— Jenny Neill

When Inspiration Fails, Innochat

Blogging (almost) every day while juggling the demands of volunteer work, keeping the freelance life afloat, and having time for non-work activities started to wear on me last week. For the first time in what felt like too long a time, I “tuned in” to one of my favorite online gathering places today to discover the topic was a perfect fit for my work attitude. Drew Marshall stepped up to the challenge of framing a topic for us to discuss when inspiration failed him.


Photo courtesy of bornazombie. Some rights reserved.

How do you know you have run “dry?”

Resistance, avoidance, distraction, exhaustion, seeking diversion, and the strong desire to take a nap are all signs that the mental well is empty. The procrastinations we described ranged from bouts of completing chores typically avoided to the dreaded “technology loop.”

Perhaps worst of all are those bouts of self-defeating analysis paralysis, which happen when you stop analyzing the task or problem and turn to overanalyzing why you don’t feel inspired.

What causes this uninspired state?

Exhaustion and taking on too many projects came up as frequent culprits for an apathetic mood. Others struggle most without a goal or deadline in place. Not being able to see the point of coming up with a new idea is a surefire creativity killer for most.

How do you cope with feeling uninspired?

Shaking things up in one fashion or another was the most common theme. Almost anything to change your routine can work. Tweeters suggested both the tabula rosa approach and its opposite, making a mess of things. Turning off the digital distractions and taking it to the whiteboard, to paper, or even to molding clay are all ways to keep composing using different media.

Another favorite is to get out of your head by getting into your body. Turn off the digital devices and rejoin the real world. Try doing yoga, taking a walk, dancing, kicking and chopping in a karate class, riding a bike, or one of many other physical activities.

My personal favorite to reset the mind? Smell something. Judy Gombita suggested “…sniffing strong-smelling spices, foods or plants; deep breath coffee beans or curry” as a way to kickstart one’s imagination and I couldn’t agree more.

Sniffing a Rose

Photo courtesy of Liam Wilde. Some rights reserved.

What gets you re-engaged?

Talking to other people, be it colleagues or friends, was a common way back to mental engagement. Looking outside of your knowledge domain for a while also helps. Taking an art break by visiting a museum or gallery or listening to music activates different parts of the brain. Even going to see a dramatic performance or a comedy show can help get the creative engines going again.

As usual, I left my time with Innochat feeling energized and equipped with some new places to turn when I face my next case of “I got nothing.”

Here are some resources the Innocats suggested for the next time you need to rekindle your imagination: