How to Recapture Your Enthusiasm When Today’s Creative Work Isn’t a Treat

by | Creating | 7 comments

“If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.” — Mary Kay Ash

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

You trudge to your office or studio or nook and dread the next task in your creative work. Not a business-side task, but the actual creative work. The “fun stuff.” You wonder how today your work seems like a job instead of the usual treat. Maybe you could clean the toilets today, instead. Ever feel like this?

Try the following exercise and see if your outlook changes.

Step 1

Identify what is making you unenthusiastic about your work. Ask:

Why am I in this funk, anyway?

  • I’m not taking care of myself. I feel tired.
  • I’m so stressed there’s no way a new idea will surface.
  • I feel lousy about the argument I entered into last night.feet beach
  • I really wanted to go to the beach with the girls.

You must solve these kinds of problems yourself, but agree to do one thing to help alleviate your problem.

For me, prayer about my attitude helps. A lot.

Now do what you agreed to do. There, you’ve done something positive.

Step 2

You may have noticed in many of my posts I recommend using your imagination. We’re creative people, after all, so why shouldn’t we use our gift.

Image courtesy of Pong at

Image courtesy of Pong at

Now, simply think of a non-creative task you need to do that you don’t want to do. One that would take no more than thirty minutes but is no fun at all.

A telephone call to try to correct an error on a bill would be one of mine.

Step 3

Next, recall an instance when you looked forward to working on the next scene, your painting, whatever, and you had an awesome creative session.

I picture the time I thought a scene I finished was so good I actually clapped my hands.

Step 4

Transfer that imagery forward to what your creative work WILL be like today. Retain the images of today’s session turning out like that past great experience and go do the distasteful, non-creative task from Step 2. And while you’re doing it, keep visualizing the wonderful experience you WILL have on your creative task when you’re done.

CB065332While I’m on hold waiting for the next available representative, I can picture myself clapping with joy after I complete today’s scene. I could tell the rep, as soon as my bill is fixed, I will write an amazing scene for my novel. 

Step 5

If you feel better about your creative work, go enjoy a great experience.

If you still feel the dread, here comes the tough love. You must avoid developing a habit of staying away from your creative work. So trudge to your creative workspace and do one small task that moves it forward, and then another.

If nothing else, you’ll have moved your work forward a little that day and the no-fun job you completed won’t be hanging over your head tomorrow.

What image of an awesome past experience can you reserve for the day a creative task seems like a job instead of a treat?

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  1. Erin Unger

    This came at such a great time. I was just going through this very thing. Thanks for the advice.

  2. Zoe M. McCarthy

    I hope you have a wonderful creative day, Erin.

  3. Jane Foard Thompson

    You hit the nail on this one, Zoe. I have that struggle just about every day. I hate to make phone calls, and would rather sit at my computer than go to the store, any day. But food must be bought and calls must be made. Getting a small dreaded task out of the way does help, especially when I get an unexpectedly positive outcome. If nothing else, I remind myself that neither the phone nor the grocery store can due injury to me . . .
    but I’d rather be writing!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Like you, Jane, I can always write better when the joyless task isn’t hanging over my head. Thanks for the reblog, Jane.

  4. Carole Brown

    Great post. My stomach is in cramps today working on items I do not want to do. But I’ve decided to take them one at a time. A person can only do so much! I’ll take occasional breaks to go outside and breathe, I’ll handle little chores that are quick but give me a semblance of change. And I’ll thank God I still have “items” to deal with! 🙂

  5. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Carole, what a great attitude. Nothing is better than being thankful on those hard days and sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do. I pray God blesses you, and you breeze through the tough items.

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