3 Ways to Stay Inspired As A Creative (with Links!)
Imagination and innovation are just words to someone facing a creative block. Constantly having to come up with new ways to tell stories, or provide inventive answers to business problems, drains the soul quicker than Usain Bolt can run the 100 meter. Creatives, including me, believe the fallacy that the only way we can get ahead is to be the most original, and the most unique, compared to the rest of the competition. We end up pressuring ourselves to perform better and do more—and we end up running ourselves to the ground.
Starting out, you imitate the works of the people whom you aspire to become one day. As your skills get better, you remix techniques you've learned and you find your own workflow. Eventually, you start making something that's original to you. Originality just means having a unique style, and having a different way of accomplishing challenges. But, eventually, your original thing becomes outdated and stale—maybe no one recognizes it; your competition is on some next level work—doing things no one else in the industry is doing—and getting everyone's attention. How do you stay original and ahead of the game? The answer will be different for each person according to creative acuity.
But here's 3 best practices that will keep your creative juices flowing and get you out of a creative rut.
Having constant exposure to the art and media in your particular industry will help you tremendously. To many of you, this might come naturally since seeing everyone else's work was what got you to do this work full time, anyway. There are, however, a few of you out there who are purists and would rather come up with something fresh by yourself everyday. Rather than taking ideas from other people, you just want to make sure every aspect of your creativity was all you. Realistically, that's impossible. We take inspiration from the most insignificant, and mundane, things we see in the world. Just own the fact that we take ideas from nature, from our own experiences and yes, even from other people.
The more you expose yourself to the creation of other artists, the more exercise your brain is getting; it's constantly trying to figure out a way to remix, or to even just replicate, another person's work. The more creative exercises that you do, the more fluid your creative thought processes become.
On top of all that, being constantly exposed to others' works just informs you about the new trends and movements that your industry is taking. While you may value independent thought, there's no value in being stuck under a rock.
The types of media that you expose yourself to should also not be limited to your vocation's type of media. If you're a video producer, like me, don't limit your media consumption to just promotional films and wedding videos. Going out to see a musical, or taking a cooking class (culinary is art), are some ideas to keep your mind fed. While these other types of art may not directly influence your work, they do help to cultivate your mind. For me, cooking (while I'm limited in my abilities) offers therapy that my job doesn't. It's peaceful, there's no pressure to be the best, and I usually do it with friends—so we're experiencing something fun together. Plus, eating everything you made is just a great prize.
As creatives, we are constantly looking to make something that fulfills us. We must understand, however, that it's okay to step away from our passions and expose ourselves to other art. Burning out on your passion is discouraging and sometimes, heartbreaking. There's no shame in stepping away from your work and be fed mentally (and emotionally) by other types of media.
Sometimes, it's just a matter of challenging yourself to try harder. A lot of my inspiration have come to me in the middle of working on a project. Something I was doing sparked a memory, or experience, or a story I heard about someone else. Too often, we wait for inspiration to come before we begin work. But in this case, I say that you should just start working—and it'll just come to you as you're moving along.
Being a millennial, I know all about the excuses and justifications we make for not being able to do something. I can't write a blog post because I don't have a website or because I don't have anything to talk about; or I can't make that funny video because I only have an iPhone X and not a real DSLR; or I can't set up that meeting because I don't have enough information about the client to even begin talking about doing a project together. What I've come to find being a creative working and doing his passion is that sometimes (actually all the time), I just have to bust through my excuses and my insecurities to get work done.
While this doesn't sound like what creatives can do, I'm speaking to the reality of our vocations. We still have to work, bust our behinds and go after it. The more you work, the more you challenge yourself. The more you challenge yourself, the more chances you get to stumble upon something inspirational. Maybe your work becomes the inspiration for someone else.
Come back next Thursday for the next weekly blog post!
Check out last week's article, Why Your Instagram Stories Should Be Next Level!
Jave Bjorkman is the founder and director of And So We Go Productions, Inc. located in Macon, GA. He works with non-profits, agencies and businesses to tell great stories with videos and photos. This series also appears on andsowego.co's blog and reflects his 6 year experience on Instagram as an avid content creator.