Creative Coping

It’s paradoxical, but all my best creative ideas come to me when I’m too stressed or busy to pursue them. I remember being so confused by this during my first exam period, but excited too: I kept a notebook open next to my work and jotted down ideas all through my study day. It was a way to cope with my inevitable boredom at the long, monotonous hours of library drudgery. Two years later, and I’m still “blessed” with a surge of creativity right around the most stressful part of my year.

I know that many people work best under pressure, staying up all night to get an essay finished or cramming for an exam. I can’t work like that, personally: the mere idea of it stresses me out so much that it’s motivation to just get to work right now! That’s not to say that I don’t suffer from my fair share of procrastination. But I would much, much prefer to start as early as I can – that way I can try to stay healthy, and be able to take some time off, when I need to, so I don’t get burned out. And no, I’m not always able to do this, and yes, sometimes I have to stay up later than I’d like to finish things I didn’t start on time.

Last night, my brain wasn’t having any of it. I hadn’t cared for my body properly – I’d been eating strange meals, hadn’t gone for a run because it was pouring rain all day, hadn’t slept almost at all the previous night (probably also due to stress) – and so it was rebelling. I couldn’t concentrate, I was tired, bored, unfocused.. My sweet mama urged me to take a break, citing the oh-so-wise maxim: “an hour-and-a-half of solid work is worth 3 of half-hearted”. Amen, mama. So I decided to stop trying to force it.

I’ve discussed stress baking before, it’s one of the easiest ways to get out my heebeejeebees from sitting at a computer all day, inject some sense of home and comfort into my days, and feel more like myself again. It wasn’t an option the other night, because I’d been burning the candle at both ends and hadn’t made time for grocery shopping. Ergo, I had no eggs. Or soy milk. Or anything, really. So baking was out.

But like I said, my creativity tends to bubble up at inopportune times. I’ve had a hundred ideas since I started putting my head down to study last week. (One of them is already taking baby steps to realization and I’m. so. excited!) Last night, though, I decided to make a mini book. Just a simple collection of pretty papers, pictures, and words. Somehow it came together, fairly coherently. I didn’t know what I was making, I just started and it sort of found its own direction. I drew a lot of inspiration from Elise’s minibooks, and decided to just collect things that make me happy, and paste them in, just for the fun of it.  I am thinking it of as my little love book, and I do love it (pictures below).

I realize 100% that this might not be anyone else’s idea of ideal creativity. I also believe that everyone could benefit from having some kind of creative outlet, especially during stressful times. Even if you do it only 10 minutes a day, doing something fun and creative could lift your spirits enough for another couple hours of hard work. Maybe you want to write, or compose music, or sketch, or throw paint at some paper, or make a fashion set on Polyvore, or choreograph a dance, or learn to knit on two pencils with some string (like I first did!). At the very least, keep a little notebook or Word document open nearby, to jot down all your inevitable, awesome ideas.

Happy exams! (It’s almost like Happy Hunger Games, right? Shudder.) Best of luck! May the odds be ever in your favour! xo.

8 thoughts on “Creative Coping”

  1. Once again, I am convinced that we are the same person. Literally, I am the same way. First of all, it stresses me out just to THINK about doing work at the last minute. I’ve never pulled an all-nighter, all through college and now into grad school. In fact, my last night of undergrad, my close friends and I were going to pull an all-nighter just to say that we had, but we were all too tired and we never did it. Second of all, I always get my best ideas when I don’t have the time to work on them. For that reason, I have a million little emails to myself and Word documents with ideas in them for me to remember later. ‘Course, a lot of the time, I look back on them and have no idea what I was talking about, what I meant, and or where I wanted to go with it.

    1. Ha! We seem very similar, which is awesome! I love that my blog has helped me befriend a whole bunch of like-minded people. I confess, too, that I’ve never pulled an all-nighter, knock on wood. And I’m all about the notes to myself!! But I primarily use Evernote, because I can access it on my phone and computer. Have you tried Evernote? You might really like it. :)

      1. I haven’t tried Evernote yet. But I keep hearing good things about it, so I might need to look into it. I haven’t used it because I don’t use my computer generally to take notes. I’m a traditional pen-and-paper kind of gal.

  2. You used ergo in a sentence. Ergo, you are cool. I do think there’s something about the brain on stress/excitement that makes it easier to form connections between seemingly unrelated things. In fact, just as I was waking up this morning I had a very interesting research idea to try out. However I’m busy with other stuff for the next month, so it’ll have to wait. But I’ve written it down and I’m looking forward to getting to it. I just wish there was a better, more reliable way to harnessing all this latent potential that the brain has.

    1. You appreciate the use of a good “ergo”. Ergo, you’re cool too! Haha (nerds). I totally agree that it would be great to be able to ‘harness the potential’ and get the ideas flowing when you actually have time for them. But I think that’s actually one of the great mysteries of the world – that inspiration comes when you least expect it. It’s kind of cool, actually. :)

    1. I LOVE the minibook format and it’s totally easy. Definitely check out Elise’s blog at the link in the post..she’s crazy good at them. :)

  3. Pingback: A week in the life. » Life In Limbo

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