On the highs and lows of being creative
For me it’s important to just do something so I always make sure there are small tasks I can achieve - one thing I always do is to write 5 ‘fragments’ each day - just a few words that capture something unusual or different - I have mentioned my love of flickr before and I draw a lot of inspiration for the fragments from looking through peoples favorites ... I don’t often write what I see more what triggers a thought or idea or ‘image’ in my head inspired by the photos ... these fragments in time help with all other aspects of my work from writing to photography to drawing and poetry ... I might not have the energy to do something ‘solid’ (as it were) but I can always manage at least the small task of the fragments ...
Henri Matisse once said, “Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.”
I’ve made a habit of morning walks. Four years ago, I gave myself a simple assignment to do as soon as I wake up: seek the light. I had a professional drought that stretched from Aug of ‘22 until this past March. taking L’s like that blankets everyday with a perpetual, suffocating blah. For me, the walks were the only thing that got me through… that little chore for my attention. It helped. I still do it, bend my whole life around it.
Sometimes the only thing to do is just get outside, look at some clouds, grass, people's faces, the smells and sounds. Move my body. Feel the ground at my feet and the air on my face. Pay attention to the world doing its thing. By getting outside of myself and the contents of my own head, somehow I am brought back to myself, renewed.
I have some techniques and principles that help me write:
I don’t need to start at the beginning. I can start at the middle or end.
Write. Don’t worry about making it all good. That is what rewriting is for.
If thing’s really suck, throw it out.
If things kinda suck, throw it out.
If things suck a little bit, I might keep it. Hey, I’m not Shakespeare and never will be. Acceptance!
Thank you for introducing me to Walker Esner!
Having some kind of daily creative practice that's doable within the flow of the day is crucial for me. Music helps a lot, and then making photos of myself jumping or dancing.
Couldn't help but admire the Walker Esner picture. Saw it before even diving into the accompanying text.
Really enjoying reading your first post (as a new subscriber)! For me, a little boost for me is to possess something beautiful on my working desk, like a wonderful pencil case (I wrote about it in my Quiet Power of Ritual" piece. Staring at the beautiful object, I get a little boost to keep going!
And I like Walker Esner AI photo - so creative!
I'm glad I found my way here. Such beautiful photos you shared. You're fortunate to be able to do what you love. I try to seize an outlet for creativity in pockets of time but it's really damn hard when my bread and butter entails so much work and takes up so much of my time and energy. But as you said, it's vital to keep going.
I, for one, love what comes easily - but there's a price to pay: emptiness.
And so, when the emptiness is too much I go back to what is fundamental to me such as my natural affinity with the visual arts and in particular with my own work when it's been edited down to the essential and nothing more.
And/or to Harry Callahan's work. There is a quality to Harry Callahan's work that cannot be named, pointed to or discussed in detail. We only know it as we know the evening breeze, by its healing effect upon us.
I have to disconnect from it all. Looking at the work of others would only send me into a comparison spiral and block my creativity even more. Music is a big source of inspiration. I've always had the dream of being a director of photography in a film because I just love the way images and music and words come together to build the story in a way that each of them alone would not. So I guess that's likely what I do, go outside with some music and let my mind wander until it lands on something that sparks the creativity again :) it's not that I never take inspiration from the work of others, I guess, but it's usually when I'm in a good enough space to have a learning mindset rather than in a creative block when the old stories are ready to jump in and try to say I'm not good enough why did I ever think I had any right to make art to begin with ^^'
Thank you for your tenacity!
I’m precisely writing my next newsletter about that. It’s called Formula 1, life, art and business. Talking about the importance of rest to be able to maintain the rhythm.
I appreciate you pushing through.
As a creativity coach, I can tell you sometimes a break is EXACTLY what you need. And sometimes it's better to do something anyway. The trick is to know the difference. If you're really exhausted, an intention-free break is probably the right call. If you're procrastinating, though, it can be helpful to figure out why and work with that cause. (That can be tricky, which is part of why creativity coaches exist. ;) )
One of my favorite things recently is just to pull out a good pair of headphones, pick out some classical music, turn it on, close my eyes, and really put my focus into noticing as much as I can in that music. It's uplifting and beautiful, and I know I'm doing it right when I get goosebumps. We don't take enough time to just pay attention to things like music anymore. It becomes background noise rather than something worth noticing. And honestly... it's good for us in SO many ways--if we pay attention. I really believe inspiration is all around us all the time, but it's easy to forget, and easy to get out of the habit of really noticing.
Almost always - yep, most definitely ALWAYS - I get through the fallow moments with a burst of 'outdoors'. Occasionally a run, these days more cycling, but always outdoors. Mind you, it was another lovely newsletter from you ... delighted you pushed on through, Andy.
I love your newsletters thank you