7.14.2020

Here's Why a Much Needed Pause is Healthy for the Creative Conscience


Every time someone asks me, "Natalie, what do you want to do when you grow up?". Most times I would muster something along the lines of public relations, communications, content creation, but above all else—creative. A percentage of the time I might say something like an environmental conservation PR person, in hopes of one day escaping to the mountains, breathing fresh air, and doing social media for the National Park Service. In reality, I imagine myself working downtown Chicago, as my roots have brought me up here and it would be stupid not to. I mean Chicago is the epicenter of creativity. 

In all things I do, I find myself inspired. Less recently, though, it has been hard for me to find creative freedom in what has been a rather challenging and uncertain time period. Our world is going through a lot, and it was time for me to reflect on the things that mattered most. Whether I was comfortable with it or not. You see, creativity does not always come easy. There are many factors that play into these ground-breaking ideas. Great artists didn't just escape onto a yacht in the Mediterranean and say "Here is where I make art". Many of them suffered through current turmoils and strifes—pandemics, even. I'm no Bill Nye of the creative mind, but to put it in perspective; great ideas don't always come easy. When or how we want them to. 

. . .

Sometimes creativity comes from nothing (and I wholeheartedly sneer at those who can constantly come up with stuff), and other times it comes from your 8 a.m. iced chai tea latte and that's just your luck. After five years of writing, creating, and developing this blog, I am constantly in a struggle with my own creative agency. Many of my ideas were just sub-par articles of what Google could already tell you. What products you already knew you needed to buy, what ideas were already valid, that golden retrievers are cute, and so on. However, I took ahold of my creative agency, because I knew that my ideas would come if I was patient. I did not dig up some article ideas (although I will be held guilty for those late night Pinterest researches) and I was not happy with what I was writing until it just flowed right off my fingertips. 

Being confident with your own creative agency is like creating a dinosaur diorama in fifth grade. We were SO proud of them. The amount of hours spent on the basement floor, hot glueing, cutting cardboard, and making sure your little sister wouldn't play with your Little Tikes dinosaurs that were secured to little plastic ferns you found from your Thomas the Train set. You were ready to show everyone what you worked tirelessly on. Even though we knew that Samantha had the name brand crayons and sequins to win the ribbon and a round of free mini golf. That diorama has, to this day, sat in your basement game cupboard. You will never throw it out because you want your kids to bask in its glory. 

I might have gotten a little carried away with dioramas, and there may or may not be one sitting proudly in a closet, but the point is, being confident with your own creative agency comes with its rewards—even if you mess up, fail, or lose the ribbon to Samantha. There's a time and a place, and your time will come. 
I live and breathe creativity when it comes to public relations and advertising. Sometimes so much that I can't take it anymore. I need to read someone else's creative ideas, immerse myself on current news, watch commercials, get lost in a book, run outside rather than on my dad's old treadmill, or play somebody else's playlist for a change. Being creative sucks, I get it. Constantly trying to be inspired—to know what the right thing to say, create, draw, or compose is—can suck the living right out of your soul. With all of the late night scribbling in my head, I knew I needed to do one thing to solve my creative road block:

And it was nothing. 

In the creative world, everything is fast moving. One idea after the other, and they're not always great ideas. What I've learned is that it's okay to doubt your ideas, to doubt your abilities, and it's definitely okay to stop. There's a lot going on, in the universe and in our minds, and sometimes the best remedy for our creative consciences is to just...pause

A pause to reset. To realign and reflect has been helpful for me to focus on my 1) mental health, 2) accepting my creative flaws, 3) and to focus on being comfortable with the uncomfortable. In terms of having the time to pause and rationalize with my own inner dealings, but also the fact that these past few months have felt like a never ending social media binge and I knew I had to cut myself off for a bit for the sake of keeping me sane and grounded in the things I love the most. 

Here's a little update as to what I've been up to during this pause...

01. Reading. Reading, reading, reading. Articles, news, too much news, and books. My normal summer activity is to fill the last two hours of the day snuggled up reading. I read a lot and take in a lot of information, partly because of what is happening in our world, but also because I have come to realize that it's a pretty nice escape. 

Reading has been my most inspiring hobby and I kick myself for not getting into reading sooner. My town has these Little Free Libraries, or these little library mailboxes. Our library is closed, so I've been venturing out and finding random book selections all over. I just finished reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. It's a page turning thriller and the best book to read before bed...if you dare. 

02. Running. I've always hated running, but the stiff air inside has kept me long enough from running on the treadmill downstairs to creating short little routes around our neighborhood. I like the open air, sometimes running without destination, and just having space and a time to think. There's much solitude in running, so it has been a pleasant heart rate lifter and break from being inside all day. 

03. My creative internship with FCB Chicago just kicked off this week! I know it's not much of a pause, but it is a great start to something that will engage and spur my creativity throughout the rest of the summer. My first week of orientation felt somewhat like virtual summer camp. I also learned that FCB Chicago was the founder of orange juice, so the more you know! I am thrilled to continue this internship and learn from some driven industry professionals who work on some very distinguished clients like Coca-Cola, Levi's, and Canon. Although it is an advertising position, I will be able to listen and learn to creators and innovators alike. I'm very grateful to have this experience and get to meet some inspiring people in the process. 

. . .

I know having time to think can seem intimidating, even a few days of not creating or being productive can feel like I'm at a stand still and I'm left unmotivated. However, I've learned that taking necessary breaks—even when you don't expect them or think they're needed—can remedy a feeling of distrust with our own creative conscience. This world seems to go a little bit too fast. It can be all talk with not much space to listen and learn. Slow it down and trust yourself. Your ideas will be heard. 

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