Getting out of the Funk
We all know those times when no idea is forthcoming, nothing seems to work, and everything that comes out of us seems like shit. You might call it a funk, or a block, or a rut. What we crave is the opposite, where we do our best work, the flow state, being kissed by the muse, having our shit together and getting it done.
Notice how the one is static while the other is active?
Worst thing you can do in a block is nothing. I’m a vocal proponent of feeling all the feelings and sitting with them and not avoiding the hard stuff, so if you do feel like you’re having a block, by all means, revel in it. Sit with it for a while. But give yourself a deadline. Hell, I’m happy to give you a deadline: You’ve got 10 minutes. Don’t chain yourself to the block indefinitely, just waiting for it to pass, it'll only drag you down. The only way out is through.
Once you’re done sitting in it, move.
Literally, actually, physically get up, move around, move your arms, stretch your legs, go to the gym, go for a walk. Don’t keep sitting and taking care of your accounts or answering emails while you’re at your desk. Don’t make this time for admin stuff, you’ve probably got another time set aside for that.
While you’re moving, pay attention.
Breathe and connect with your inner council. Those parts of your personality and the emotions that are sitting around the big table in your chest. Who’s driving the block? What’s in it for them? Who’s riding shot-gun? Have they done this before? How did you get out of it last time? Who can form a focus group and brainstorm ideas how to keep those guys happy and talk them off the ledge? (or, you know, get them to leave the bus… I don’t know, just trying out some metaphors here.) If you’re moving through nature, take the time to really look at a leaf. Or a bicycle. Or a building façade. Lull your emotions into a sense of peace and calm, before lovingly asking them why they’re being so blocky right now. I like to do this process in writing, and I have a bunch of pages in my daily journal where my fear and self-doubt and empathy and optimism duke it out.
Just pick up a pen
Or a brush, or something you may not always be using. Start doodling. Lines, circles, triangles, baby kittens - put anything on paper. If pen and paper are your usual medium, try watercolor and a canvas or vice versa. Be creative in a different way, as if you’re trying to scratch a piece of brain by making the area next to it vibrate and hum in just the right frequency. Sing karaoke. Learn belly dancing from a YouTube video.
Keep a win-list.
That’s a list of positive messages and feedback you’ve received for your stuff, awards you’ve won, likes you got on an Insta piece, emojis people sent in appreciation, reminders of when you in fact did manage to finish the thing and it didn’t suck. I know, you're in the funk and it's all shit right now, but hey, all is not shit always and forever, because your win-list shows at least 10 examples to the contrary.
Stay off of social media.
Go to a museum. You might still be intimidated by the work of certain masters and pity your own skills not being at that level (yet), but at least you'll be moving around. If you can't put down your phone, use an app like Freedom, Anti-Social, or Offtime to block mindless attention-suckers.
At the end of the day, know that everyone is going through phases of blocks and droughts. They, too, shall pass.