One of the downsides about working in the creative industry is that there will be times when you’re just not feeling up to scratch, you’ll be lacking motivation to work on certain projects, you won’t feel confident with your work, and for whatever reason, you’ll find yourself slipping into a creative slump. It’s a natural occurrence and we’ve all been there. So how do you pick yourself up again?
The first thing you need to do is identify why you are in that creative slump, so have a think about what is causing it, and be honest with yourself. Are you working on too many projects that you don’t care about? Or are you just putting too much pressure on yourself for a certain job? More often than not, people find themselves in a creative slump because they care too much about what other people think about their work, or because they’ve taken on too much and the pressure of doing a good job isn’t inspiring them to create something cool that they can be proud of.
One of the best things that you can do to combat this is to just arrange a project that is entirely for you. Find something that you’re interested in trying or passionate about, and while arranging the project tell yourself that you won’t be sharing the finished product with anyone at all, it’ll never see the light of day and as nobody will ever see it, there’s no pressure on you to do it in any specific way. Without worrying about creating something that is going to generate you a bunch of likes on social media, or a pay day from a client, you’ll have the freedom to create something just for you, that you’re passionate about and that you can be proud of the finished product. It’ll provide you with an opportunity to get back in touch with what drew you to being creative in the first place and remind you why you love what you do so much, in turn opening you up to be inspired by the things around you. Realistically, as much as we want to share our work, the thing that actually brings us to want to share the things that we create with other people is being proud of it – and that comes from creating it just for you.
Another method that can be quite helpful is to go back through some of your older works to find something that you remember really inspired you at the time that you created it, and work on it all over again. Go back through your archives a few years and pull up a photo shoot, for instance, that you were proud of, and apply all of the new techniques you’ve learnt since then to create something new. You might be surprised with the amount of new editing or artistic techniques that you’ve learned since then, and it will really help you to create something new and unique that you weren’t able to do at the time.
Even though it can feel like the reason for your slump is coming from within yourself, it’s often caused by external factors, particularly by not having enough positive experiences within your creative process. One of the reasons could be that you had put a lot of time and effort into creating something for someone and they weren’t happy with it, giving you negative feedback that knocked your confidence in your creative ability, and if that happens a few times in a row it can really start to get you down without you realising. To combat this, it can be really helpful to create circumstances to have those positive experiences with your chosen art form. You could try collaborating with people who you know love what you do, or someone you’ve worked with before that you’ve got great results with, or work with someone who has been wanting to work with you for a long time, and you’ll just know that what you do together is going to give you a positive experience. They’re going to be happy with what you create for them, making you proud of what you have made together and really boosting your confidence and motivation to get to work again.
The most important part of pulling yourself out of a creative slump is to identify what it is that’s really getting you down and try and eliminate as many of those negative experiences from your life as possible. Take some time for yourself, focus on whatever it was that made you want to do what you do in the first place and what you love about it, and try and reconnect with that feeling to get you back on track and producing some awesome work. You may even find that it might be time to start thinking about pursuing a different subject area within your field, and that’s what’s going to make you happy to get out of bed in the morning and excited to get to work. So for example, if you’re a photographer and you are shooting loads of weddings and you’re feeling really down, maybe it’s because when you sit down and think about what you’re passionate about and what you want to be creating, it’s really artistic or in another genre. If that’s the case, you need to commit to changing direction, find new customers in that field and focus on re-branding your business around that. At the end of the day, you really will find that with everything in life, all you need to do is just continue to find ways to find positive interactions with everything that you do. That way, you’ll be in love with every element of your job and you’ll be excited to work harder than ever.