Last summer I did something I never thought I’d do. After 7 years, I stepped away from my photography business. I told everyone it was just a temporary thing, but the truth was I wasn’t sure if I would ever pick up my camera again. I had absolutely zero desire to. It and everything else associated with it had come to symbolize stress, overwork, and just going through the motions. That last one was key. At some point I had stopped creating for me. And it didn’t take very long for me to lose the passion that sparked the whole thing in the beginning.
So what do you do when the ideas stop coming? Well I picked up my camera again for the first time in months and this is how I got to that point:
Find what sparks your imagination and run with it
Everything. No matter how weird and off subject it may be to what you’re working on. I went to the bookstore and bought three books solely because something inside of me perked up as I looked at them. Not that different until you realize one of them is called How Wars Are Won and I’ve highlighted the crap out of that. (Side note: I’m writing a book and find myself very inspired to write when I read about wars or history.) So read, watch movies, listen to podcasts, go to the zoo and look at the animals. Your thing is going to be very unique to you.
Follow interesting people
Find people in your field that inspire you. Soak up their creative vibes. One of the greatest things I did in my months of hiatus was be very intentional about connecting with creative people. Collaborating, bouncing ideas off one another…it’s like soul food for the creative heart.
Compare yourself against you and you only
Nothing can steal your joy as quickly as looking at someone else’s work and thinking well mine isn’t nearly that good. What matters for you is if your work is improving. Was it better than last time? Good. Was it worse? How can you improve next time?
Never stop learning
Here’s where following people can be so helpful because you see lots of new ideas. It also helps to stop you from comparing yourself to them. Instead of getting bummed on why their stuff is always better than yours, figure out what about their work you like. Are they using a new technique? Try it out. Whatever you do though, never ever stop learning.
Find your place
If I’m drained, I head for the woods. There’s something about going out, unplugging from the world, and just taking in God’s best creations that puts my soul at rest. Find your place. Go there often.