If you work in a creative role the ideas for a new project can sometimes elude you. They are floating around your brain just out of reach. Like a memory that is hazy and you can’t quite recall the details.
I have felt this way specifically when it comes to visual storytelling. I have a mind that works as an idea generator, endlessly spitting out ideas. Flash, bam and my list of potential ideas grow. Then I started looking at Instagram in a different light and wanted to change how I used it. I wanted to embrace my creative side with some visual storytelling and for the first time in a long time, my mind went blank.I reached and reached into that dark well and came back with nothing.Then a feeling started to grow, an uneasy confusion welling up from the deep pit of my stomach. I knew I was lost, there was no horizon to set sail for and no tether to keep grounded.
There is nothing quite like that feeling and when you create for a living it’s a little terrifying especially if it has always been there and no have no idea why all of sudden it has left you. I started mapping out my days. What I worked on and how I worked and I noticed a few things that might help you if you are in need of some creative inspiration.
Stress is a killer of creativity.
As I mapped my work days I realised I was overworking myself and what I could reasonably achieve in a 1-hour slot. My mornings are divided into two, one-hour slots for other people. My work days are structured around my children who are in childcare from 9 – 12. Yes, that is three hours but I never take into account getting to and from school etc. So I had tagged in more work then I could possibly finish in 3 hours. I reduced my slots to 2 hours and use the other 45 minutes to catch up on leftover work from the day before. When I don’t meet deadlines it causes me a huge amount of stress. I like things worked out in advance as much as possible. When I’m stressed I’m less creative.
Time mapping helped me pinpoint my stress triggers in a day. I used a simple bullet journal and noted all my tasks and how I was feeling for two weeks. By reducing my stress creativity slowly started to come back.
Research is the key to creativity.
If you are completely lost head to Pinterest. I always start there and search through the amazing work of others. I start a mood board and pin everything to it that I like and then I start to nail down why I like it.
If I’m stuck writing I have a list of blogs that I keep because I love the author’s voice or phrases. I read some flash fiction noting down all the reasons why a particular piece stood out.
I scroll through Instagram explore page and when I stop at an image I write down why. Caption research was a little harder but the same thing.
Those people whose work you admire. Find them online, see their creative spaces. We all have them from 500 pixels to Stumbleupon. See what inspires them. Look through the accounts they follow. Do you like them if you do or don’t ask yourself why.
Find your audience online. Who are you creating for? What do they like? What colours do they lean towards?
Creativity often comes back when you are more informed about a subject. the more information you have, the more daring you can be.
Creativity takes courage.
To borrow a quote from Henri Matisse, creativity does take courage. If you are a little worried about how your work will be received then you are probably on the right path. As much as I admire safe, proven content or pieces of work, those stand out pieces, the ones where you go back time and time again. Those pieces took courage to create. They are stand out pieces for a reason. Louise O’Neil’s book ‘Asking for It’ is a book that highlights rape cultre. To write a book on such a controversial topic and release it took courage but by doing so, Louise started a conversation that we all should be having.
Creativity takes courage – Henri Matisse
For me personally, one of the things I don’t like is being in front of the camera or video. I’m uneasy with doing lives but yet I don’t mind presentations. I think it’s the fact that I was on stage as a child but when a camera is there, I start to get nervous. So I pushed myself with Instagram live and youtube. I let my partner take photos of me for Instagram and promotional material. It still scares me, I do it and sometimes I delete the image a little later. that image you scrolled past, that was the very first time I stepped out of my comfort zone. It was in response to a photo challenge but it made me see so many viewpoints after writing that blog post and my Instagram following also started to grow. although I would edit ti different now that I have my style it is still something that I’m proud that I did. to push the boat out and take courage it helps to push yourself in smaller stages first. If you can’t and the fear is too much then find a different viewpoint. try and tell your story in a way that reduces the fear attached. For me, that was concealing my face from the camera.
Creativity takes time.
You will probably like me a little less but it’s true. Creativity takes time. There is no replacement for allowing yourself some creative play time. If you don’t explore a new technique, take a new class or venture out and look at the world around you then you start to become stifled. A piece of work that has layers is one that holds true meaning. It provokes emotional responses and that is something I aim for when I create. I’m interested in the story, the reason why this piece is here. Why a yarn dyer sticks to a certain base. Why a photography prefers to shoot dark, moody pieces. Why a writer chose that subject matter with a specific point of view.
Those layers are usually added to a piece over time. You need time to develop a skill set and creativity needs time to grow. So give it time and don’t push it too much.
Finally, continue to create.
While you may not like what you create when your creative self is at a low point. The import thing I found was to continue to create, go through the motions, design, write, draw, take photos whatever it is you do, continue to do it. Those pieces don’t have to be shared with the world but I found out that by not writing every day it was harder to start again. If I wrote morning pages or trivial thoughts onto a page my flow kept coming even if it wasn’t inspired.
I hope this helps you find some inspiration. You can always join us over in our Facebook group for some daily inspiraton or to post a call for help.
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