The hunt for my missing mojo: Tips and tricks to bring your creativity back
by Jacqueline Smyth
Pic by Ali Kaukas

Creativity. Even sitting here now, I don’t really know how to feel about it. The act of transforming energy from just a single thought to something real and tangible, to something that has never existed before. One would think that both me and anyone in their right mind should be ecstatically in love with creativity. Sure, it’s super easy when you’re in a creative flow, hitting bulls eyes with every move, just doing your very own Saturday Night Fever saunter down the road to innovative success. Of course in love, duh.

But what if one day you wake up and you realize your creativity isn’t there?

Maybe it just recently left you, maybe it’s been gone for who knows how long and you’re just picking up on it now, but it is not in any way, shape, or form there for you to use. No spark of imagination, no interest in doing anything that could spawn something beautiful, and definitely not fueled by inspiration in anything you do. Scary, right?

And if that doesn’t sound scary to you… Other side effects may include:

  • Not feeling like getting out of bed
  • The inability to dress yourself and/or brush your hair
  • Comparing yourself to anyone and everyone (primarily on Instagram aka the worst place to compare yourself to anyone or anything… ever)
  • Mood swings and lashing out on friends, family, whoever you can, because you’re not using your powers that are reserved for good on anything remotely close to good
  • Not a chance you’re going to want anything to do with your dreams. Yeah, even your favorite, most beautiful, most dreamy of all of your dreams

All of those things(and a heap of others) can most definitely occur, and they did occur… To me.

Oh, hey there friend, my name is Jackie and I’m the founder of this website that you’re reading. And shortly after launching it, that’s right, I lost my very own creative mojo. I lost my ability or interest in putting my pen to paper, I lost my interest to do anything remotely inspiring, and as a consequence, I started to fake it. And when I could see I was faking it, I faked it for a bit more(as we’re conditioned to do), until working at it became actually painful. Yes, painful. Because the work that once made me feel so alive? Well, it just felt like nothing. The only thing I can really compare it to is when you’ve stayed in a relationship far too long, and one day you look up and you’re just going through the motions. No feelings, no draw, no connection. And once you catch on to that fact… anyone who’s been there will instantly know what I mean. Painful. 

So the question was posed: How do I wake myself up from a not so peaceful slumber of disconnection?

Here’s the deal… We all want to do the work. And especially us- the creatives, the dreamers, and the believers- we want to do our best work. The truth is, in this day and age where everything is a click away and  equally accessible, our work is ready for judgement at a moment’s notice and instantly disposable all at the same time. This gnarly concoction can result a lot of things- doubt, fear, confusion, insecurity… But let’s just blanket it, shall we?

It’s SCARY.

Creative juices? Gone.

When you’re on display for anybody that happens to look your way, it’s easy to get spooked. It’s easy to hide. It’s easy to get locked up.

Let’s do a little experiment, shall we? First tighten your chest. Now flex your biceps. Now your triceps. Flex your pecs…

(I hope your’e actually playing along, just humor me please)

…Flex your abs… actually just go ahead and flex your whole upper body. Clench your jaw too.

Now try and take a deep breath. A full, smooth satisfyingly deep breath.

Can you do it?

I can actually argue this one for you. Nope. Not a chance in the world.

Smooth? Deep? Satisfying?

No way.

And mentally tensing? That’s the same exact thing and it can hold the same exact creative results.

There’s a lot of weight put on actually sitting down and putting pen to paper, and of course there’s a lot of different processes to be had. However, I’m from a different school of thought. My whole life is built upon the theory that I want to be inspired. Think inspired, write inspired, do inspired, and above all… live inspired. So what happens when your very own sought after truth becomes the bain of your existence?

Well… You’ve gotta go after it, obvi.

At first, I didn’t really notice that it had gone MIA. And maybe it was more of a which came first, the chicken or the egg situation. Maybe it had left, maybe I turned it off and thought ‘Hey, when I’m ready it’ll just be there’. And when I looked? Not a cup of creative juice in sight. So I tried a variety of different techniques on my hunt.

Hide and Seek? Tried it. Hot and cold? Been there. Grit my teeth and dig my heels in? Wouldn’t be into it if it did work, thank goodness it didn’t.

