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Beating ‘Blue Monday’: Getting Past Creative Inertia

In the next couple of weeks, the newspapers and websites will be running articles about how it’s Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. There’s a kind of formula to it – about the relationship between the time since Christmas, the weather, debt levels, motivational levels and the time since we have failed at our Resolutions. This year, it’s due to be either the 16th or the 23 January.  It’s really not ‘scientific’ at all, and the media get some more stories out of it, as it’s a good way to make you feel like a fool for having bought into all their New Year’s Resolution chat.

However, with all this buzz around, it’s a good time to talk about the lows of creative work, especially when I know a lot of people who have expressed their desire to take on creative challenges this year as a way of thinking about resolutions.


* Image source

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, the hardest wall to hit with creativity the end result. Possibility has become reality, and, well, reality is harder to deal with. In the creative stages, it can become anything you want it to be – you have the power to shape and control that potential. But when it’s finished reality shows up the limits of your skills and talents.  Maybe it doesn’t look or taste or feel the way I wanted it to; maybe it doesn’t have the impact that I’d hoped for. Sometimes, it’s just the energy of putting something of yourself out there and feeling vulnerable as a consequence.

This is when inertia tends to set in for me, when I’m tempted just to walk away or live back in the land of possibility and not push through.  But this year, I’m determined for this to be the space where the work really begins, where the reality of taking responsibility for my creative work and myself really kicks in.

Here are some thoughts on getting past the inertia.

– Go lift weights, go for a run, do capoeira, or drop and give me some press-ups! Do whatever it is that makes you feel physically strong and in control.

-Pick up a pen and start scratching out whatever comes to mind – words, shapes, shading, scribbles. Just get back into the feel of putting things down again.

-Dance around in your pants to that song. Just remember to close the blinds first, yeh?

– Write a thank you to the people who have helped you or who inspire you, whether they don’t know who you are or they are someone you see every day.

– Do something creative that you don’t normally do, or using another skill/sense than what you have recently been working with. If you’ve been focusing on the visual side of things lately, do something with texture, or with sound. If you’ve been working on a computer a lot, get back to using pen and paper. Pick up a camera if you haven’t used it in a while, or you know, find a recipe and do some baking. Hint hint.

– Get your hands dirty. Plant things, paint things, bake things. Get them covered in soil, in flour or in colourful paints…even especially if it’s finger painting!

– Do something for the sake of play. Let go and have fun.

– Remember how far you’ve come. That might be years, or it might be a week, but it’s still important to put these feelings in context and to remember why you started.

-Just keep going. Keep putting the work in. Use whatever feelings you have – anger, fear or nerves – to shut out the inertia and keep your mind and your body working.

-Listen to Ira Glass in the video below!


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