There are days when being creative is awesome – your juices are flowing, you’ve got great ideas, awesome clients, and loads of energy. You know what that’s like – the Holy Grail of pursuing a creative profession.
But none of us are lucky enough to achieve that everyday – and sometimes, it seems like it’s been weeks or months since that Holy Grail feeling has visited. And often, whether we’re writers (like me), or photographers, or designers, or any other sort of creative type, we spend much of our work time alone (even in an office environment). I sometimes end up stuck in a miasma of a downward cycle, where I lack energy so I don’t work hard enough to come up with new ideas, and my lack of ideas just gets me down. You know what I’m talking about – we’ve all been there.
This is where supportive creative friends and colleagues can be crucial. They can save your day, your week, or even your business.
Here are three ways you can take advantage of creative community, without getting all New Age and touchy-feely about things.
1. Find Inspiration
Visit the websites or tumblrs or Pinterest pages of some friends who do work along the lines of your own – or even along totally different lines. Really look at them. Even pretend you’re a prospective client, and see what WOWs you. Now pretend you’re a competitor, and see what you’d like to do in your own work. 15 minutes and you’re in an all new frame of mind.
2. Discover Distraction
Call up (okay, fine, Facebook-message) a friend or colleague in your town (someone who doesn’t work for the same company as you, if you’re in a firm). See if they can find time for coffee, or beer, or breakfast, or cocktails, or whatever, in the next 12 to 24 hours. If they can, go. No agenda. Just catching up, laughing, chatting. If they’re too slammed, either call someone else or – better yet – ask to shadow them for a few hours. Watch what they do, meet who they meet, listen to their process. Get your mind off your problems, and into someone else’s world.
3. Seek Help
If you’re in a more serious slump or have a deadline looming, ask for assistance. Put up a post on social media (check your privacy settings to be sure your clients don’t see your panic!) or drop a few emails to people who do what you do. Maybe you’ve worked with them before, or maybe you’ve kinda-always-sorta wanted to work with them, but never had an excuse. Now’s the excuse. And here’s the message: “Hey, it’s me. I’m stumped and stuck and need a hand. Can I borrow you for about an hour sometime today or tomorrow? Compensation will be karma and a suitable volume of your favorite beverage. The work involves me telling you what this project is about and you telling me what your brain says in response. No preparation needed!” You’ll get a zillion new ideas right on your focused target, all for under $20!
To be honest, I sometimes forget to do these things, and find myself stuck in a rut anyway. I’ll use these tips to revive myself, if you do too. Deal?
About the Author
Jeff Inglis is an award-winning writer, editor, and photographer based in Portland, Maine. He has also worked in Vermont, Missouri, New Zealand, and Antarctica, and has particular interest in analytical and investigative journalism, which is all part of generally trying to understand the world around him and share that world with others.