Seeing the sunny weather after months of snowy, rainy cloud, can be a great inspiration when it comes to being creative. That’s fantastic, and make sure you make the most of it! But how does one maintain the motivation in day to day life?
Let’s face it, work and real life can get in the way of creativity, and certainly tends to be the main excuse for lack of creative productivity. It is hard to satisfy those creative urges when you have had a difficult day or week at work. It is easy to over think it all, and decide to ‘take it easy’. Realistically, this is a poor excuse, and one I have been guilty of many a time.
It is very easy to tell someone: Don’t over think it, just go and do it. Yes, this is true generally... just doing something and not over thinking it can yield productive results, and even surprise you. However, sometimes going out without being prepared can also be a bad thing. You go out, with a camera or pick up a guitar or a pencil and just start trying to pour all your frustration and effort into it, then find that now this just proves your apathetic mood towards doing it in the first place.
Now before I get into this next part, don’t shoot me, but I do enjoy making lists of things to do, shoot, write, etc. I am not suggesting you write a list then just go out right away and do something, but rather make a list at any point in order to draw inspiration from in the future.
A good example of this for me is videos. I make lists of equipment or topics, so that down the line I can go... right I will do "this". Now, I will concede I have a habit for "winging it". Taking a piece of new gear out with camera face and just hitting record and going for it. As much as this shows the advantage of just going out and doing something, I want to highlight that this is only usually possible because of making lists and thinking about different things helps to keep creative juices flowing.
I make lists for all sorts of things. Songwriting, photography, videos, etc. Even writing down things that may seem half arsed, sometimes when putting them into practice become some of the best work I have done. Musically speaking, I am in my element when experimenting, which can translate well live, as well as recording. I have found this translates into photography as well. So I like to keep an open mind when making these lists.
Granted at the moment, a lot of my video work is on vintage Olympus and Zuiko gear, so a large portion of the list is made up of these things. But even writing something like "Why do you do photography?" Is a great subject. This can have you falling down the rabbit hole exploring the the psychology and reasoning behind: why do make certain decisions or lean towards doing certain things?
So lists and Spontaneity not doing it for you? Another suggestion I have is surround yourself in what you love. By this, I mean if you are into something, make sure you are subjecting yourself to it. For example, If you are into a specific type of photography; watch videos and read books about it. This can be applied to anything you are into. This can be a great way to introduce inspiration, as you are absorbing all sorts of information, even if you are only half paying attention to it. In fact, if you are half paying attention, you will find that something will stand out above the noise and grab your attention.
Watching camera videos give me a lot of inspiration. Compared to videos on photography, which tends to be overrun by a lot of opinion. Granted you encounter this in camera videos, however, I tend to skip boring intros and talking, and skip to how it is being used. One thing I have noticed, whether it is guitar gear or photography gear, is I tend to use it differently to how most people in videos are.
Take an image, painting, or album art that you love, get it printed, and put it somewhere. Perhaps on your desk at home, or on the wall in your lounge or kitchen. somewhere where you are seeing it/ walking past but not necessarily paying attention, as your subconscious is recording. Having things that elicits a response in you when you see or hear it should be something you are exposing yourself to.
This next section feeds into the last part; make sure you put time aside to do something involving what you love. This can be a small amount of time or perhaps up to an hour. But make sure you take time to play around with photo editors, seeing what you can do to the photographs. Take time to watch videos around a type of photography you don’t know much about. Find a couple of youtubers that post some content you enjoy, and subscribe. You will be notified when there is a new video, and you can put 10-15 minutes aside to watch it.
Put aside time to do all these things in your life. And then, take time to do nothing in between. Counter intuitive right? the inspiration well is something that easily drys up. Taking a break from something you love is important, as it allows time to absorb information, and to forget certain thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards things. This then in turn allows you to come back to doing what you love with recharged batteries.
To stop this going from a break to "stopping to do it and falling back into your bad habits of not actually doing anything" situation, you have to do make sure you are doing the other things in your life. Once you get into a cycle of doing the other things, they encourage inspiration, and in turn encourage creativity. Taking a break can make you want to go back and do it even more, rather than "I want to do it but I can’t because...". It is about remembering inspiration is not the life lasting energy of a star, but rather like the battery in the devices you use. You need to let it all re-charge, but you can still do these things throughout the day.
Doesn’t make sense? How often do you look at your phone everyday? How often are you on a tablet or laptop in your spare time every day? Try to imagine this over the course of a week, a month, a year. How much time do you think that is a year? So now start applying the things I have mentioned in tandem with these things. Looking at your phone? Change your wall paper every week. Make sure you are taking photos of things, even mundane things on your phone. Put a video on in the background whilst doing things on your tablet or laptop. Perhaps start researching places to print photos or a piece of gear your want to save up for.
After a while, these things find their way deeper and deeper into your routine. finding someone else to do these things with can be an even bigger inspiration. I love doing things I love with friends, and having someone that finds inspiration easily is someone to spend time around. Inspiration can breed inspiration, and fun can breed creativity.
After a month of doing these things in your spare time (watching videos, subjecting yourself to images, going out and practicing, doing them with friends, then taking a small break), you might find it much easier to come back and find inspiration.
Anywho, catch you on the flip-flop! - Sly.