What to do when you feel uninspired

I’ve been in my feelings lately. Prepare for more self-improvement posts.

I listened to a podcast from The Lavendaire Lifestyle (What to do when you’re uninspired, unmotivated, in a rut) because it intrigued me. I feel like I have been lazy in my creative endeavors, including this blog, and it isn’t making me happy. I haven’t been working on the novel I’ve been writing, nor have I been giving my best effort to this blog. But a part of me isn’t feeling excited about it.

So how to you pull yourself out of this uncaring, unmotivated state?

Aileen Xu, who runs the podcast, first suggests thinking about what makes you excited. There are many things in life to be excited about. She notes that life has “its ups and downs,” and that there is no constant state of being. We will not always be happy, nor will we always be sad. Emotions come and go. And so too will this feeling of being stuck.

One way to help with pulling yourself together when times like these come is to “appreciate the highs” and to know that the lows are temporary. We will start working again. We can do this.

Xu continues with some tips on how to start feeling motivated again:

  • Trying something new can help spark some creativity. Sometimes we get so stuck in our daily lives, that we start living routinely. This can make us feel stuck or tired. Spice things up a bit. Do something different.
  • Researching people you admire can help you feel more inspired to accomplish your goals.
  • Talk to friends or people who inspire you.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. This can go along with trying something new. We need some challenges in our lives. We need to say we can overcome things in order to feel a sense of accomplishment. These senses can help motivate us to conquer other feats as well.
  • Take care of yourself (exercise, unplug, eat healthy, etc.) First and foremost, you are important. Don’t stress yourself out too much. Work hard, but make sure you work hard at taking care of you too.
  • Journal. Write out some of your goals or emotions to help yourself feel better.
  • Be patient. “This too, shall pass.”

Thinking back, I can say there are a few of these tips that have definitely worked for me. When I want to do something creative besides writing, I either color or play with watercolors. I bought myself watercolor pencils and the little tabs, along with adult coloring books to occupy my mind for awhile. Sometimes just playing with colors helps center me. It’s something different and more interactive with my hands. At least I tell myself it is.

I really miss talking with a good friend of mine about our writing projects. We are both working on novels, but she is doing much better than I am! She is so close to being done and she is so excited and hard-working. I wish I was more like that in my own work. Also, she is willing to listen and give advice about my project, which helps me feel good about what I am writing… which makes me want to write it! Maybe I should hit her up…

Journaling is not something I always do. Sometimes when I am really feeling upset or feeling like I need to update myself on my own life, I will write a little. It helps me figure out why I am feeling a certain way, or to release any feelings I have been holding in, or to just plan future goals. This helps me find out where I have been and where I would like to be going… Maybe I should grab a pen…

I have been trying to take care of myself better, but it’s hard to want to exercise after standing for eight hours during the day. i know, it sounds like excuses, but who doesn’t want to curl up after work and just watch hours of TV until you have to go to bed and do it all over again? But I must say, exercising and eating the right foods has improved my moods and overall well-being. I am less tired, less irritable. I feel more positive about myself and in the things I can do.

Xu ends with the notion of being patient. Emotions come and go, and you will feel inspired again. Oftentimes I feel like I will feel a certain way forever, that there is no escaping. But it will pass. Something good always happens to lift me up, even if it’s minor. just wait for that little peak of sunshine. It’ll come.

I wanted to add a few actions I do for myself in the attempt to feel motivated about a particular project during down periods:

Don’t make it a chore. Sometimes I feel like I HAVE to write every day. Or that i MUST write at least 1,000 words a day. And I must do it now. A lot of writers or writing websites claim that writing SHOULD be a habit, and that you should do it every day. But I don’t work like that. I feel like I produce my best work when I want to write. Not when I am forcing pen to paper. (Or fingers to keys?) I’ve been trying a new tactic: rethinking the project. Instead of thinking that this is work to be done, I’m trying to think of it as the highlight of my day. Finally, I get to write. Finally, I can hole up in my head and create. It helps make it feel less like work.

Next, I try to think about what good will come of working on my project. Sometimes the “other” thoughts leak in, depending on what kind of mood I’m in, but generally I can keep it tame and positive. Writing today means less work later. It means I am closer to a finish line. It is one step closer to saying “I WROTE a novel” instead of “I am writing a novel.” Little positive affirmations help perk my interest in working again… most of the time.

This one is tried and true: go outside. Seriously, take a break and just go outside. I don’t care if you sit in your backyard, go to the beach, a park, whatever. Just enjoy some sun. Hey, even enjoy some rain. Just. Go. Out. It’s easy to get up, go to work, come home, and then sit inside for the rest of your life. Being outside for even an hour makes me rethink life in a positive way. Nature is the original muse for a reason. So go enjoy it.

We can’t always help feeling a little down or uninspired sometimes. It just happens. And that’s okay. Take a break from the project and find a way to relax so you can pump yourself back up again. Not everything needs to be done immediately. It’s okay to take your time. It is also okay to scrap a whole project in favor of a new one. Or to rethink something entirely.

Being creative is a process and nothing is linear. If you find yourself overthinking or pushing yourself away from a project, ask yourself: “what makes me excited?” And start again.

Have any of your own tips to add? Want to share a project you have been working on? Share in the comments!