Smooth:

Free flowing. Done with ease.

Deep:

Taken right from the well. No shallow water allowed.

Satisfying:

Do I really need to explain? At the end of an article, class, shift, adventure… anything you spend any amount of time on, don’t you want stand back and be in love with what you’re doing?

I do.

So I set out on a quest to turn the bain of my existence back into the love of my life. Here, in appropriate order of which the Universe provided them to me, are the the steps I took to find my missing mojo.

(Writer tested. Sister approved.)

Pause.

This one might be the hardest one. Chances are that when you notice your creative well is dry the first thing you’ll want to do is panic. Search. Call. Do something about it. We get convinced there is always something you can do, and the truth is, it’s not always that way. Sit. Listen. Let yourself pause.

I’d like to believe, and have the choice to accept that if I am working, it’s because I’m inclined to do so. Inspired to do so. Don’t misunderstand, not in the ‘I won’t show up for my shift kind because I don’t wanna’ way, I’m not a fairy, we all have shit to do and bills to pay. I’m talking about the behind the scenes, spark of magic evoking,  being drawn to and caring about shit kind of way. Totally different.

Pause. You’ll wake back up soon… And even the acknowledgement of that fact alone should shift your perspective at least a little bit.

Clear your Space.

Do yourself a favor. Clean. Whether it’s just a run of the mill laundry and dishes experience, more of a deep clean ‘I haven’t done this all winter’ clean, or even going through your drawers and getting rid of things you don’t use, don’t wear, don’t need. Clutter and mess take space and they also take energy. This step was absolutely stumbled upon, maybe moreso than any of the others and I don’t even know the moment it took hold, but I do remember in the midst of reorganising, throwing away, scrubbing (oh yeah, mama went hard), I looked up and just felt good. It felt good to cleanse, it felt good to shed. And after it was all over and I sat in my sparkly home, ideas just flowed in. I’m not kidding. It was almost as if everything else was weighing down my ability to be clear. To think clearly… and once it was removed my imagination and my mindset had the space to roam once again.

*This also applies heavily to the people around you. If any single person/negative energy/emotional vampire just popped up in your mind… It’s probably a sign that you know they are taking up your energy. You only have a limited amount. Don’t spend it with the people who drain you. Both you and your work are far too important.

Get back to the Why.

For awhile I didn’t even know how to ask myself this question. Why was I so disinterested? Well, that’s not totally true, I asked myself that question all the time. But I was focusing on the wrong part. What I should’ve been asking was what did I love about writing in the first place? What about it had unlocked my creative vault?

When I started to ask myself the right questions that led me back to what inspired me in the first place I got a whole new perspective on why I felt the way I felt.

So, a little backstory, Traveling Mats was my own personal blog before I had redesigned it and brought on a bunch of lovely yoginis to further the cause. It was a little blog, a free on wordpress blog that I had made myself. It was a bit of a different kind of blog, and it was my story. I wrote about my travels, I wrote about my bucket list experiences, and I wrote about how yoga connected it all. So. Needless to say when I sat back and asked, I realized that I had taken myself out of the whole process. I had created a managerial position for myself,  I wasn’t pursuing the things that lit me up in the first place and replaced it with a position that I really suck at… If we’re being honest. But like everything in life, it’s a work in progress. You live, you succeed, you fail, you try again, it goes well, you trip, you get back up.

But awareness of where you’re at in that process is crucial to getting to the next step. Finding a mental through line is an easy way to find out how to once again connect the dots and get to the other side. After all, you’ve gotta know you’re down before you can get back up.

Give Yourself Space.

This is a big one. Allow yourself to create just for the sake of creating. Not for other people’s reaction, not for likes or follows. Just to create. The internet shouldn’t be a free for all when it comes to works of your soul.

Let it be private. Let it be yours. There is power in that.

And if you’re so inclined? Cool. Share it.

Find Community.

