Curing The Creative Lull - The Importance Of Personal Projects
A stale patch, a plateau, a creative roadblock. Whatever you want to call it, regardless of your creative discipline we all go through it. Even the famous ‘celebrity’ level creatives suffer from it, although they may spend a lot of time trying to convince you otherwise. It’s that crippling period where you aren’t really creating, rather you’re stuck doing making the same thing as always, and that lack of creative stimulation is a real killer.
I go through it regularly. Another photo shoot, another sunset over rocks on the coast. Hell, for a period of almost 6 months that was my only thing.
Luckily, there is a cure. Like all good advice it has been said a million times before by others, but like most creatives I decided to ignore it until I accidentally discovered it actually worked. Hopefully you won’t do that!
START A PERSONAL PROJECT
Make it long term. Taking one new type of photo is like taking one antibiotic; you need to finish the entire course or it won’t work. Contribute to it regularly. Aim for as different as possible within your creative field. Make it as large scale as you can. Get as far out of your comfort zone as possible with it; the more terrifying the better. Trust me, you will go from: scared, to uneasy, to comfortable, to excited, and finally to obsessed; while along the way your creative plateau issues will magically be cured.
Best case scenario, your personal project becomes a defining creative pursuit or career step (á la Humans of New York).
Worst case scenario: nobody else sees it, nobody else likes it, nobody else cares (see my last blog post about this), but you come away with a whole new string to your bow, a new skillset, some variation to your work and a huge boost to your creativity. WIN WIN
I used to avoid taking pictures of people like the plague. Now after consciously forcing myself to do the complete opposite, it’s what I enjoy shooting most and my travel portrait work is arguably the best in my portfolio.