As an artist, sometimes your well runs dry. You wish you had more oomph in you, but it’s gone. That’s one of the hardest places to be as a creative person. I want to be inspired. I want to contribute and have something interesting to say, but a lot of times, I don’t.
There have been times when this has happened, and I’ve let myself just sit in that lonely lackluster place. I would let myself almost brood over not having inspiration, hoping that, by staying committed, I would somehow birth an incredibly beautiful piece of art. It really doesn’t work that way.
As hard as it seems, you have to disconnect. You need to run the other way. No more striving, just resting. In times like these, your spirit is telling you that it needs life poured back into it.
One of the things that helps me during these times of drought is reconnecting with the Lord. He is, after all, the source of all creativity. His ideas are always good ideas. And if I’m striving in my own strength and getting nowhere, it’s definitely time to stop and adjust my focus.
Some of the things that I love to do to rekindle the creative flame are:
- Be a contemplative
Don’t go join a monastery, per se, but let yourself enter into a space that is quiet and simple. Let your mind let go of all the burdens it’s been holding onto, and just be. I like to get away from all electronics and take a walk outside.
You step out of your home, the wind hits you like a sweet reminder. The sun fills your eyes and touches your skin. You let the warmth of life seep into you, and breathe deeply. Walk slowly, noticing the leaves as they sway or the squirrels as they jump. Make yourself slow down and just look. Remember that God is in the stillness. He is not rushed by time or concerned by problems. He is the Master Creator, and in His stillness, we can find new life for ourselves.
A fun way to do this is to drive to a local church that has a prayer labyrinth. Walk the maze allowing every turn and step to remind you that God is in control of even the tiniest details in our lives.
- Get Wordy
Journaling isn’t for everyone, but I find that if I just pick up a pen and put it to paper, then something will come out of me. It doesn’t matter what it sounds like or what it is. I just need to get the words out. Usually, writing will lead you somewhere you didn’t know you needed to go.
Oftentimes, I will get to writing, and after several paragraphs where I talk about things that are bothering me, I’ll wind up talking about all the things in my life that I’m thankful for. It helps me remember the beauty that I already have in my life. My spirit gets lifted, and I usually end by writing a prayer to the Lord.
I had never meditated until a few years ago. At first, I found it weird and hard. How am I supposed to clear my mind when there’s so much noise in there? I found it really taxing, but the more I did it, the better I got. It actually changed some underlying anxiety my body was hanging onto.
A really great resource is Nigel Mumford. He’s an Episcopal priest whose ministry focuses on healing prayer. The CD I have is called Relaxation and Healing Prayer. It’s great for clearing your mind and remembering who God is for you. He is your healer, your advocate, and your friend.
Letting myself rest in the stillness that meditation offers helps rebalance my mind and bring me back to a place of peaceful trust in the Father.
Letting yourself get lost in someone else’s creativity can often spur your own. I’m currently reading Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle. It’s been a great read, and I highly recommend it. Other great resources are Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott as well as An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor.
The point is to find something that spurs you on. Let someone else’s words push you forward and help you get back on creative ground. Sometimes, I’ll just spend time reading George MacDonald’s autobiography because he’s one of my favorite people, and his life gives me creativity. Find what works for you, and make it a habit to spend time reading the things that breathe life into you.
Of course, the best place to receive creativity is the Word itself. The Bible is such a great source of inspiration. Psalm 18 is one of my personal favorites. Here are verses 4 through 16 (NIV).
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
Man, that’s so good! I love the part where the psalmist says, “he soared on the wings of the wind.” Can you imagine our Heavenly Father riding on cherubim and flying on the wings of the wind as He comes down from heaven to rescue you? What an incredible visual! There’s just something about Psalm 18 that lights me up and helps me remember the wonder of our God.
Above all, remember that your Heavenly Father is pleased with you. Do not strive to be creative in order to meet some sort of man-made expectation. Our Father has planted everything in you that you need. 2 Peter, chapter 1, verse 3 says, “For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (AMP).
All we need to do is connect with Him, the source of all creativity. Don’t strive, don’t rush; just rest and remember.
Image by Chris Lawton