I’ve been in a funk.
A pretty drawn out creative funk that has my heart palpitating and my whole being put into question. It’s that time of year where this feeling resonates with so many others as well. And while I’m sorry some of you experience this too, it helps to know that I’m not alone.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, that I don’t have ideas, or that I’m not inspired. Actually, I find myself continuously inspired by my surroundings and even here online as well. But every time I sit down to write or to brainstorm another art project I come up empty handed. It’s just not flowing out of me. It’s in there, I can feel it, but it doesn’t want to come out and play.
So a few stops back in Freak-out Ville, I decided to surrender. “Fine” I exclaimed, “You win”. And I threw up my white flag. Perhaps creativity has left me for good I thought, I’m all dried up. Deep down however, I knew that wasn’t true (the proof being this post of course), but sometimes, it really can feel that way.
Instead of coaxing the creativity out of me, I took a step back and decided to refill the well inside myself. That can take some time, but in my experience, letting things jive in their own way is the surest path to getting back on track.
I’m a self-proclaimed book nerd because well, I read all the time, and here, in this massive void of a funk is no exception. I find that seeking guidance in the pages written by those who’ve come before me to be a huge inspiration in getting out of my funk, so I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on. Books that I’ve read many times before, subjects that I haven’t read about in years, and even taking on new books that I might not usually read during times when I’m busy creating, writing, and making. Early morning into late at night, I’ve been letting one book lead voraciously to the next to the next to the next.
Photo: Jenn Lui, Late night reading
“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” ~ William Faulkner
Along those same lines, I’ve been researching… for fun. If something inspires me, I dig deeper for more information and knowledge on the subject. And while this research might not produce any tangible immediate results in my creative endeavors, I know it’s all gets stored in that brain of mine and I’m sure at some point, it will find its way back out and come in handy. What’s most important however is that it’s getting me to think in new ways while also keeping me in touch with my curiosity and at the very edge of that fantastical creative energy that was elusive to me.
Photo: Jenn Lui, Research Mode
I’ve come to believe curiosity is the key to flowing creativity.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~ Albert Einstein
And so I find that without fail, after spending a bit of time turning inwards and nourishing my curious creative core that once again, things began to flow. Big ideas that were formless just a short while ago have taken shape, and those foggy concepts that were out of reach are now right in front of me and ready to become something concrete in this world.
During any stay in Funk-Town, it can be a very scary thing to have complete faith that creative productivity will return. But as we trust and surrender to the time when our creative beings need nourishment and restoration, we will find they never actually left us but instead, just spent a bit of time in hibernation. And it is with that knowledge that we set the intention to listen sooner next time, and where we thought there was some level of failure, we now instead see it as a reminder to turn inward and embrace our own creative changing seasons.
My last piece of advice, if you should happen to find yourself in Funk-town, and are compelled to get out of bed at whatever ridiculous hour because you finally have that incredible urge to spill yourself on paper, canvas, or whatever other media, then get out of bed and run. Run like the whole house is burning down and let it all spill out like your survival depended on it. It doesn’t matter what comes out, just that you get it out.
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~ Saul Bellow
I’m happy that I followed that advice myself, or this post would have never come into existence. And it’s with one little step like this that can snowball into other ideas spilling out and now I’m on a roll.
Goodbye Funk-Town. I’m sure I’ll be visiting you again, but hopefully not anytime soon.
Originally Published on Elephant Journal