coaxing creativity





Creativity doesn't always just happen. Sometimes you have to coax it out from hiding. You have to establish the right conditions that allow it to germinate. You have to tend to it so that ideas can flourish under your careful watch. Here are a few quick tips for making creativity happen, whether it wants to or not!

Books

Throughout my entire life, books have been the closest thing I've found to a panacea. Whenever I've felt down or just stuck in a rut, heading to a library or bookstore has nearly always swept away a less-than pleasant mood. Somewhere between the covers, I lose myself and all my doubts and emerge full of ideas and renewed purpose.

Last year I came across a book by Steven Pressfield titled The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles. While the book is geared ostensibly towards writers, it quickly reveals itself as a swift kick in the ass for all creatives. Pressfield talks a lot about the power of action, of consistent work for revealing creativity.

"This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.

When we sit ourselves down and commit to focusing on something, and to dedicating ourselves to our craft, suddenly you actually start to create things.

This book was a huge game-changer for me. Before Pressfield's tough love advice, I used to wait for ideas to grow spontaneously rather than working steadily to harvest them. I know it sounds less exciting than being struck by a brilliant idea from time-to-time, but trust me—it's far better to have lots of ideas little ideas that connect and snowball, rather than sporadic big ones.

Blogs

It's become part of my daily ritual to read a whole lotta blogs. I enjoy keeping up with what other people are producing and pondering. The visual feed alone is great, but the words and ideas of so many of these bloggers are what keep me coming back. A lot of photographers caution against looking to the work of others, but I think it's so important. First of all, if you're a freelancer and work alone, your peers are the closest thing you have to colleagues. Secondly, it's wonderful to see what other people are up to.

I do think, however, that it's important to look for inspiration outside of your own discipline. My favourite non-photography subjects are food, graphic design, interior design, style, pop culture commentary, and business. Here are just a few of the blogs I'm most inspired by lately:

A Beautiful Mess  //  Designlovefest  //  Breanna Rose  //  Into the Gloss  //  Top with Cinnamon  //   That Kind of Woman  //  Lake Jane  //  Gala Darling  //   Lisa Eldridge  //  I Love Wildfox  // Refinery29  //  Marie Forleo  //  Darling Magazine  //  Rue Magazine  //  The Glamourai  //  Fieldguided


Time and Place

It's important to learn your optimal time and place. You know, the zone where you do your best work. For me, it used to be Saturday and Sunday mornings. Right now it's weekday afternoons. Often, it's whenever you finally have a quiet moment to yourself. If you have it, don't waste it.

Once you've figured out how to seize your best moments, try to establish what kind of settings are most conducive to creativity for you personally. My favourite method of all time is setting myself up at a nice cafe with a whole pot of tea, a delicious snack, a blank notebook, and a ninety-minute time limit. That brings me to a final point: don't bore yourself to death. By setting time limits, you will force yourself to work under just a teensy bit of pressure, and you will know that at the end of that block you're released. If, after an hour and a half, your ideas are still flowing, let them! If not, get up and do something else.

I hope you've found this post helpful. I would love to know where you look for inspiration. Please feel free to leave a link to your favourite blog or book. I'm always happy to make new discoveries!