It doesn’t matter whether you are an artist, an athlete, or anyone who has a “big event,” what comes next is universal: the post-event blues. It’s the slump in the period following a big push where you feel drained, empty, and, sometimes, a little bit desperate. You’ve just put so much energy into this one thing, and then that thing is over and done, and you’re left wondering “What’s next?” “What more could I possibly do?” “How am I going to muster up the next thing?”
If you’ve ever felt that way or had those thoughts, I’m right there with ya. It’s a feeling that I’ve experienced before, but each time it takes me by surprise. My creative tank is hovering above low, and I’ve been wandering around my studio, keeping my hands busy, but doubting my ability to create anything at all.
Since creating and launching The Color of My Sky, I’ve been a bit stuck. It’s a combination of equal parts doubt, distraction, and whatever the opposite of creativity is. It feels as if I’ve forgotten how to paint and how to think creatively.
Over the past couple of years that I’ve experienced the creative rut, I’ve always been able to lift myself out of it and get back to doing what I do best. I’ve also learned over the years how to ride it out, and rise strong from the depths.
First: Patience. I just have to let it happen. Allow my creativity some rest. It has worked hard! And it deserves a small break. I’d rather work on a full tank than to constantly be running on fumes. So I let myself get a little distracted with running errands or working on my computer, and give my creativity tank the time to fill back up.
Second: Prepare. Eventually this fog will lift, and I will continue creating, so it helps to stock up on the things I will probably need. The barebones of any project are simple: canvas or paper, pen or pencil, paint. Sometimes just the simple act of ordering or building new canvases and a couple tubes of paint encourages me to look towards the next endeavor.
Third: Play. Some of my best new ideas came when I let myself make something without any fear of the end result. No pressure, no guidelines, I just make something - anything. I’m able to explore new ideas or new color palettes without the fear of the outcome. These things usually never see the light of day, which means I’m the only person who will ever see what comes out of my experimental pieces. This takes loads of pressure off of the final product. There is usually a winning element of these playful pieces that then answers the question of “What’s next?”
The post-event blues are inevitable. Rest is healthy for the mind and the body, and there is no harm in giving it space in my routine. At times, it is so tempting to give in and quit, but the best way to avoid failure is to keep going. The voice in my head telling me that I can’t is LYING!!! I totally CAN. So I continue my routine, I go to the studio (even if I don’t make anything!) and just keep the ball rolling in whatever direction it rolls. Understanding the process and creating strategies to battle it helps me experience the blues and strategically lift myself out of them. I’ve found that this process works and my creativity comes back stronger with every dip.