How To Regain Creativity

November 27, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about inspiration and creativity and how to regain it. I’ve thought about the importance of refueling and recharging so we have something left to give. Not only to ourselves but to others. Especially to others. I’ve also been thinking about how we typically go about it. We surf the internet, pin on Pinterest, buy stuff, zone out on fluff television. But are those things really going to help or add any value to our life? Hmmm. What do you think?

How To Regain Creativity

Growing up in the south, I heard lots of advice from friends, family and neighbors over the years. I remember being told often as a child, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back”. This is not just a biblical teaching but also happens to be a common belief in Buddhism and many other cultures have shared similar advice. No matter how religion seems to divide people these days, such very basic teachings often unite and are handed down from generation to generation. They hold so much truth and weight. I was thinking about this the other day, the idea of giving, because I haven’t felt that inspired in a few months. I had a really hard pregnancy the first 18-20 weeks which left me bed-ridden and sick all summer. It’s hard to feel anything when your body isn’t responding to food, a good film, a sunny day… I felt nailed to the bed. This really hurt my creativity. The world seemed to be passing me by as I stared at the bedroom ceiling and in a way, it was.

Which gets back to the thought on practicing a giving spirit. I’m currently teaching my online class about blogging, styling and photography, which began on November 1st. We have hundreds of students and a very vibrant, lovely classroom filled with eager students who work hard and want to blog their best. They want to inspire themselves and others just as much as the next blogger. I wondered, when I started teaching at the beginning of the month if I was biting off more than I could chew. I have so much going on in my life, I was feeling rather selfish. Like I just wanted to conserve my energy and withdraw and not bother teaching until next Spring. As emails kept rolling in asking me, “When is your next class, I’ve been waiting for you to announce the dates”, and “Holly you have to teach again, I need my Holly fix!”, my first thought was to take care of ME first and postpone until after the baby arrives. I didn’t want to give. I wanted to save my energy and even go out and find friends and family members who could give me some of their energy and encouragement.

But I didn’t.

I thought about each email that came in and though I felt exhausted, I pushed myself to just do it. You may say, “Of course you did it, you earn a living this way”, but honestly, that’s not entirely the motivation. I teach a few classes a year and can schedule them anytime I want. So whether I did this class in November or April wouldn’t matter financially. It’s the same money. What mattered was my intention.

I intended to stop feeling sorry for myself and to go teach.

That’s where the giving and receiving took place. This Friday ends the class and I feel like a completely different person than I did this time last month. My personality is back, my energy is back and I am ready to take on the world. I want to learn more about Photoshop, Lightroom and photography in general thanks to my students and co-teachers. They all became like medicine to me. They didn’t realize it, but by encouraging them by hosting the class and motivating myself to give, they in turn encouraged me and my cup became full once again. Reading through their comments in the forum, interacting with them through the materials, etc. put aside my feeling of being so self-absorbed and turned my direction to others. Giving. Receiving.

I know that lots of people suffer during periods when no creativity or joy seems to be found. Let me reassure you that there is hope during times when you have hit a creative rut and feel there’s nothing left in your heart to give.

Give what little you have. Give anyway.

Because what you give may seem so small to you but to the next person, it can be so great. And through this interaction alone, things change. Clouds part. Sunshine and light stream back in and before you know it, you are glowing, radiant.

And then you can decorate, work better than ever, whip up a beautiful meal, arrange a stunning bouquet and enjoy your life, your home, your job, your kids all over again. The veil lifts.

So when you feel like giving up, don’t.

Instead of giving up, just give.

Find someone who needs you and give.

How have you dealt with periods when you felt like your creativity was at an all time low? I’d love to know your tips!

(image: holly becker)


  • Reply Ilaria November 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    You gave me a lot to think about.
    I like you saying don’t give up, just give.
    Thanks for sharing this thought.


  • Reply Jessica November 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    What an amazing moment to post this blog! I have had quite a few moments in my life so far where it all just stopped. Also like now, i had my babyboy 4,5 months ago and lots of stuff has been going on this year. It hasn’t been boring! But my energylevels are LOW. It made me mad when that started. I am a very creative person, love to write, love to blog, love to make pictures, love to decorate. And so it made me mad, angry. I didn’t feel like myself. And I did exactly like you said: give. Keep on giving. I also went out again, with friends, to the gym and took time for me. Plus I gave in at certain moments. Just dropped everything. Took my distance. Which made me pick it up again a few days later. Thanks Holly for sharing this. Means a lot. Your post could not have come on a better moment!

