No matter what area of the business you work in, you likely have times where your motivation has disappeared and you aren’t sure when (or if) it’s going to return. Perhaps you are avidly avoiding reading all of the scripts that piled up while you were in production. Maybe you are having trouble writing for more than a paragraph or two, even though you’re not lacking for ideas or projects. There are a million ways to distract ourselves, but you don’t need to run away to a cabin in the woods without internet to get things done. Whether you are looking to clear out mental clutter or just need to reinvigorate your passion, here are five ideas that have worked for me – hopefully one or two may help you through your creative roadblock.
1. Read about what you’re trying to do.
It can be a magazine, a new book, a memoir, something recommended to you, fiction, non-fiction; it doesn’t matter. It just needs to be something that will remind you of the excitement and enthusiasm that brought you to this particular creative pursuit. Are you an actor? Read a memoir of someone you admire. A writer? Read a book about the writing process or a fantastic book in the genre you’re looking to write. A filmmaker? Try out MovieMaker or FilmMaker magazine. You can try blogs, but since we usually are creating tangible things, I prefer to read tangible objects that I can highlight, take notes on or rip out. Whatever inspires you and causes you to remember your initial love that pushed you to work in our industry will work. It’s great to read about what others are accomplishing in your field. It’s usually a big motivator and you learn something new to boot!
Many times when I feel unmotivated, I don’t want to do anything at all, much less work out or go to the gym. However, even a walk around the block will get your blood flowing and your mind working, so you will return home or to your office pumped to start your next project and accomplish things. Regular exercise is also linked to more energy and deeper sleep. These added benefits to your health and mental clarity will also increase your ability to focus and get you through stressful situations. Speaking of mental clarity…
Most of my friends are interested in meditation, but find the idea of sitting for any amount of time thinking about nothing intimidating. There are many different ways to meditate. Traditional yoga is a way to meditate as it teaches you to focus on your breath. The usual ending pose of Savasana is given to total relaxation. Equating meditation to relaxation of the mind is an easier way to approach beginning meditation practice. We are bombarded by our personal thoughts and generally, our only break is what little sleep we allow ourselves. If you are able to find another way to give yourself a mental break, it can only create positive repercussions. On top of your enhanced clarity, more and more research is coming out that shows the benefits of even a brief daily meditation practice. Personally, meditation is the single most important addition to my life that I’ve started in the past few years. For more information on the benefits of meditation, I’ve included some links at the end of the article.
4. Create a habit.
When I decided to incorporate meditation into my life, I chose a specific chair in a specific area of my apartment and a specific time of day to meditate. Now, it is part of my morning routine, right after brushing my teeth. If you are having trouble sticking to something (writing consistently, for example), try to tie that action to something else that you always do. Make it a habit. Get home, have a glass of wine and write for an hour before making dinner. This is of course harder when you are busy and pressed for time, but figure out what works by playing around with your routine. Don’t be afraid to change it up if it stops working, either. For my writing, I used to write in the morning. However, I try to jam pack everything into the morning (exercise, meditation, writing, doing the dishes) and that doesn’t always work, especially because I have other obligations on my day that require me to be out of the house at a certain time.
5. Reward yourself.
When you have done good work or created a habit that is successful, don’t forget to reward yourself. If you are currently working a day job and find yourself distracted all of the time, try working straight through for 50 minutes and then reward yourself by checking back on your favorite websites or blogs for 10 minutes. If you start exercising and keep to a routine for a month, celebrate by buying a new workout outfit. If you have accomplished something (whether it be nailing that audition or submitting an article to a new publication), sign up for that workshop you’ve been conflicted about taking.
Overall, try to be more forgiving of yourself. If you have found that you are unable to focus on a project completely and have been so for awhile, perhaps this is not the project you should be working on right now. Reward yourself for accomplishing mundane tasks you have to do for a project by then working on the part that you find most interesting. Read something that will inspire and excite you into action. Never let yourself grow complacent. And good luck!