September 21, 2021

Keep Going: How to Get Out of a Slump

Every now and again, I enter a ‘slump’.

Creatively, productively and motivationally, I simply cannot operate to a standard that I’m pleased with.

And that’s ok.

After all, to not ebb and flow would make me less human.

Understanding that this phenomenon exists, that it is normal and routinely expected, is something that has lifted the burden of expectations off my shoulders.

However, sometimes this slump approaches before its invitation, delays its departure or simply wraps me in a tighter grip than usual.

In those situations, it’s always useful to have a fallback plan, a counter-strategy to detach me from its toxic affinity.

Using the wonderful book ‘Keep Going’ by Austin Kleon, here are some ideas that have helped me, and may also help you, too:

  1. Forget the noun. Do the verb.
“If you wait for someone to give you a job title before you do the work, you might never get to do the work at all. You can’t wait around for someone to call you an artist before you make art. You’ll never make it. If and when you finally get to be the noun — when that coveted job title is bestowed upon you by others — don’t stop doing your verb. Job titles aren’t really for you, they’re for others. Let other people worry about them. Burn your business cards if you have to. Forget the nouns altogether. Do the verbs.” — Austin Kleon

2. Declutter your mind.

“I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down fifteen things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten.” — Mary Roach

3. Seek a new environment.

“Interacting with people who don’t share our perspective forces us to rethink our ideas, strengthen our ideas, or trade our ideas for better ones. When you’re only interacting with like-minded people all the time, there’s less and less opportunity to be changed. Everybody knows that feeling you get when you’re hanging out with people who love the same art, listen to the same music, and watch the same movies: It’s comforting at first, but it can also become incredibly boring and ultimately stifling.” — Austin Kleon

4. Create room for serendipity.

“But it’s not an accident that my studio is a mess. I love my mess. I intentionally cultivate my mess. Creativity is about connections, and connections are not made by siloing everything off into its own space. New ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place.” — Austin Kleon

Being in a slump is not a creative death sentence.

Most often, it’s completely reversible — usually with a simple passing of time.

So let yourself be slumped.

Take the time to recalibrate, rejuvenate or simply, do nothing.

After all, it might just be what you needed for a newer, brighter beginning.

To read more of my favourite quotes from ‘Keep Going’, click here.

Every week, I write about philosophy, self-fulfilment and creativity.
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