  • Reply Suus Slee November 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Love thisblogpost. Good advice that you sometimes need to hear from others. Don’t give up!

    Suus from Food Bandits

  • Reply Laila November 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Hello Holly and thank you. Some weeks it feels like such a struggle to keep being creative. I’m having an off week or two with jewellery sales being rather slow which at this time of year is a bit of a blow. Being self employed can be tough at times and family life needs effort too. It is nice to know we’re not alone in the tough weeks! So glad your students and friends have re-charged the batteries! Take care x

  • Reply sanne November 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Holly, that was great to read, thank you. I am a student in the current byw course and I just felt at a very very low when the mail came in and you announced that seminar- I immediately signed up (I had missed the last one), and felt sooo happy. This really gave me a boost and the whole 3 weeks did, even though I didn’t have much time to participate since I just moved country and house and all is new and unsettling and at times extraordinary stressful. You and your co- teachers, podcasts, screencasts, photographs and honesty brought me back to my own truth. I am very grateful for that.
    What helps me tremendously as well when I am low is to meditate daily – I love guided meditation with Deepak Chopra or Andi Puddicombe (headspace.com). Try it out if you like. I wish you all the very best for the last weeks in your pregnancy and the great opportunity to create a “new” home. The very first moments ( and almost all the ones to follow) with your newborn are worth the time in bed in the summer and all the
    sickness etc. :-)

  • Reply Allyson November 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Holly. Sometimes, we all do go through periods of frustration, doubt or a creativity roadblock. When I find myself in that situation or have feelings of “what am I doing here” I take a step back, wallow in the moment for a bit and then seek out inspiration from others like you. I also revert to the things that make me happy; loading up on tons of shelter magazines, feeling the weight and beauty of a fabulous fabric in my hands, browsing through my favourite shops. All, without any intention but to enjoy. When we release ourselves from the pressure of being creative, the creativity comes on its own. And, yes, sharing whatever we can with others, can buoy us up and push us forward. Giving just to give can be the best motivation of all.

  • Reply Jim Riffe November 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    What an excellent message to spread and so timely too, with the Holidays upon us. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Jenn Coyle November 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    This is such an inspiring post, Holly. I really appreciate your honesty and willingness to share the details of the slump times that we’ve all gone through but aren’t as willing to examine. I admire your strength and your willingness to give in order to feel fulfilled. Take care!

  • Reply April November 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    My creative outlet is actually volunteering with the local children’s hospital play room, where we do crafts and play games. This year I suffered two miscarriages, one in January, and the other in September. After the first one, I took a few weeks off from volunteering/crafting, took care of myself, and went back at it. But after the second one I realized I had nothing left to give. I had to take a break. I had to just sit and be still and focus on everything that had happened. I realize now after months of not giving that I’m missing something and am looking forward to getting back to it in the new year. All this to say – I gave up. But realized I didn’t like it so much. Am looking forward to giving again. Thanks for this post.

  • Reply Adrienne November 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been feeling very uncreative and frankly totally exhausted after having my second boy 4 months ago. I think you are so right that inspiration and energy can be found outside the internet etc. and in people and doing. Such a good reminder.

  • Reply Sarah November 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Well, I have been in a rut for awhile…when my personal life took a turn for the worst, my creative juices dried up. What you’re talking about is a little like ‘The Secret’ – sending out positive energy in to the universe will send it right back to you twofold. I have taken a class on how to start an online shop and got back into Pinterest and have been looking at inspirational pix. I still don’t have my mojo back so I’m hoping the new year will help turn over the proverbial new leaf.

  • Reply Hannah November 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    “Instead of giving up, just give.” – I love this. Sometimes my career transition from a non-creative field into being a textile designer feels very solitary and frustrating. When the blues hit, it really helps me to step out and experience some wonderful art in museums or even on the street, or to connect with people whom I often find actually need me more. Blogging too is another way of giving by sharing what I know. Thanks so much for posting this!

  • Reply Sarah November 27, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Hey Holly,

    I am at a loss for words. Being chronically ill, your BYW class has help me so much. I am glad the class could help you thought your hard time!! When my health is not in great shape, it is always better to just do, and not listen to that voice in my head telling me all the reason not to.

