** Update - October 2018 - I wrote this post about Instagram specifically, although the same techniques would apply to other creative outlets - simply substitute the context **
OK lets talk about creativity & what to do when it deserts you. When creative block strikes...
I have been stuck in a creative lull for weeks, it’s driving me up the wall. I’m blaming it - in part - on external factors (having flu followed almost straight away with having a cold, January in general, rubbish weather, a difficult circumstance over which I have no control, you get the impression) and I’m sure they play a role, though I have a sneaking suspicion that this prolonged lack of inspiration is also due to an element of burning out…
I’m also pretty sure that every creative person hits a block from time to time. So the question is what to do when it happens…? I guess my advice would be find a way that works for you, creativity always comes back sooner or later, something will inspire you, until then here are a few suggestions to keep you going.
Post less, observe more
Take the pressure off yourself. I’ve said it before and will say again, there are no rules here. And despite how it may feel your followers won’t up and leave if you take a few weeks to collect yourself! If you have hit that point of not knowing what to post then take a little break. Let’s put this into perspective, it’s a photo sharing app. World peace does not depend on it. Simply enjoy scrolling and looking at others photos for a while.
Try new things
Recently I have been dabbling with moody lighting and dark shots. Not for every post but fairly regularly. It doesn’t come easily to me, I want to find a light background and well lit corner and to post low light dark shots has been a learning curve. So what’s the point? Well I don’t want to be a one trick pony. I want my photos to show different skills and techniques, I want my gallery to be a journey. In fact it is. It has colourful times and monochromatic times, there are themes and patterns and it evolves constantly. That is how I like it. Trying new things can be an inspiring gamble that isn’t always well received but I’d rather try than not, I don’t want to be posting the same photos I was posting two and a half years ago when I started Instagramming. This technique may not be for everyone but for me a change is a good thing. Try rotating photos to see a new perspective, try looking down or looking up. Read the brief differently and think outside the box.
Revisit old ideas
Having said that there is also something to be said for scrolling back down your own gallery and thinking about it, which parts make you feel good, what about them makes you happy, why do you like the way it looks? And of course which parts are you not so happy with and why? I am a bit of a compulsive deleter, if something isn’t working it gets the chop… And sometimes you might remember something you had forgotten.
This past couple of weeks I have remembered why I enjoyed arranging flowers around a cup (and have rediscovered #julias_cups, the joy, with a tongue in cheek name and nonsensical contents) the utter absorption for 10 minutes and the pretty result. Yep, looking back can also be inspiring, but don’t aim to replicate, make a new photo current and relevant with your previous photos acting only as a reference point.
Use your camera roll
Start a new hashtag
Oh I love a new hashtag. I can’t even remember all of the ones I have started but I have my favourites. Collecting images can inspire me to find the next shot that fits the theme. Have a look at #julias_beach or #julias_wildflowers they are my tags, my photos, great to see collect over time. Why not start you own? there are a million and one possibilities…
Write your ideas down
Sometimes you have the BEST idea and it either doesn’t fit now or you aren’t able to implement it straight away. Keep a note and come back to it later. (And this works for blog posts too!)
Look beyond Instagram
Because the world does not revolve around it and wonderful things are happening if you just take the time to look. Whether your ‘thing’ is art or gardening or floristry or collecting or antiques or reading books or magazines or ANYTHING else, inspiration can come from anywhere. It might be a pretty shop display or a combination of textures or colours. A raindrop on a new bud. The waves crashing against the shore. Absorb yourself in the world around you and creativity will come soon enough.
Scroll the explore page, refresh it a few times
One of the best things about this page is the variety of images/styles/techniques it includes. You will come across photos and accounts you might not otherwise and some of them are just amazing. It’s one of my current favourite things to do…
Follow new accounts, change your feed so it inspires you
Ok maybe not everyones thing but I follow and unfollow big accounts fairly regularly. There are some amazing Instagrammers out there. I have a thing about keeping the number I follow below 200, more than that and I find I can’t manage the scrolling (and I do like to scroll) so there is an element of turnover. But more than that, refreshing parts of your feed from time to time keeps it inspiring.
I am writing this post as a pep talk for myself as much as for you. I need a new perspective, to stop questioning whether I’m any good and just create what I feel like creating because even the low points are part of the creative journey and there is something to be learned from them.
So tell me, what do you do when you feel uninspired? How do you find that enthusiasm again? I’d love to hear your thoughts too…