There’s not one day that passes during which we are not creating something. Yes, that goes for you too financial advisor and local grocery cashier! No need to be Patti Smith or David Lynch to have the right to create. Finding a solution to a problem, getting dressed in the morning, changing a text before hitting ‘send’ or adding ginger to a Riri’s recipe (calm down, Rihanna didn’t release a cookbook undercover — it’s my nickname for Ricardo): all those decisions, as meaningless as they may seem, are manifestations of our creative instincts.
My personal creativity tends to fall under the artistic category. From the moment I was old enough to hold a pen, I’ve always loved making things with my hands: drawing, playing piano, sewing, styling, painting, writing. Amongst the hundreds and hundreds of projects I’ve done so far, I’ve experienced the blank page syndrome in 85% of them.
There’s this myth about creativity that it only strikes when you least expect it. It’s a lie. Wait, let me put it in caps lock to make sure you read that right. IT’S A LIE. You really think David Bowie and Miuccia Prada became artistic geniuses just by staring at a blank wall waiting for that miraculous lightning bolt to strike?
You have to run after creativity to find it — you have to stimulate it, provoke it, search for it and, most importantly, make it come to life. An idea is worthless if it doesn’t find its way out of your head.
So, enough tough love for today! Being someone who works in a highly creative industry, I decided to share with you my tricks for when inspiration is as rare as a magazine without Gigi or Bella Hadid’s faces in it.
Do something else
It may seem as counterproductive to distract yourself when you should be focusing on a specific thing instead, but hear me out. When I’m writing a piece and I feel like what’s coming out of my brain is pure garbage juice, I shut down my computer and go for a 30-minute run on the bike path next to my place. My boyfriend comes up with new jokes when he’s in the shower (he’s a comedian). Whatever you’re doing, stop and go do something else. You’ll thank me later.
Get inspired with other people’s work
Every time I go to the theatre, to a show or to a museum, I come back home with a head bursting with new ideas. When I was studying fashion design, I once did an entire collection based on one piece by Willem de Kooning. I also did a whole painting based on a single song and how it made me feel. It might sound a little emo to you, but it works. When you feel like you’re heading towards a dead-end, dive into other people’s creativity.
Put down your cellphone
Every time I don’t know what to write anymore or I’m running low on inspiration the day before a shoot, I have this really annoying habit of obsessively checking my phone, like if I was expecting Siri to find a solution to my problem. I guess I’m uncomfortable with obstacles, ‘not knowing the answer’, so I try to think about anything else BUT the issue. It’s the worst thing. Other than being straight-up ‘procrastination’, it makes my brain go into passive mode.
I actually wrote this post with my cellphone in another other room (yup, I have very little discipline) to avoid distraction. And guess what? I’ve survived and written this post faster than ever.
Change the setting
All freelancers will agree with me on that one: by working at home so much, the chance of becoming cray-cray is considerably high. To fight back a lack of inspiration, changing the setting might be the solution to a creative rut. I have about 10 coffee shops in my neighbourhood, all at a 10-minute walk distance from my place. Every barista knows me and I’m one americano away of demanding (yup, not even asking) my very own fidelity card.
“What, but Joëlle! I thought constraints were the exact opposite of creativity!” Darling, you’re so wrong! Let me give you an example. You’re by yourself in a grocery store and you can buy anything you want for a dinner with friends you’re having later at your place. Chances are, you’re going to go for a recipe you’ve tried many times before with ingredients you’re comfortable cooking with. Now, let’s set the table for something totally different (pun intended). You’re at home and you only have access to four ingredients you’ve never cooked before: halloumi, bulgur, fiddleheads and a handful of gummy bears (just to make it reeeal funky). Half an hour later, there you are, creating a brand new recipe you would have never considered if those ingredients had not been imposed on you! When you get outside of your comfort zone, you open yourself to a whole new world of possibilities.
Listen to a different playlist
When I write, I have my go-to artists: Solange, Bon Iver, Lorde, U2 (yeah, I’ve been listening to U2 since I was a teenager). However, when I feel my creative fuel running low, putting on music that I never listen to tends to spark aha moments. For example: Elton John + an article on the metallic trend = A+++. By ditching my routine, my brain connects ideas in a way it wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Drink a glass (or two) of wine
Or beer. Or bourbon. Or *insert your favourite alcoholic beverage right here*. Now, don’t misquote me here. I don’t down a mezcal shooter at 10am when I have trouble writing an article on fanny packs. I’m talking about pouring myself a glass of wine after 5pm (the hour at which I technically don’t have to answer my emails anymore) when I’m planning on writing all night long. Alcohol makes inhibition disappears, which can’t be bad when you’re crumbling under the writer’s block. Cheers!
Get your work off of its pedestal
When I was studying at Concordia, my drawing teacher told me something that really stuck with me. She advised us not to overvalue our work, regardless of the time or effort that had been put in it. In other words, it’s not because you spend 45 hours on a drawing that it’s going to be spectacular. It could even be complete garbage! And you know what? It’s no biggie. Take notes, put it aside and start over.
If I had you read all my drafts, you’d wonder how the hell can I make a living out of writing! Reality is that my rough copies have nothing to do with my final versions. I work and rework my text, over and over and over again… No need to be disappointed because what I intended to do is not at all how it’s turning out. As long as what’s in front of me is better than what I started off with. It’s not? Well then, let’s start over.
Photos by Melika Dez
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