How to stay creative and keep generating new creative ideas?
Does it take creativity and talent, or is it an outcome of many more factors? 

In February, I taught at a CZT meetup in Munich. Organizing a live event that gathers several teachers and a much greater number of students must be really difficult. I’ve never organized anything like that, so I wouldn’t know, but even thinking about it feels overwhelming. Naturally, I had to come up with an idea for a project that I’d teach well in advance. And I remember that very well because I was at the seaside, trying to generate a final draft that I would present almost six months before going to Munich.

And let me admit – that one was really tough. It was the first big live event for me as a teacher, and all the students were certified Zentangle teachers as well. So, there was a certain amount of pressure that I felt. But it was not only that. It seems to me that creativity goes through periods of ebbs and flows. And I guess that the deadline coincided with an ebb.

Below you can see the collection of drawings, many just half-finished, that I drew after I already had at least a faint idea about what I wanted to present.

Generating Creative Ideas

Generating new creative ideas – how difficult is it?

I often think that I must be among the luckiest people, being blessed with my job. And I guess that many people would agree with me. However, I doubt that everyone can assume how much effort goes into preparing most classes.

Surely, sometimes ideas just emerge without any significant effort. Such periods are the periods of flow. I playfully explore and come up with projects that make me happy.

And then there are times of doubt, days when I wonder if there is anything that I have to offer to the world. I guess that feeling depleted, empty, and powerless is an integral part of every creator’s journey.


What to do to overcome the overwhelm?

That’s when Zentangle comes to the rescue.

Trust the process

This is one of the key components of the Zentangle philosophy. When heavy days come, I just remember our Zentangle lessons and what the drawing process often looks like. I might not see the outcome clearly or even think that I’m capable of finishing what I started. And it wasn’t always easy to deal with those feelings. However, now I know that it’s just a phase, and it will pass as long as I keep doing what it takes to break through. But, what is that?

Anything’s possible, one stroke at a time

The only thing that I can do is keep going. That surely doesn’t mean that I don’t take breaks. On the contrary – when I feel stuck, detaching myself from what I’m doing for a while might be the best thing to do. Enjoying nature, having a good sleep, or whatever relaxes me and charges my batteries is a great option. But ultimately I go back to my table and carry on. I just need one line, which leads to the next one… and you can guess what happens.


We all go through the same experiences

Creativity and talent are important, but so is perseverance and resilience. If you’re struggling with inspiration, know that it will pass, and as time goes by, it gets easier because you gain understanding and confidence.

It seems to me that it’s important to speak about this. Seeing all the gorgeous artworks online all the time might make us feel like everyone else is just turbo-charged with ideas. Well, I don’t think so. We all struggle from time to time, and no one’s batteries are inexhaustible. It’s comforting to keep in mind that we’re all the same. And that there is always a flow that follows after an ebb.

April, 2024

Written by Anica Gabrovec CZT

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