You know the feeling. It’s time to do art. So you’re about to put the paint brush or pen to the paper or you grab your camera to take pictures and then…nothing. You end up sitting there staring at a blank page for hours and eventually just close the journal, laptop, sketchbook or whatever project you were supposedly going to do and end up taking a nap instead, feeling awful that you got nothing accomplished. Or you did the usual stuff that you’ve heard from a million people to spark inspiration. You’ve gone for a walk through nature, took a break, went to your ‘inspirational music’ playlist on Spotify, scrolled through your pins on Pinterest, and you’re still in a funk. Honestly, that’s me more than I’d like to admit. Most times, the ‘usual’ age-old advice we’ve heard to spark inspiration doesn’t help, and I have a theory as to why. Inspiration in and of itself is too vague. One person may need inspiration for their next painting, another may need inspiration for their next photoshoot, while another person is experiencing writer’s block for their novel. See where the problem is there? Inspiration is found in different places depending on what it is you need inspiration in. Worse yet, what may feel as a ‘lack of inspiration’ may not be a lack of inspiration at all, but a deeper problem that’s not being addressed. When I feel ‘uninspired’ I’ve been learning to ask myself these questions to get down to the root issue:
1.When was the last time I’ve been somewhere or done something new?
Now yes, going for a walk in nature is one of the things everyone says to do to spark inspiration, but walking through the same nature-y park all the time will soon lose its inspiring power. Personally as a hermit, it’s difficult for me to force myself to go somewhere new, but it may be just what I need. It doesn’t need to be anywhere specific, just anywhere I haven’t been to. A new place in town? A nearby city I’ve never explored? Honestly, my husband is the more adventurous one out of the two of us and I know he’s going to use this against me when he reads that I’ve written this because he keeps bugging me about exploring new places but he’s right and I’m putting my foot in my mouth as I write this. If going somewhere new just isn’t in the cards for you right now, you can always learn something new or try something new that you may not be good at. The point is to get out of your routine one way or another.
2. What are my specific goals for my next project?
If you don’t know the details of what you’re looking to get out of your next project, it will have no direction and you won’t know where to go from there. This applies most heavily with creative writing I feel. I know for me personally as an author, I experience the worst writer’s block when I haven’t defined my goals for my story or don’t know my characters or setting well enough. That’s why I, begrudgingly, am currently taking a break from writing my story to world build and character build in detail because I can’t write about characters or a world I don’t know enough about. If you’re an author like me, think about looking up world building, plot building and character building worksheets. I promise I’ll be making more posts going into more detail about world-building and character building in later posts for my writers.
However, goal setting is crucial for art, photography and any other project. What message are you looking to send to your viewers? What feelings are you seeking to capture? What things invoke those feelings in you that you’re trying to capture? What things do you find value and deep meaning in currently? Then go from there.
3. Who was the last person I talked to about my projects or ideas?
Even as a hardcore introvert, I can not stress enough the value of talking to people about your projects and ideas or even previous projects and ideas. Who are your most supportive friends? Who in your life do you know loves it when you light up when you talk about your ideas? Using people as a sounding board for ideas is, for me, one of my most effective weapons against inspirational funkatude (yes, I just made up that word.) Having multiple perspectives is always better than one.
4. Is there something deeper going on that’s not being addressed?
This is something I was struggling with very recently. Sometimes what feels like a lack of inspiration can be a sign of something more. Are you trying to take on multiple projects at once and getting very little done in any one of them, thus overwhelming yourself? Are you currently struggling with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety? Have you been feeling discouraged lately? Have you been dealing with a particularly stressful issue in your life? Have you been feeling unmotivated? Are you sure it’s not perfectionism that’s holding you back? These things are inspiration killers and must be addressed if those ideas are going to start flowing again.
Now I know these are slightly vague and I want to get into details about all these things, but that would take half a novel to do so I promise for my next set of blog posts I’ll be diving deeper in each of these things but for now, I hope I’ve at least offered some things to think about the next time you feel uninspired.