What do you do when you don’t feel like drawing?
I confess. There have been a lot of days of late when making art is a struggle. Too many things on my to-do list is usually the cause, but there are other times when I just don’t feel creative.
There are a lot of reasons to lose that creative spark. Illness. Stress. Circumstances. Even the most creative and optimistic person goes through times of creative apathy.
I, for one, wrestle with depression on a regular basis. That’s part of the reason I haven’t watched broadcast news in years.
The last few weeks have been especially difficult. In addition to the challenges of publishing one magazine and one tutorial every month, and daily chores that must be done, there have been losses in our circle of friends. Three funerals in our congregation in less than two months is a bit to take in. Things like that tend to make all the other things in day-to-day life heavier. More difficult to bear.
Combined with broader circumstances, personal situations like these can easily dampen creativity.
When You Don’t Feel Like Drawing
Can you do anything about creative apathy?
Understand What’s Happening
It’s important to understand what’s going on internally.
When you’re unwell, rest is important. I’ve learned that lesson (again) this week, and have yielded to the need to rest, even when it seems necessary every two hours. It takes time to recover and recovery takes energy. Accept the fact that it may be some time before your mind and body have recovered to the point that creativity returns.
It’s also important to know yourself. For example, I know that I’m prone to mild depression and that it can easily turn into something worse. So I take precautions. Vitamin D taken on a daily basis is a good preventative.
So is daily Bible reading (especially the psalms) and prayer. There is a noticeable difference between days started that way and days started without it.
I also know I need to keep news intake to a minimum and that I need to be selective in my sources.
And I know that there will be days when nothing seems important.
Since I know days like this will happen, they’re not as debilitating when they occur. I also know from past experience that they pass. That, my friend, is important.
Depression may not be your problem. You may have family or work responsibilities that either take time away from art or leave you too exhausted to be creative. The key is recognizing the things that leave you creatively apathetic, and to know whether or not they can be avoided, reduced, or delegated.
Have a Plan of Action
It’s not enough to understand what’s happening. It’s just as important to develop a plan of action.
Whether you’re dealing with external situations or internal situations, find ways to work around them. How, you ask? Start by evaluating circumstances.
Are they internal or external?
Are they short-term or long-term?
Can you do anything about them or are they beyond your control? Be careful with this one. It’s so easy to think you have no control at all when you may have some control. It’s just as easy to think you can fix everything when you may not be able to.
Take the time to accurately assess your circumstances, understand what you can do, and what you can’t do.
Think of ways to do what you can, and avoid worrying over the things you can’t change.
Don’t Wait for Creative Apathy to Plan for It
Ideally, make your plans when you are in a creative mood because you won’t want to do it when you’re not already creative.
Nothing is more discouraging than trying to figure out how to handle a situation while you’re in the middle of it. Sure, the first time it happens to you, you may be caught off guard. That’s understandable.
Once you’ve experienced it, however, it’s time to consider how to respond the next time.
Keep it Simple
But keep it simple. Don’t plan elaborate things even if they seem doable when you’re in good spirits. Believe me, there are times when everything looks possible.
“Everything” is not what you need when you don’t feel like drawing or doing anything else creative.
And easy helps, too.
So what do I suggest? Here are a few things I do when I’m down.
Read a good book
Go for a walk
Take a nap (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately!)
Spend time with your spouse and family
Spend time with a pet
Put a jigsaw puzzle together
See? Simple and easy!
You already know what activities you enjoy and that relax you. When you don’t feel like drawing, those activities are your first line of defense.
Find Other Ways to Be Creative
Art isn’t the only way to be creative and it’s possible that your problem is that you’re bored with your art. If that’s the case, you need to find something else to do for a while.
I know many of you do fabric art. Sewing, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch. Do some of that.
Or work wood or cook or bake or whatever else you enjoy that’s in any way creative.
One Thing You Shouldn’t Do
These measures are designed for those times when life gets to you and drains you. Not for simple cases of “I don’t want to draw.” Setting aside drawing on the basis of temporary moods is a certain path to not drawing at all. You don’t want that.
At least I hope you don’t.
When You Don’t Feel Like Drawing
I’m the first to admit that the artist’s life is difficult, especially if your art is more than a hobby. There are days when the last thing you want to do is pick up a pencil and start drawing.
But you don’t have to let creative apathy drag you down long-term. It can be survived!
If you want to read more on this topic, check out Getting and Staying Motivated when Art Gets Tough for more tips.