Dealing with creative frustration

Do you ever get so frustrated with yourself creatively? Here’s a fun story about the first time I encountered this and how the police nearly got involved:

I was at home, probably 13 or 14, and I was practising a piece of music on the flute. I loved playing the flute, but this piece of music… I just could NOT get right. 

I ended up getting so frustrated with myself that I hit my expensive flute against the music stand repeatedly, leaving three hefty dents.

In my flute lesson the next day, my teacher noticed the dents and asked what happened. So obviously, I lied.

“I left it in the music room at school and found it like this.” I said, pretty convincingly.

So convincingly in fact that my flute teacher immediately called and spoke to my music teacher who questioned me next time I saw him. He told me it was criminal damage and I could get the law involved if I wanted to.

I can’t remember what I said to him, but I lied my ass off and managed to avoid having to lie to the police. I then realised, perhaps, the flute wasn’t the instrument for me.

Since then, I’ve gotten (slightly) better at handling my creative frustration, but it still crops up from time to time – especially when I’m trying to take Instagram photos. Here are some photos that I felt just didn’t work.

They aren’t all terrible… just not ‘right’.

When styling goes wrong or I can’t get what’s in my head to work, I get pretty enraged with myself. But instead of throwing my phone out of the window, I’ve learnt to just breathe and move on.

How to deal with creative frustration

I posed the question of dealing with creative frustration on Instagram and spoke with Kate Wainwright (jewellery maker and blogger), here’s how she deals:

Photo by Kate

“When the creative juices aren’t flowing I take a time out and don’t push it, usually if I stop thinking about it and go for a walk, read a book etc. it gives my brain a rest, so when I come back to thinking about it I might be able to draw inspiration from what I did in my down time – or my subconscious has had a chance to mull over it for me! Something I find hinders my creativity is looking at what other people have done – i.e. Instagram photos.

Often if I get inspired that way I just end up feeling either like I’ve just copied or like I’m not up to standard!”

I also spoke to Molly Stroud (author) who had a great book recommendation:

“I’ve just been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s all about creative “recovery” and getting unblocked and keeping things flowing. Plus she gives you creative tasks each week and lots of tips for getting inspired. I highly recommend it!”

Photo by Molly

I actually already have this book on my Amazon wish list – so think I’ll be adding that to the basket!

Take-away tips:

Breathe. Before you do anything else, breathe. Put the flute/camera/laptop down and resist the urge to throw it against the nearest wall.

Step away. Change your environment and get away from your project, even if it’s just for a quick walk. Try taking your mind off it completely and do something else – listen to music, read a book or talk to a friend. 

Don’t compare. I’ve touched on comparison before, but it’s such an important point. When we compare our work to someone else’s we limit ourselves. 

Get inspired. Listen to an inspirational podcast, read an inspirational book, make a mood board on Pinterest. Get some creative input to help fuel your output.

Do you ever get frustrated creatively? Ever broken anything in a frustrated outburst?! (It’s not just me… right?)

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How to deal with creative frustration

2 thoughts on “Dealing with creative frustration

  1. Kate says:

    Aah I loved reading this Kat! That make me giggle about your flute incident! I’ve thrown a ring across the room in frustration before when it just wouldn’t solder how I wanted to and I ended up melting half of it, I damaged it even worse when I threw it! Half the problem was being hangry! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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