Overcoming my creative block

I don't know about anyone else but the whole lockdown process sapped my creativity - placing it in deep hibernation. Everyone assumed with 'all that free time' I would be snapping away for hours every day. But I haven't - in fact last week was one of the first times I actually picked up my camera for a long time. I've had creative block.

Whilst my brain tells me that being creative makes me happy I didnt seem to have the emotional reserves to cope with creating something that usually starts off as a very nebulous and vague thought or inspiration. I read a post by a painter I follow on social media recently and she expressed the same thoughts - she couldn't bring herself to go into her studio and do what she loves to do.

These times are extreme but it's not the first time I have had creative block - I'm sure it's part and parcel of having a creative interest - sometimes you just seem to run out of ideas and motivation.

Creativity can't be forced but you have to be ready to pick up on it. One of my favourite books is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about being ready to notice the creative ideas that are trying to get our attention. Inspiration doesn't necessarily show up when we are stressed, anxious, fearful, over-busy, tired etc - or rather we are too distracted to notice it. And all of those things are present in many lives right now!

In my case this means doing something else creative so that I have the space to notice. So I started by doing more prescriptive creativity - relearning how to bake bread without a machine, doing some painting (the DIY kind), learning some new Photoshop techniques - all things that had more of a fixed process - where I knew the steps I had to take.

Reading, discovering and listening to music and watching anything that grabbed my interest - trashy TV and reruns of old shows and movies are comforting and make you notice different things. I also discovered the Google Arts and Culture app - wonderful!

And slowly I started to reconnect - first those experiments with cyanotype (paused by the wrong weather!) which introduced a playful, unpredictable element to my creativity and a whole world of alternative processes to explore. Then last week as we ventured out into a slightly wider world I found myself beginning to notice things that made me think - that would be a great photo!

I made a slo mo video on Friday - just for fun and because one of the creative's newsletters I subscribe to had a tutorial which landed in my inbox. But it made me sit in the garden with my camera and take lots more images. Later that day when planning some social media posts for this month I started to get ideas for mini projects. This week it's peas!

So if you are still struggling to feel creative - don't panic - it is temporary even if a little longer lasting than usual!

Pause, notice what's around you and be curious again. Subscribe to newsletters by those photographers who interest you or find their You Tube channels. You never know whether something they say or do might light a spark for you - even if it's not in a direction you'd ever thought about - like the video I made (You can see it on both my Facebook and Instagram feeds).

Do anything creative - baking, decorating, singing or playing an instrument etc - it's not picking up your camera but it is being creative and it will help give you the space to reconnect with your photography. So I'm off to reread Big Magic and play with some peas!

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All images © Sarah Holmes 2021 No reproduction without prior permission.