Coping with Interruptions to your Creative Flow

Version 2

Boxed and Nailed

You’re happily doing some creating, painting, playing an instrument, writing or whatever your passion may be, when someone or something disruptive happens along that stops your flow.  How do you calm yourself and get back into that zone where you can freely create?

I was getting ready to do some drawing when a neighbor, who I had never met, rang the doorbell to complain about our dogs barking.  Admittedly they were being annoying but not as much as this person was suggesting.  Anyway I said that we would try to do something about the problem and he went away.  But I was irritated by the experience and found it hard to relax to do some drawing.

Dealing with interruptions is a reality of life for creative people and you just need to find a way to cope with these situations that works for you.  I find it best to do something completely different to calm myself.  After that complaint I went and played guitar in the garden and practiced some new songs.  Getting some sunshine really helps.  Other methods include taking the dog for a walk; doing some housework or the thing that you have been putting off; doing some physical exercise to get rid of angst or writing about the situation in a journal (or a blog).  Having a cup of tea or coffee is good and there is always chocolate.  In other words do whatever makes you feel better.

As there are more demands on our time these days any moments we can set aside for our creative work are precious.  To avoid being interrupted in the first place, try to minimize the likelihood of this occurring. You need to make sure that your relatives, housemates and friends respect your personal space.  Many people turn off the phone and tell others not to disturb them between certain hours.  A “do not knock” sticker on the front door should discourage salespeople but does not work for other types of callers (like grumpy neighbors).

Circumstances beyond your control can be disruptive and it is a good idea to find a way to adapt to the situation so that you do not lose inspiration.  I have had to put up with the extreme sound of demolition machines next door on my days off over the last couple of weeks and this has made it difficult to relax.  It was probably not the time to do something that required my undivided attention.  Instead I undertook less demanding tasks that did not depend upon intense concentration, like sorting out my photo library, research on the Internet and other activities that would trigger my imagination.

If you are prevented from doing your usual creative pursuits for a lengthy period try to find some other outlet until things return to normal.  During a house renovation several years ago I was sleeping in a caravan at the rear of the property and did not have enough space for any major artwork. I did small collages and drawings in a visual diary, played guitar and wrote some songs. It got me through the stress and noise and I made the most of the experience.  It was actually a very productive time.

Don’t let negative situations and interruptions get you down.  Turn them into a positive and let them feed your creativity.  You might come up with your best work.