    Thanks for inspiring all your readers!!

  • Reply melissa Condotta November 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Holly, who knew you had been feeling like this. Your spirit in this BYW class has been incredible. Thank you for choosing to move forward with the course, cause I know all of us students are enjoying it immensely, and gaining so much perspective and inspiration.
    It’s always good though, to take some time out for yourself. Especially when you’re preggos and in the middle of a reno and move.

    So just a quick thanks for all you give to the blogging community, and Happy Thanksgiving to you, your hubby and the little peanut in your tummy.

  • Reply Kaffiknopf November 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Uff, these thoughts got me today. “Don´t give up, give that little that you have”. So often I forget to move slowly through a day, I rush because deep down I kinda think “when I got my life fixed”, well THEN I can enjoy every minute and little pauses and so on … wrong, I know.

    One thing is always getting me back on my feet: writing my journal and don´t let a day out. That fills me up with peace. And a good talk to Jesus as well. And a long look at my children, what cute things they say and what they wanna GIVE ME, if I just stop and listen. The have super strong “Antennen” when I´m feeling that overwhelmed and lost … and then they start doing funny things to cheer me up – such a blessing.
    Sometimes it helps me stitching little things by hand, hexagons for a quilt or something of felt.

    I´m so glad you didn´t canceled this November e-course. I told you already ;) It´s so so so good – I´m really feeling different because of your Podcasts. Enough now. I hope you can slow down in december and your baby plays along the time schedule – sometimes they just arghh don´t ;)

  • Reply Melissa Norenberg November 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    I know what you mean when your use to feeling excited and uplifted about everything and then all of a sudden your wondering if you have any is has been such a slow year for me and I will sit at my easel and wonder, why should I bother no one is interested in what your painting. The artist in me keeps plugging away. I just started to try and sell on Etsy starting slow till i get the ropes all figured out. I would be interested in one of your blogging classes the world is changing and I don’t want to be left in the dirt. ~

  • Reply Maureen November 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Holly. I tore my ACL a few months ago playing tennis and am scheduled to have surgery in a few weeks. I was really upset because I love the sport and miss seeing my team mates who have become dear friends. After I had a huge pity party for myself, I decided to get busy. I’m taking your e-course, which I love. I’ve learned so much and have met people from around the globe. I’m working with a designer to redesign my blog. I’m taking the calligraphy course that I’ve been talking about taking for years. I’m hosting Thanksgiving, a Hanukkah party and a fundraiser for one of my pet foundations. I’m swimming as part of my rehab — something I haven’t done in years and am loving it. All of this has energized me and I have a positive attitude about my surgery and high hopes for a quick recovery. Bottom line: you can sit around and feel sorry for yourself or you can turn lemons into lemonade. I’m so glad I decided to open my stand.

    p.s. Never would have guessed you are from the south.

  • Reply Shalagh Hogan November 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    As a current BYW student, I deeply thank you for giving when you could have understandably chosen not to. A year ago I had morning sickness as well. Used to being creative and productive, it smashes our being. And then the love for that belly baby will charge your creativity like a rocket boost. I wish everyone could be as inspired as I have been through this course. That is all your doing Holly. Thank you again on behalf of everyone who takes the BYW course and gets it.

  • Reply pat sloan November 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I’m taking this workshop and really am glad you are there, that are you feeling better, and that you are ready for your little boy!

    When I’ve been in a rut, I often have to just push myself to DO.. I may not make something great, but I make something. And I go out .. out of the house… or out to teach when I wasn’t really thinking I could.. but I do.. People energize us. it’s a great plan to give of yourself.

    Big Hugs!

  • Reply monsterscircus November 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    You’re an inspiration as always! And I’m really enjoying your course, it’s fantastic and your drive and enthusiasm always gives me renewed energy and myself and my skills. Thank you for that!

  • Reply Sandra November 28, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Love this post and I will refer back to it often. Thank you.

  • Reply mireya pizarro November 28, 2013 at 4:58 am

    What a wonderful post? I sat down to read this just know and I have to say what perfect timing. I feel at a loss right now and can’t seem to find my creativity. I want to much to succeed with my typography art. I consider myself a humanitarian because I day dream all the time about life, love and my role in it. Yeah I want to do more of this and giving and giving to really make a difference in the world. I also love sweet and cake is my weakness. I want to combine these two loves into typography art that is positively delicious. I have been working on this for some time and opened an etsy shop. I have come so far and yet still have a ways to go. Thank you for this post! I guess what I do is seclude myself or as I like to call it take a sweet break. Sometimes its a great song, a walk in the park or a cupcake but you just have to take a break and relax.

