Creativity, sometimes feels like a mystery. I am not sure why or how it happens exactly, all I know is that when it does, it is the most magical and purposeful feeling. Every so often, however, every creative person I know goes through patches of feeling uninspired and blah about one's own work. This creative indifference is frustrating, infuriation, and demoralizing to a creative mind. For the past month - the whole month of March and going into April, I felt that way. The feeling was so overwhelming and paralyzing that I didn't get myself together to write my blog post for March (sorry about that...)...
Thankfully, I am not there anymore! I talked to a few creatives, and tried a few things that they suggested ranging from taking a break to explore a completely different topic. I tired them all, and it boiled down to 3 things that actually worked for me.
1. Read instead, especially the "how to" books
As I mentioned before, feeling creatively indifferent isn't a super rare and hyper-unique situation. It happens to everyone. There are many many books and articles written about this topic (google it and see for yourself). Start reading and take notes! I like "how to" books because well, they tell me exactly what I need to do and focus on! The book that help me the most this time was STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST -10 things nobody told you about being creative. It provided some fresh perspectives (which I will talk about next) that I found extremely helpful. I am somewhere in the land of discovering who I am and figuring out where I would like to go next as an artist. I need all the help I can get.
Of course, I think any book would help - depends on your interest. In the past, I have gone to fictions, art history, and imperial/monarchial history to get my imaginations going again. The key is to switch gear and get out of your normal routines. Reading books allows me to get inside someone else's head, and it usually sparks a new way of looking at old things for me. This is essential to refresh one's creativity.
2. Imitate other artists' work and look at their processes
I have been drawing and exploring the same idea for a couple of years now. My process varied little from day to day, it used to be discipline, but then I went on autopilot. Like waking up everyday and get dressed for work, I wasn't creating with thought and intent behind. I felt uninspired by what I was doing and laziness settled in because I just didn't want to do it anymore. Then, I started copying the works of my favorite illustrators and artists in my sketchbook. I did it because the book I mentioned above told me that it is a great idea! Perhaps it was my young artist ego, or simply the lack of experience, but I used to believe in the uncompromisable importance of originality. I wanted to create things that have never been seen or done before. I never wanted to emulate anyone else's style or subject. The unintended result was that great artworks intimidated me and made me feel insecure about my own work. How am I ever going to be as great?! As it turned out, copying them was a good start!
I have learned a lot about new techniques and new artistic perspectives. It is helping my own work to grow tremendously. Now, I have a new found insatiable hunger to learn how other artists work and think. I want to infuse all the greatness that is out there to my own work, and I can't wait to see my evolution after this iteration.
3. Don't force it, and allow time to work its magic
The saying "go with the flow" really does ring true to almost everything in life. Sometimes, if your muses really refuse to visit no matter how you have tried, it is okay to give yourself a break and allow yourself to do bad work. It worked for me. The most important thing here is to never stop trying. I started one bad attempt after another. Sometimes I would finish my bad attempts (feeling annoying and dejected), but most of the time, I gave up half way, and I learned that it was okay. When I am inspired, I do great work, and when I am not, I do terrible work. It is very reasonable! I remind myself that I should't put expectations on the finished work. It is the process, the journey that matters.
During the 2 months of trying not so inspired work, reading and emulating others, one day suddenly, I felt my muse returning. My work felt different with something new injected. I was excited to notice it, and I was ecstatic. Doing bad work no longer plagued me. Why was I so afraid of making bad art? Every great artist has done it, and I am no exception.
Through this experience, I know the creative indifference isn't permanent, and eventually, everyone finds their groove again, so let time work its magic and not be so hard on yourself.
Creatives find inspirations everywhere, a lot of times, in the most unexpected places. If you allow yourself to take a step back and just take note of your indifferences, it could open you up to previously unappreciated things. The ups and downs are all part of the creative process. Keep going and never stop trying!
What have you tried in the past that worked for you? Leave a comment because I would love to hear about them!