When we are angry or depressed in our creativity, we have misplaced our power. We have allowed someone else to determine our worth, and then we are angry at being undervalued. – Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold
Over the years I’ve noticed that my creativity goes in cycles. Sometimes I’m prolific – I can’t wait to go spend all day with my camera. I’ve visualized shots in my head, have tons of ideas and am totally in the zone. It’s as if The Muse herself was whispering in my ear.
Other times…not so much.
During those times, I’d beat myself up over it. “Why aren’t you going out with your camera? Don’t you love photography anymore?”. When people would ask me on Monday if I shot anything good over the weekend, I got ashamed and made up a lame excuse. Internally, I’d get angry. Hell, I’m supposed to be a good photographer, right? Don’t good photographers have that passion every day?
Psst…here’s a secret. They don’t.
Whew, just knowing that is a bit of a load off, right? Everybody goes through dry spells. Let me repeat that – everybody goes through dry spells. It’s just the nature of the beast. If we knew how to turn it on and off, we’d be machines, not artists.
So what do you do if you’re in a dry spell and want to get out of it? Well, there are a few different things, but here’s what works best for me.
Or more specifically, do something other than photography.
If you want to be a better photographer, be a more interesting person – Jay Maisel
Go do something else. Go to an art museum, look at how painters use shapes, light and color. Go to a baseball game, go for a walk on the beach, go play with your dog, go meet someone new…anything.
While you’re doing “Something else” though, be open to light, shapes and colors. Just notice them, don’t analyze it too much. Notice the emotion that certain things evoke in you. If it’s visual, ask yourself why you had that reaction. Just make a mental note and file it away.
After a while, your mind will start to make associations with your art – how you could turn that emotion into a photograph, or even a series of photographs.
Give it time. It’s okay to not do photography for a while. Really, it is. The Muse will return when she feels you’re ready to invite her in.
What if you want to push through the low cycle anyway? I have a few ideas and things that worked for me, but I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to stimulate yourself photographically when you’re in a low cycle?
I’ll share mine next week.