on being discouraged

So last week one friend got discouraged, and another bloggy person took an at home rest cure, and it started me thinking again about this business of being creative just how much it takes out of you, and what happens when the inspiration runs out? 
Se, here's the thing about being creative: it's a heck of a lot of work. Trust me when I say that it's much easier to just follow than it is to continually pull together ideas and create something where before there was nothing, and, what's more, create something unique. And while I appreciate well-reasoned critics and enjoy their commentary and definitely think that any piece of creative work needs to be able to stand up to scrutiny, sometimes I head nagging, yammering, uninformed nit-picking and it makes me want to say "Just go create ONE SINGLE THING--I don't even care what, you can even bake a cake for all I care--and then come back and we'll try this again." Because constantly pushing yourself is hard work. (This is why I no longer carry my camera to personal events; I can no longer turn off "photographer brain," that phenomenon whereby I'm constantly checking the light, looking for angles, and trying to shoot mundane subjects in a way that hasn't been shot before.) 
Ahem. Sorry. That's a bit of a rant, I think. 
So anyway, sometimes you (and by "you" I mean me) get tired, right? And there is NOT ONE SINGLE IDEA in your brain that doesn't involve a) a couch b) chips or c) eating ice cream right out of the carton. Or, you know, whatever those bad habits are that you revert to in times of stress. 

The above quote may or may not be applicable; I really have no idea. It's just been permanently inscribed on my brain somehow, and I had to share it. But I think it does apply; half of overcoming discouragement is just keeping on. 
Ok, so on the actual process of regaining creativity; I'm to share what works for me and what I've seen, and please share your ideas in the comments or your own posts. I want to know!

The biggest thing for me is rest. Since creativity is a discipline, it's hard work! And work is, by definition, tiring, no matter how much you love it. So when I start losing ideas, the first thing I try to do is catch up on my sleep. (Sadly, if you are stressed this doesn't always work, since the brain is racing in circles attempting to resolve issues and you just can't sleep.) 
Sometimes I need to do something else that I love. I suppose this sort of falls under rest, because turning off my brain can definitely jumpstart it again later. Reading a delightfully fun book, going on a picnic, building a bonfire in my backyard and making s'mores with friends, or hitting the local goodwill are my favorite ways to relax and distract my brain. On a related note, the more balanced my life is between life/work/solitary time/socialization, the more ideas I have, it seems. 
So now I'm rested and relaxed and my house is clean (yes, this helps me), and I'm still hating the thought of generating a new idea? This is when I start hitting the inspiration hard. Movies, books, blogs, and music all kickstart my brain into high gear. 
These are my favorites:
Movies: Marie Antoinette, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Atonement, Vanity Fair, I Capture the Castle. Most of these films have a common theme: they're absolutely gorgeous to look at. I can watch them with the sound turned off, and they start my brain whirling with new ideas of ways to use light and angle and props. 
Books/Magazines: I have a stack of old Vogues that I flip through periodically, as well as the "Day in the Life" series of books. Also, I am strangely obsessed with any behind-the-scenes of a restaurant book, starting with Michael Ruhlman's "chefs trio" through Kitchen Confidential, and now am lusting over the new book by Eric Ripert
Blogs: This could be a long, long list, but I'll pick my top five. Lauryl, Color Me Katie, Poser, E, Doe Deere
Music: I listen to music slightly oddly; when I hear it, in my head I see scenes that should be happening in time to it. I know, right? So a good roundup of the iPod can give me ideas like nothing else. Best ones: Amy Seeley, Vampire Weekend, Ray Lamontagne, Mika.  Soundtracks: The Patriot, The Last Kiss, Les Miserables (dreamcast!), Band of Brothers
Ok, enough of my ramblings. What do you do when creativity is at an all-time low? 


{lauryl} said…
I do much the same as you do... in fact, every film on your list is one that I own and watch and re-watch frequently. Visual imagery is huge for me. But I like the idea of this post and I think I shall post something like this of my own. It will be a good reminder when I'm feeling less than creative. ;)
fashiongirl said…
Old fashioned advice, but still works: drink water. You're supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, and once you get used to it, you start to crave it and you feel alot better. Or so I find.
ambika said…
I was definitely thinking about this just the other day, but more in reference to finding a balance between creative life and all the rest of life (work, family, friends)--and how it sucks when being creative starts to feel like another obligation, another thing on the to-do list. I think taking a rest becomes necessary when I start to feel that way--as much as I don't want to!
Marisa said…
Finding balance -- which often times means letting go of some things that I might want to do -- is definitely big for me. I notice that when all the aspects of my life are in balance, I am happier + more creative. Since I'm not a hugely creative person by nature, it becomes even more important.

Side note: many times when I start to feel discouraged about my writing and/or my creative life, it's because I'm spending too much time reading blogs and magazines and the like (so overwhelming!)

Even though outside inspiration is an important part of the process, there's something to be said for shutting the doors, pulling the blinds and letting your original inner self bloom.

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