What to Do When Your Creative Juices Run Dry

It’s been wet, wet, wet here on the west coast! I’m talking about non-stop rain the whole day yesterday, from morning till noon till night. School closures all around the Bay Area, which is something I have never witnessed (or ever had the pleasure of partaking in when I was a kid!). Lots of big puddles that the munchkins had a blast jumping and sloshing around in yesterday when we ventured out for lunch. And about 2-5 inches of total rainfall, depending on where you live. It was not exactly the #stormageddon or #stormpocalypse that the weather channels had been predicting, but there was a whole lotta water pouring down from the skies.

Yes, we Californians have a sense of humor.

Yes, we Californians have a sense of humor.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if our creative juices could flow just as freely and heavily as rain? That ideas – and not just ideas, but brilliant ideas – would pop into our heads as soon as we picked up a paintbrush, placed our fingers on an instrument, sat down in front of a keyboard, took a look into the refrigerator or peered into a microscope? Wouldn’t it be great if those brilliant ideas would then turn into a beautiful painting, a moving song, a breathtaking story, a scrumptious meal or a cool scientific discovery?

It wouldn’t be great, it would be awesome.

Like water, creative juices have a tendency to ebb and flow. Sometimes creativity comes like a downpour, other times like a trickle. Every once in a while, however, our creative juices just run dry. I’m talking about cracked, sun-scorched, no-liquid-in-sight kind of dry. Something like this picture here:

Image courtesy of numanzaa/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of numanzaa/freedigitalphotos.net

When I saw this image, the first thing that popped into my head was, Was that tree photoshopped in? How could any living thing grow out of and survive in such dry earth?

Thanks to the power of Google, I found out the impossible can be possible. According to this article from USA Today, plants that live in the Sahara (the world’s largest hot desert) do so thanks to their extensive root systems. Their roots have the ability to suck water up from deep under the ground, to as far as 150 feet below the dry surface. Talk about ingenuity! (God thinks of everything. :D)

This got me thinking that plants in the Sahara know a thing or two about thriving. Since water won’t come to them, they find a way to get to the water.

So how does this apply to us as people? Well, when our creative juices run dry, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike us, we need to go out and search for it.

The best sources of inspiration that I’ve found are other people. People who are creative in the areas that you excel in and enjoy, as well as people who are creatively different from you. Because when it all comes down to it, creativity comes from a need to explore and invent. If you look around, you’ll find countless people in your life who have that same need. Allow their work and enthusiasm to tug at your heart, tickle your creative bone and move you to tears or laughter, so you want to start dreaming again.

Although it’s been raining in California, I’ve been experiencing a creative drought (aka. writer’s block). This dry spell had me feeling constipated (artistically speaking!) and shriveled up like a prune for days. But thanks to a good conversation with a creative friend and some episodes of The Voice, I got inspired again to write. And I’m happy to announce I’m working on my second novella and am finally making good progress on it. God willing, I’ll be publishing it during the spring of 2015.

Here’s one song that tugged at my creative heartstrings recently. I love the different take that Damien (one of The Voice contestants) puts on Paula Cole’s song, “I Don’t Want to Wait”. (Any fellow Dawson’s Creek fans out there? :P)

Who inspires you in your creative quests? Do share, so we can be inspired together!

Let the Young’uns Inspire You

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/freedigitalphotos.net

I ran my first 5k this past January. I’m not exactly a sporty girl (because being active = perspiring = getting messy), but I signed up for this run willingly and without regret. What in the world inspired me to do so? Two words: my sister.

About a year ago my family and I stood at the finish line of the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon waiting for my sister to cross over. Around us stood hundreds of people cheering loudly and waving their banners as the runners passed by. It was definitely one of those “you can feel the excitement in the air” moments. Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush I felt that day or the pride I had in seeing my sister accomplish something so great, but something made me want to experience it, too.

Which is why I decided to wake up before the sun on a cold winter morning to run 3.10686 miles. (I would later find out that waking up early would be the easy part.) Thankfully my sister agreed to run with me because I would not have made it without her! She kept me distracted with good conversation from start to finish, especially during the final mile as I huffed and puffed up and down a couple of hills (good thing I hadn’t known about the hills when I signed up!). When we crossed the finish line, I wore a smile of relief on my lips and sweat plastered hair across my forehead. I’m sure my cheeks were bright red, too. My sister, on the other hand, looked like she had just taken a stroll in the park. She breathed normally and had a nice rosy glow about her. Our parents who had come to meet us after the race congratulated us and our mom took in both of our appearances. She then turned to me and said in a matter of fact tone, “Ten years do make a difference.”

Thanks, Mom! LOL 😉

Let me bring up an important fact – my sister is ten years younger than me. One whole decade. She has ten years less of wear and tear on her body. She has a lot more energy and stamina than I have had in a long time (especially since kids entered the picture). She was able to run a half marathon without passing out and just ran a 10k the other week, so a 5k was no big deal for her. Her knees are likely a lot stronger than mine.

What ten years has done for me is given me more life experience and maybe a little bit of wisdom, but it’s added some weariness and disillusionment as well. For some reason, as we age, things tend to become more complicated. I can’t just get up and go anywhere, anytime that I want to. I have a lot more responsibilities and have to narrow down my goals. There is a limit to how I can spend my time, energy and resources. And my joints have started to make a lot of cracking noises.

Which is why I needed my baby sister to inspire me to run.

I’ve discovered that it’s good to hang out with young people. People in their teens and even twenties view life with more hope, fervor and possibilities. They tend to be more optimistic, more carefree and more adventurous. They (the proverbial they again) say we should learn from our elders (which we should), but I say there is a lot to be learned from the youthful, too. May we oldies be inspired to consider dreaming again. May we throw caution to the wind and take chances, at least once in a while. May we get our bottoms off the couch and start moving, even at the risk of throwing out our backs.

And may the young’uns out there take this to heart:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Here is FUN’s song, “We are Young“, which talks about being young and setting the world on fire.

What have the young people in your life inspired you to do?