What do you do when creativity doesn’t seem to turn on? You go to the faucet, lift the handle, and. . .nothing. Not even a drip. The ideas, the inspiration, the drive have all just dried up. So you jimmy the handle. You tap the pipes. You make sure the lines are all turned on. You try every trick in the playbook. But nothing seems to work. What do you do then? What do you do when the creative water lines are clogged? Or busted? Or just not in service any more? What do you do?
You look for the water.
When the creative flow that you’re used to seems to dry up, it’s not the time to give in. It’s the time to seek out the water, which means looking beyond the pipes. Pipes aren’t the water; they are the conduit for the water. The pipes are the means you’ve built for drawing the water out: your skills, your methods, your little tricks that coax the creative flow into your daily life. We all have them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Pipes are great, even helpful, but pipes aren’t water.
Beyond our beautiful network of creative pipes lies the creative river that runs inside each of us. Every one of us carries a tributary of the grand river of creativity that flows from the Creator, God himself. Our rivers flow from the ultimate creative source, and they gush in a continual torrent of ideas and dreams. Our rivers are endless; they can’t stop flowing, even though our stopped up pipes would tell us otherwise. It’s these waters that our old pipes have been pulling from all this time, and it’s to these waters that we must return when the pipes run dry.
What does it mean to return to the waters? First, it means breaking out of the routines and methods that have stopped working. Instead of pressing, dogged, through a method that isn’t working, try a new way of coming at it. When we set the routines aside, we get a chance to see things in a new light. The journey to the river takes us into new scenery and different challenges. That could mean taking on a new medium or skill set. Perhaps it means pursuing new experiences to rekindle creative drive. New perspective is the key here: the old pipes made it easy to draw in the creative water, but they didn’t require us to explore beyond our comfortable little worlds. It’s the exploration that builds creative inspiration.
We’re not done when we reach the river, though. No way. It’s time to be brave and jump in the water. The pipe water was safe and measured, not too fast or too slow. The river runs fast and its depths are uncharted. It’s free, full, and brimming with mystery. All that gushing creativity can be scary when we’re used to the tempered speed of our old pipes, but the wild flow is just what sluggish creativity needs. Old ideas get washed away as the current sweeps us into new innovations with speeds we never thought possible.
Next time the waters stop flowing, we know where to go. Creativity is bigger and grander than any pipe network can contain, but only those willing to find the river will ever experience its full depths. Go to the waters; journey beyond the creative boundaries you’ve always known. Out beyond predictable convenience lies a world of wonder, a world of possibilities. Won’t you come explore?
Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!