Refilling the Well and Reigniting Creativity

In an amazing mashup between Bird by Bird and The War of Art, my friend Jeff Goins wrote week before last about what to do when you’re feeling uninspired, and how important it is to recognize the difference between “blocked” and “empty.”

  • One may be a real case of the Resistance — your own laziness, outside distractions, or some other negative force keeping you from making a difference. If that’s the case, then you only have one choice: show up, do the work.

  • However, if you’re feeling empty, be careful. You could waste hours sitting in front of a computer screen or with a guitar on your lap. If this is the case, you may need to step away and go do something that fills you up — play with your kids, listen to music, go for a run. But don’t be fooled; Resistance is still waiting to snatch you up at the earliest possible moment.

Once you’re full again, get right back at it. Start creating and continue working through the Resistance.

What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired? And how do you tell the difference between feeling blocked and being empty?

I can’t help but be reminded of the two main practices put forth in The Artist’s Way: The Morning Pages and The Artist’s Dates. The former is more about sending signals (to yourself, ultimately) and the latter is about refilling the well, restocking the pond. (The Morning Pages do a lot to get the junk out of your system so you can focus on being creative the rest of the day.) The Artist Dates leave you feeling energized.

In my experience, the artist dates are best done as something silly or childishly fun. Go buy a grape NeHi, a comic book, and sit under a tree reading on a sunny afternoon. Or spend lunch break doing nothing on a hill overlooking a pond, just enjoying the sunshine and decompressing naturally. It’s all about reconnecting with that playful inner artist-child we all have.

It’s little wonder that the creatives at ad agencies tend to have little toys all around their desk. (I once had a coworker with quite a collection of Homies.)

It’s important to take the time to nourish your creativity.

How do you refill the well?


3 Comments. Add your own below.

  1. Love that you’re posting on this again! Thanks for the link love.


  2. Thanks, Jeff! It’s been a long time coming. Thanks for the encouragement. It looks like the focus is going to be on creativity itself rather than “productive creativity.” More on that later!


  3. […] Mysterious Flame blog, especially in this post about why artists should journal and this one about Refilling the Well and Reigniting Creativity, until I discovered the next book on this list, The War of […]


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