  • Reply mireya pizarro November 28, 2013 at 4:59 am

    Oh dear I have some typos.

  • Reply mireya pizarro November 28, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Shalagh Hogan,

    What is the course? Perhaps I have missed it?

  • Reply mireya pizarro November 28, 2013 at 5:01 am


    What are you learning in calligraphy? I may want to take such a course.

  • Reply Sarah November 28, 2013 at 9:53 am

    What an incredible blog post. I never comment on blogs but this really lifted me and moved my focus in the right direction. Thank you so much. The world needs more of that thinking and action.

  • Reply Lucy Chen November 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Holy, what a great post! Honest, and inspiring!

    For me, forcing myself to just pick up that pencil or brush, to just simply do it, is the only way to get pass that “feeling low” thing.

    Sometimes we often have to do things, and that in turn, will inspire us.

  • Reply Wrenaissance Art November 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Wow, thanks so much for this post.
    Getting online and mindlessly surfing is indeed one of the worst ways to seek creative renewal. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way recommends doing a media fast for 2 weeks. She likens media to greasy potato chips–they fill you up without satisfying, so you just keep munching and munching…
    I’ve always found social contact to be a 2-edged sword for depression. It has to be the right socializing, you know? Going out with the gals when you’re down doesn’t change things and sometimes, you just feel like you’re bad company anyway. But getting together with like-minded others for the right reason, well that makes all the difference! A workshop, a volunteer project, whenever you’re around folks trying to get something accomplished, those good vibes are sure to rub off and give you a creative boost!
    Right now, I’m trying to find a way back in to my own creative practice. I find it most difficult to defend my time and space for creativity, not least from myself! It’s so easy to get frazzled by the daily to-do list. Before you know it, the day is gone…
    So glad you’ve been able to regain your energy. Best wishes on continuing the creative spark.

  • Reply Corinne Korda November 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    You inspire everyone in this class so much – how nice some of this enthusiasm is doing you some good in return. Thank you for everything!

  • Reply Bianca November 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Holly,

    Read Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley.

    • Reply decor8 November 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      @Bianca – Why, does it also talk about giving?

  • Reply mel November 30, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Holly what an absolutely beautiful post and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m a student of yours and I honestly am in awe of what you achieve in your week, especially being pregnant and having those difficult few months. It’s great to read your honesty and couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Mel x

  • Reply Andrea November 30, 2013 at 4:14 am

    My blog was my antidote to losing inspiration and re-finding creativity. A few years ago I had a ‘project rediscover creativity’ running on my blog complete with a check list posted in the side bar showing my progression through the list. It worked! I was fired up, just as I am now (this time the BYW course has been the catalyst! (thanks Holly) ).

    The nice thing about a discrete list of 10 projects was it felt manageable and I could use my blog to document the progress.

  • Reply Gwen. The Makerista November 30, 2013 at 6:48 am

    This is so lovely and true! I loved learning a bit more about you and getting some wisdom. Thanks so much!

  • Reply James Colon November 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Such a Great and informative article on home decor. home is the best way to leave good impression on visitors. I will soon apply the ideas and those tips in decoration of my room.

  • Reply janne lützhøft November 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Dear Holly

    Every time I read your lovely honest posts, I want to leave a comment. But I have so much to say to you, and then I leave it. I also have my dark moments in live without any sense of cretivity left, and (like you) earn my living by being creative, I’m an interior designer and live in Denmark. I some years ago, I created a fantastic way to regain my creativity, by making small coluorfull collages with images from ex. magazines. It also in a way shows you whats goiing on in your mind. Now I do it once a month, because it makes me feel good. Sometimes even with my friends. And that’s why I write about it on my blog. I want to give that to others.

