at a big project, experimenting, or skill-drills, one year of these little chunks is like taking a sixty hour creative retreat… That’s huge!
So, no… You do not need to be serene to create. Or relaxed, or happy, or even actively inspired. If you want to see yourself as a creative person, and to carry that on throughout life, I’d say that the more off-kilter creating you can do, the better! It’s all just compounding for the next muse in the long haul, anyways.
"Mac" is on the Lifestyle Team here at Darn Good Yarn, and loves taking a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach to creative therapy. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming, and is also the surreal artist and author behind Surrealismac.