For creative folks like us, our “mojo” is our magic sparkle dust. It’s what keeps us creating into the wee hours of the morning, jotting down ideas on the back of Starbucks receipts, and spending all of our money on art and craft supplies. Our “mojo” is more than just a funny word, it’s a necessity.
Yet just as easily as it is for us to get lost for hours on a project, we can also go through periods of nothing. Nada. Not creating a single thing. I know about that, I recently came out of a 2-1/2 yr creative desert. Sure, I drew a little here, worked on plenty of projects for clients, but the mojo – the sparkle dust – it was M.I.A. for a long time.
Losing your mojo can last as little as a few days or as long as a few years. Usually, there’s a few underlying issues that come into play, so today I want to share some ways I’ve been able to come out of my funk. I hope they’ll help you too.
1. Get outside
This one is huge. Did you know that being outdoors, especially in a forest/wooded setting boosts your immune system, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, increases ability to focus, accelerates recovery from surgery or illness, increases energy level, and improves sleep?! Whew! There is research out there to prove that being outside restores you from the inside out. So next time you’ve got a case of the blahs find some nature and just take time to soak it in!
2. Start doodling
If you’ve been hanging around me more than five minutes, you know I’m a serial doodler. I even created a free challenge based on it because doodling helps me so much! You can work out complex thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Not to mention, when you doodle, you are unlocking creative power in your mind. You are forcing yourself to think “out-of-the-box”. Imagine it like strength training, but for your brain.
3. Pray about it
This should actually be #1, because I have found that through persistent prayer, God brings to light the things that are blocking my view. If I’ve lost my mojo, usually it means I’m focusing on the wrong things. When I’m balanced and keeping my priorities in check and taking care of what God’s asked me to work on, creativity is effortless.
If you don’t pray often, I would encourage you to begin asking God what He wants to bring to your attention and wait for a prompting in your heart or a message that feels loud and clear and is scripturally-sound.
4. Clean up your workspace
Obvious, right? But how many of us that consider ourselves “right-brainers” tend to let the mess slide one too many days in a row? Hey, I’m guilty of this myself. I currently have my desk piled to the brim. The thing is though, artists are stereotyped as “messy”,and somehow I think that gives us an excuse in the back of our minds that it is OK and productive to sit in the slew of supplies, papers, half-finished projects, etc. We say things like “I don’t have time”, “This is how I work”, “I create best this way”.
In reality, we need to at least create some clear space to allow our mind and physical bodies to breathe. If this is overwhelming, start in one area and consistently tidy up after each project for 7 days. Ask yourself “Where do I enjoy sitting the most now?”. You might just be surprised!
5. Brain dump
When you have 1,548,390 thoughts racing through your mind at all times, you are not leaving room for anything to actually bloom. You are suffocating your little creative seedlings! Girl (or Bro), you need to write it all down. Literally dump everything out of your brain onto a piece of paper, a chalkboard, dry erase board, etc. It doesn’t have to be super organized, just get those thoughts out of your head and onto a page.
Want to take it a step further? Start using some free software like Asana or Trello to organize your project ideas, business goals, or upcoming events. You can even create mind maps that will help you sort through the chaos at a later date. Ah…that feels better.
6. Go to the library
When I was a kid, my sister and I would walk a few miles to the Downtown Library and immerse ourselves in books. It didn’t matter what the subject matter was (I usually went for the biographies or historical fiction titles, myself), we’d usually end up checking out at least 10 books each. When we begin to dive into subjects we are passionate about, our souls can’t wait to interpret them creatively.
I remember a few summers ago, I was at the Miami-Dade public library and stumbled upon a Hawaiian art book. I immediately remembered how in awe I was looking at the milky, soothing murals of traditional dance and rituals on our Hawaiian honeymoon. When I checked out the book, I had to practice some of the techniques I saw – limited, muted color palettes and realistic, yet stylized illustrations.
It’s not just LaVar Burton who wants you take a look in a book – I do, too.
7. Limit your options
If you’ve been in the art or crafting world for more than a year, you have too many things to create with.
I’m not saying you need to start selling (see #4 though, ahem) but you should be limiting yourself to just a few supplies if you’re feeling overwhelmed. After being on several design teams in the past, I realized that my favorite boxes of happy mail were kits. Kits have a limited amount of elements. Kits force you to come up with creative solutions. Kits are good.
Make your own kits out of your stash! Challenge yourself to 5 items or less and see what you can come up with.
8. Get off social media
This goes along with #1 but the fact is, most of us are plugged in way too much during the day and at night. I don’t have the stats for you – and they vary anyway – but we need to lay off the screen time. Not just because of the physical health implications, but because of the emotional ones.
We’ve all been there. We create something we’re halfway excited about, log onto our bloggity-blog (or Pinteresty-Pins, Instagramy-Grams?…) and see that someone else has done it better. “What do I have to offer?” you might ask yourself sometimes. Well, don’t. But I can’t say “Don’t” if you can’t pull yourself away.
I have struggled with my inner critic and comparing myself to others and do you know what? It doesn’t pay. If you find yourself feeling blah after being on social media, time to take a breakity-break.
9. Get some rest
Guys, I have three kids, and soon I’ll have four. I have had so many conversations with my husband asking him HOW I will find time to do all that I do plus be a good mom, good wife, blah blah blah. He never has a perfect answer for me, and I shouldn’t even put that responsibility on him in the first place.
Thing is, if you have too many commitments, pare down. Yes, this may mean saying no. And absolutely, you may feel horrible saying no, it gets easier with practice. I highly recommend reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst if this is something that speaks to you or that you struggle with. There is no time for anything creative when you’re out of hours for the day. Your mind, body, and spirit all need rest to be your best.
Feeling balanced and finding your mojo takes practice. It takes practice to identify what’s going on and what steps you need to take to remedy it.
Having recently gone through this process (and sometimes, multiple times!) and finally have my mojo back! There is hope for you too, friend.
In fact, I’ve felt such a surge of creativity again that I’m finally re-launching my art as clipart and digital SVG files. You can get the scoop on that here!
Now it’s your turn.
Remember that if something’s feeling a little “off”, it’s time to do a mic-check, one-two and really explore why.
How will you begin implementing some of the ideas above to get your mojo back? Let me know in the comments.
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