What to do when creative block strikes?
It is always the case that when you want to get something done quickly or you are on a tight time frame, creative block strikes. So instead of creating here I am writing about how I cannot create – at least I am getting something productive out of this time but it is not always that easy.
I’d heard about writer’s block, but when I first started my styling and photography journey full time I had no idea that applied to other creative fields as well, oh how naive I was!
I remember very clearly the first time this happened to me. I was working on a collection of images for a client, just 10 shots so that would usually take me a day or two if I was on form. However this time I got very thrown off by the colour palette and how to make it work, this was my ideal shoot, I loved the product and the concept so why the struggle?
Since then it has happened many more times when I’ve been creating photos, my first instinct was always to push through but it didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t an option. My ideas are just not translating into my photo, so I did some reading. I was relieved to know that creative block is a thing and I wasn’t the only person to suffer from it, in fact it seems to be very common.
It actually seems fair enough that your brain might want to take a wee break from having to think up new and creative ideas 24/7. I am constantly trying to come up with new layouts, colour combinations and creative concepts and when I am working on one thing I am always thinking about how I am going to tackle the next. I go to bed at night thinking about props, colours, backdrops, what I am working on next and coming up with a plan in my head….enough already!
Sometimes my creative block lasts a day or two but has been known to continue for an entire week! Anyone else who has experienced this will know all too well how frustrating this is and how hard it can be to turn things around.
I wanted to share some tips with you that I have found helpful in these situations. There is no quick fix but I have found there are steps you can take to get yourself back to creating at your best again (phew).
FIRST AND FOREMOST – STEP AWAY FROM WHAT YOU ARE DOING!
This is the most important thing to remember. If you find your ideas have run dry, stop what you are doing and take a break. Start with a short break, make a cup of tea, hang out the washing, check the mailbox. Do anything that gets you away from the problem at hand.
If you go back to tackle the image and it’s still not working then before frustration sets in ask yourself some questions. What is it that I don’t like about this? Is this an easy fix or does it require starting from scratch? I find if you stand back and look at the situation rationally you can often figure out the problem and often end up with an amazing image. If the problem is not an easy fix I suggest going back to the drawing board and rethinking your concept. This can be thoroughly annoying, especially if you have already spent way too long on it.
PLAY SOME MOTIVATIONAL MUSIC
Do not underestimate the power of a good song with a fast paced beat to get you back on form. I find that just like a good work out song inspires more effort at the gym fast paced, up beat (and often quite loud) music changes my mid set and really gets those thoughts flowing. I am constantly listening to music while I work and I have absolutely had situations where the move from slow to up beat music has increased my productivity.
FIND FRESH INSPIRATION
If the props, and backdrops that you have collected for your image are not working then try something new, move the objects around, take some out, add some in, change the composition, change the backdrop. Hopefully you’ll see immediate results, if not refer to step 1, take a breather and hunt out some fresh inspiration.
I find that if things have been slow for more than a day or so then buying a couple of new props can help. It only takes that one inspirational thing to kick your creativity back into action. A new magazine can be a nice treat and they are full of inspiring images and articles. Some fresh flowers, or even just a stroll around the garden for some foraged goodies could be the ticket. You can’t go wrong with Pinterest for fresh inspiration and as it happens we have a pretty stunning collection of images that might be just what you need to get back into it. Check those out here
I have just finished making myself a huge mood board in my studio that is covered in everything from colour palettes, food images, textures, images with great lighting or great styling. Now when I feel an attack of creative block coming on I am going to gaze at this wall for awhile to keep me on track and focused.
SEEK A SECOND OPINION
If whatever you have been working on is not coming together, then a fresh perspective can help. Someone else’s opinion could be all it takes to get rid of that annoying single item that is causing all this drama. This person does not need to necessarily need to know anything about styling or photography, they just need to see something different to what you’re seeing.
My husband is more than happy to admit he is not a creative, just like I am not a numbers person like he is. We have completely different perspectives and sometimes he comes up with things I had not even considered. It can be very helpful just to be able to think about it in a different way.
If it has been a few days since your creativity has gone into hiding then it could be because you are stressed, under pressure or just plain over it and it is officially time for a holiday.
Especially when you work from home there is no escape from the office as it is literally your dining room or spare bedroom. I have been trying really hard over the last year or so to put processes in place which means that I do have time for a break, that I get weekends off, that I can take a day here and there if I need to refocus. These things are all so important and looking after yourself first will mean that you are fresh and ready to take on that new project and nail it with your brilliant new ideas.
I hope this was helpful for anyone else that finds themselves in this situation often, of course if you have your own ideas I would love to hear them too so drop me a comment below.