Filling the Well
Not many people know this, but before I became a photographer, I worked as a graphic designer. As you can tell from my site and various materials, this skillset is still serving me well.
Back in the day, I was fresh out of high school and wanted to pursue a career in graphic design, or commercial art as it was called. When I was in school, we had a brilliant teacher, Penny, who was a highly-regarded industry professional. She taught us the basic lesson plan which consisted of software, workflow, techniques, and the mindset of a designer. But, she also injected some of her personal experiences into the course to give us a more well-rounded understanding. One of the things she taught us is, that as creatives, we need to be constantly filling our well.
Now, you may wonder what this means so I'll try to explain it in simpler terms for you non-creatives that may be reading this.
Penny stated that creative people have a well in which they use to draw creativity and inspiration. When faced with a creative challenge, they dip down into that well to tap into those resources to complete the task at hand — similar to dipping a bucket into a well of water.
As time goes on and our work becomes more taxing, we begin to dip into this well more often to get the job done. We can do it so much in fact, that we end up drying out the well. When this happens, we begin to suffer creative blocks — periods of time in which good ideas simply won't appear, no matter what we do. To combat this, she advised us to always be filling our wells so we can replace what we've taken out. As she explained it, there are a number of things that can do this. Here are a few of my favorites
1. Go for a walk Nothing can clear your head like going outside and taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Leave the electronic devices at home and just unplug for a while. This can do wonders to reset your creative computer.
2. Try a Different Medium When you're feeling blocked with your medium of choice, sometimes it's helpful to break off from that try new creative avenues to ease the congestion. Challenge yourself to try or learn a new medium. It's this challenge that opens up your brain helps you become more well-rounded as a creative. Personally, I enjoy creative writing, personal graphic design projects, and illustration.
3. Improve Your Well-Being Like everyone else, so much of our mental capacity is rooted in our body's overall wellness. Simply put, when we're feeling better, we function better. If you're really struggling, take a look at your day-to-day to find out what you can be doing to take better care of yourself. Try working out, yoga, changing your diet, or simply getting more sleep. Speaking of personal experiences, a while back I decided to try changing up my diet to only eat natural and/or organic foods to see what effect that would have on my system. Immediately, I noticed that I felt more energetic, lighter on my feet, and my thought process was faster and clearer — so it really does make a difference.
4. Music Music is the great connector. It spans the gaps between ethnicity, generations, and culture. One great creativity and mood booster is to simply zone out and listen to some music. Take time to appreciate some of your current favorites or even search to discover new music that speaks to you. I do this a lot actually. Down in my office I use Spotify to manage and discover music. Once I've got a solid selection, I use a pair of Crossfade V-MODA LP2 headphones and a headphone amp to deep-listen to the music and appreciate all the rich undertones and melodies. Combine this with a hot cup of coffee and nothing relaxes me faster.
5. Family/Friends Spending time with family and friends is also a great getaway to keep you grounded when a mountain of work is staring you in the face. People, in general, were not meant to be holed up in a little office staring at a screen — we're meant to interact and socialize. So, when I need some human interaction, I usually grab a bite/drinks with friends or spend a day with my family doing a fun activity. It's also worth noting that no matter how much work I have, I always make time to play with my daughter just about every day. It's pretty much my favorite thing in the world.
So, there you go! Let this serve as a reminder to always keep filling your well and engage in activities to keep you on top of your creative game. This is just a glimpse at some of the things I do to keep moving forward. What about you? What keeps your mojo going?