Ah the familiar siren song of the Guilt Pit. If you’ve never heard it yourself, let me tell you: it sounds exactly how I imagine Netflix would if it had a voice.
The Guilt Pit is where we Creatives stumble when we hit a wall. It’s that slippery slope that begins with indulging our guilty pleasures (say, watching back-to-back LOST episodes until 3am), and inevitably gives way to an internal guilt-trip over the things we should be doing instead (say, updating our website). Often when we burn out and can’t create, we consume instead.
It happens. You sit down to write, or paint, or build as usual – and you come up blank. So you decide to take a well-deserved break and hit up your latest TV addiction. Just until inspiration returns. You sieve through your favourite blogs. You read a book or two. You feed your appetite for art by consuming it rather than creating it.
Now don’t get me wrong: consumption is an important part of the creative cycle. It inspires us, keeps us in touch with our peers and the world around us.
The problem begins when you get greedy. Over-consumption saturates your burnt-out brain and you can’t re-ignite that creative spark (fire metaphor, yo). When you’re someone who needs to create, this is frustrating at best – at worst it is devastating.
This is the Guilt Pit.
So how do we climb on out of it?
Dig UP, stupid!
Stop soaking your poor little head with other people’s art and give that wick of creativity a little time to air out (sorrynotsorry). Log out of Netflix. And Facebook. And Reddit, and Instagram, and Pinterest, and YouTube, and whatever other time-vaccums the kids are into these days.
In short, cut yourself off from passive consumption cold-turkey – after a stretch in the Pit your brain needs to get use to thinking for itself again. Help it along by actively engaging with the world. Go for an aimless stroll (without your iPod). Grab a coffee with an artsy friend. People-watch. Start a photo journal. Cut up your old magazines and build a trippy collage. Create something small; a daisy chain or a little paper crane. All it takes is for one tiny spark of inspiration to catch – and you’ll soon be lighting your way out of The Guilt Pit.
Featured image: Astrid Berges-Frisbey by Nicole Bentley, Marie Claire Australia