Why There’s Always A Creative Drought Before A Huge Breakthrough

Kelly Sikkema

If there’s one misconception about creativity that is truly greater than any other, it’s the idea that your “creative juices” can run dry. If you work in this type of field, you’ll surely be familiar with this fear: that you’ll run out of great ideas, feel stuck and unable to produce, get “blocked” and never be able to return.

This is, of course, one big myth. The truth is that creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the better you get at it. The more accustomed you become to generating ideas and products and concepts, the easier it will be to continue to create them — not the opposite way around.

However, where most people get confused is that just because you can create all of the time, does not mean you should. 

Do you know where our creative ideas come from? Our experiences. We use what we’ve seen, what we’ve learned, how we’ve changed and grown, and we compile those things into something tangible others can see and digest and feel. Creativity is a muscle, but you need to have something to pull.

That’s why there tends to be a creative drought right before a breakthrough. Sometimes, you need to rest. Sometimes, you need to process what you’ve seen. Sometimes, life happens. You aren’t designed to be a machine. You aren’t supposed to work tirelessly, and forever, without reprieve.

The truth is that when we have a big creative drought, it’s not because our skills are waning away. It’s because we need time to think and process and regroup, to go back out and have new experiences and figure out what they mean, to meet and fulfill other needs and desires within us, the very ones that will fuel our projects later on.

When you feel tired and drawn out, it means it’s time to rest. Not because you’re no longer capable of creating, but because if it is exhausting you and becoming difficult, it usually means your body and mind are trying to tell you that you need a break. And when you’re rested and recharged? Well, all of that inspiration is going to come flooding back. Like a muscle that has to rest after heavy lifting, you notice that when you finally return, things are easier, and lighter, and you’re better than you were before.

The longer that you resist needing a break, the worse your work is going to get. You cannot forget that your creative abilities are just one part of you. You’re a whole human being who is going to have other needs and priorities sometimes. Just because you have to tend to them once in a while doesn’t mean that you’ve given up on your dreams.

All it means is that you’ve been working hard, you’re getting better, but you need time to regenerate. Allow yourself this. You aren’t falling off the bandwagon, you’re getting ready to scale heights you’ve never seen. To do that, you need to be prepared. You need to trust in the timing. You need to honor your health and wellness and esteem. You aren’t meant to create at the expense of your wellbeing.

So when you find yourself in the middle of a dry patch, lean into it. Go out with friends. Sleep. Eat better. Go running or walking. Journal about something that has nothing to do with your work. Process old emotions and talk about past experiences. Go out and try something new. Book a trip. Do anything that gets you as mentally displaced from your work as possible — you need this. You’re being primed for a breakthrough. Trust it, lean into it, and allow it to come.

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