Students often express frustration at what they describe as a "rut". It's a state of inactivity where they feel creatively stuck, tires spinning, with no way out of the ditch. This situation is not just isolated to students, as professional photographers can plateau, and seek guidance to break out of their comfort zone, and move towards artistic growth. Regardless of your experience level, the five ideas below have the power to awaken your creative spirit.
1) Get Lost
Perhaps the best way to break a routine is simply to do something totally different. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating, sometimes we need to be lost in order to be found. Remember, when you really don't feel like doing anything, that is the best time to force yourself to do something!
Kurt Vonnegut walked to the post office everyday to buy a single envelope. When his wife asked why he didn't just buy a box online, he replied,
"I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."
2) Bring A Book
Check out Seth Godin's inspiring book The Icarus Deception. In it, Mr. Godin challenges the reader to break from the tired constraints of traditional thinking, take risks, and work towards personal and professional growth. It's a quick read, but the passages stick with you, like this quote:
"It's never too late to redefine self-control, to change long-ingrained habits, and to do the work you're capable of."
3) Read a Blog
Maria Popova is the author of "Brain Pickings", a blog full of daily interestingness. Her tweets are also quite informative, providing little perks of wisdom sprinkled throughout the day. This article in particular is a good place to start: "How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love". Don't miss it.
4) Try the Morning
I know, it's too early...but the mornings are quiet and give us a chance to work on photos, think, write, and read before the insanity of the day begins. Many people have tried this, but end up tapping snooze until it's light out. Instead of pulling the blankets over your head, try this: No decision making first thing in the morning. If you allow yourself to reason "it's too cold", or "I'll do it tomorrow", you will never get up. To overcome those early morning thoughts, I repeat one simple phrase, "feet on the floor".
5) Turn it Up
If music can soothe the savage beast, it can also motivate the sluggish sloth. For me, music is essential to the creative process. I listen while I write, edit photos, and answer emails. If I don't add new songs to my playlists, I start to get bored listening to the same old thing every day. There are so many great places to get new music. Many libraries allow you to check out cds to borrow for a few weeks. This is a good option to try albums before you buy them. You can also do this online with Grooveshark.