  • Reply Dianna December 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Holly,

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a current student of your course and have LOVED it and learned a ton. I for one, am VERY glad you were able to forge ahead and teach the course. At the same time, I hope you can now take time for yourself, hubby and baby. Giving to yourself is very important right now for you since you are so close to having your baby. I’m at a point in my pregnancy (about 36 weeks) where comfortable just can’t be had at any point! I’m trying to relax, but I can’t seem to and my Type A personality doesn’t help! I actually think I HAVE slowed down, but my energy is so low that even a little bit of work is feeling like a ton. I’m so glad that you’ve found energy throughout this time. I have definitely found that when I’m creating…I’m more energized….just have to move slow.
    Anyways, not sure exactly what my point is here, but I wanted to thank you for the course that you taught while pregnant and I really hope you can find some down time now that it’s over. your baby boy will be here soon!

  • Reply Alice Switzer December 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Wow. So simple, yet so inspiring. Don’t give up, just give. Thank you!

  • Reply christelle is flabbergasting December 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    This is seriously one of the best piece of advice on creativity that I’ve read in a long time, Holly!
    Such a simple advice that MAKES sense! Thank you for being so generous and to give!

  • Reply Clare December 3, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Loved this post. I’m a designer and had a little boy a year ago which i wouldnt change for the world. I’m pregnant again with no2 as we wanted siblings close in age. It does take alot out of you looking after little ones & being their sole carer….i feel like the energy for anything mores been sucked out of me & am really missing creating now, having just been through the first trimester in this second pregnancy, same time as looking aft a toddler and just the other side of suffering from a bad bout of flu I can see the light! I want to make time again to regain my creativity so this post was read at just the right time! Thankyou so much & keep doing what you’re doing, love your blog and your taste.

  • Reply Simone Collet December 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Hey Holly, I’ve been taking your blogging classes during november and I cannot say that I gave much. I didn’t do any homework, I didn’t comment, I was too busy with my own thing, you know what I mean. But reading your post inspired me to share. The course was incredible, lots of high quality content in a variety of formats, beautiful images and of course your inspiring words. I’ve been following decor8 since the very begining, back in 2004 I think, when a 33 year old me decided to quit a corporate job and go back to school to study interior design and follow my passion. Ten years have passed and I think what you achieved is amazing, I really admire you for your hard work and dedication. During that time I had 2 beautiful little girls and now that I’m starting to look at my passion again I can’t even measure the impact the Blogging your Way course had on me.
    Well, all that to say that I hope you, Thorsten and the baby feel better and that I wish you happy, happy holidays and success! Love, Simone.
    PS: Thank you for giving!

  • Reply ce.leb December 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Holly, you found the way right to my heart at this very moment. I feel so stuck in my life for the past few weeks. Theres no energy left for anything, and even now, in this beautiful season that always lets my heart jump up and down.. theres nothing left inside. thank you for these beautiful words that keep the hope up!
    xxx, ce.leb

  • Reply Dominique Paolini December 4, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    What wonderful and wise words. I love when you share heart posts. They always resonate with me.

  • Reply Katja December 6, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Dearest Holly!
    Reading this post came to me as a Heaven sent message. Not, that I don’t appreciate your other posts but your posts about rethinking life, gaining creativity, searching your inner needs, finding your true call are the best.
    It almost made me teary in a good way, of course.
    So, please, never stop writing like this.
    Your words are so true.
    Your optimism is contagious. :)))

    Ps. I wish you all the best with your upcoming decoration and your baby boy. The life will have a new dimension. You’ll see. xo

  • Reply Kate @ Songs Kate Sang December 8, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Holly, this is such an inspirational post. Yes! Giving!

  • Reply Karen December 9, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I’m 38 and I’ve had three girls. I love to decorate!! When I was pregnant, all 3 times, my husband thought someone took over my body:). I had almost no creativity. I did nurseries and a couple other things but that was it. When people called and asked for decorating advice I had zero ideas. I even got sick looking at my magazines. The first time I was nervous that it would never be the same. By the third time people knew not to even ask for advice because I had nothing to say. But it all came back very quickly each time. Good luck!!

  • Reply Gertrud December 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Holly – thanks for this article. It really nails down what is the best remedy feeling exhausted and how to go about it. I was student of this particular class and I felt as exhausted as you describe it (the year before I gave birth to my 4th child, had nausea like hell, broke my femur and started a successful business). A friend pushed me to still take part in the class I talked about since months. It was for my best: I am actually re-energized, focus on the essential and not on the urgent, feel great about my growing (photography, blog style) skills – the course was finally an energy fuel not a drain. So thanks for pushing yourselves and sharing your feelings.

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