Sometimes you find yourself a wreck and need others to pull you out. Sometimes you actively look, but even if you don’t, the Universe will, without a doubt, put things in your path to shock you out of your ‘aloneness’. My week on the lookout started with a heart to heart with my best friend. You know, the messy, sobbing, ‘why me’s and the ‘what’s wrong with us’ and ‘what if we’re mentally depleted “like forever”s, even the ‘I don’t think we can operate as real humans anymore’ made it in there. Yeah it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. You’ve gotta drudge up some dirt. I guess once my house was clean, my soul was looking for a scrub down too.

The week in point closed with an adventure to a Women’s circle. I’d never been to a women’s circle and I don’t even know how to fully explain what happened. Two things come to mind.

Nothing happened.

Everything happened.

A group of women spoke in a circle. We passed a talking stick and talked about fears. Talked about hopes. Talked about ourselves in the way you’re too scared to do with your friends or your lover or your family. And as the stick was passed and one woman became vulnerable, it gave the next woman in line permission to open up even more freely. And by the end? Total magic.

Now both of these examples are totally different. Getting negative with your best friend and opening up with a group of strangers… totally different. But in my experience, they worked hand in hand. Now it’s not something you can necessarily recreate, but take whatever opportunity comes across your path to find likeminded people. Bare your soul. There are other souls that need your words and your perspective just as much as you’ll need to hear theirs.

And if you just can’t catch an opening anywhere? Watch a Ted Talk. Look up quotes. Read a book (Brené Brown, Liz Gilbert, Gabby Bernstein)… What I’m saying is be curious until just one thing peaks your inspiration. Follow that lead. Take that clue, hint, star… whatever, and run with it.

Short Bursts.

Carry a small notebook with you. When lightening strikes you’ve gotta record it. You may think it’s dumb, you may think you’ll remember it later. You’re wrong. I can tell you that this is 100% legit because when this step was found I hadn’t sat down and written for a year. Yep. A whole year. As much as that shames me, I need to tell you that to explain that in these steps, I was really on the search. Really gave myself the time to find the want again, listened to the signals, followed my interests and curiosities, and they led me to my kitchen sink. Glamorous, huh? It’s not totally what it sounds like, but per usual, I was doing the dishes from the day and dinner and whatnot, elbows deep in soap suds and sponges when I had a simple thought.

“Hmmm. I remember when I used to carry a notebook and immediately wrote down any idea that sparked for me. That always really helped.”

And then my mind did this.

“Ooh, that’s a good one. I’ll write it down after I’m done here.”

My face in that moment made a series of emoji like reactions.

I stopped. I pulled my hands out of the sink. I dried myself off. And my search for my creativity instantaneously turned into a search for my notebook.

That single thought turned into 7 pages. I wrote and wrote, too unsure that if was to stop writing, the urge to do so would leave again. Too defiant against my own complacency, I wrote for 2 full hours. That single thought turned into this article.

That single thought turned into my creative valve being turned back on.

Gotcha.

Was everything before really scary?

Absolutely.

Did I think there was a big chance I’d never want to write again?

Of course.

Once I found my footing, was I still scared?

Not in the least.

When you do what you love from your soul and speak your own truth? There will be nothing scary about it.

I don’t know if it will stay. I’d love to believe that it’s here and I won’t have to worry about it again. Maybe. Maybe not. What I do know is that while it’s here I’ll treat it with the respect it deserves. Through all of this I got to see how much I value my creativity, and at the end of the day just valuing something enough to fight for it is worth all the ups, downs, and everything that falls between.

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Comments: 4

Jacqueline Smyth

Proud mama. Destination Coach and Yoga Teacher. Writer. Traveler. Story Collector. Believer.
  1. Marielle Ebersol says:

    So so beautiful Jackie. So honest and brave and lovely. So much love to you for putting this out there and helping others that find themselves stuck. Thank you.

  2. Tiare says:

    Oh I just love you and miss you blog posts jackie😘 How inspiring to read something that we all probably go through time to time. Myself included.

    Thanks for being absolutely raw and amazing

  3. Riah says:

    Beautiful post, thank you. I definitely know how it feels when it seems you’ve lost inspiration…

    ❀Riah
    http://www.TheWanderfulSoul.com

  4. Kori says:

    This has been a massive influence. It’s midnight and j just said, you can write your inspirational thoughts down tomorrow. But no. I really can’t. I adore you and your teachings. Thank you

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