How to Defeat a Creative Slump
by Lauren McMichael
An artist's worst enemy is the lack of inspiration. Most creatives have found themselves in the void, but there is a considerable slump recently with the world's stresses. How do we get past this? That's the million-dollar question. I don't have the cure-all be all; however, I can express my personal experience, and hopefully, this tip can help others.
A simple Google search and we can find websites with word generators. I particularly enjoy generating adjectives. My brain rationalizes creating concepts with words that are describers. Recently, I have discovered that the terms I tend to gravitate to represent my current opinions and feelings. Moreover, I can ask what this means to me, and how do I see it in my head?
A year had passed since my last photoshoot due to an insane amount of complications. My father developed Cirrhosis of the Liver due to chronic alcoholism. We spent the first part of the year in and out of the hospital and had a spontaneous road trip to a rehabilitation center. Unfortunately, the damage to my dad's liver was too extreme to fix, and slowly he got worse. By the time March 2020 rolled around, life became a lot more aggravating. Due to Covid-19, hospital visits were limited to zero. My mom and I were out of work because we weren’t classified as essential workers. A car accident, my dad's passing, a legal battle, my mom's surgery, and significant depression later, I was tired. Life seemed to be lackluster.
I knew deep down that I missed the adrenaline rush of a shoot, but I had no motivation, no spark, and no idea what to do. It was then I had remembered my word generator tip, and I came across "Belligerent." Hostile and aggressive. Not a description of my personality by any means, but I felt drawn to it. I began to plan how I saw aggression in my head and translate it into a fashion photoshoot. My interpretation of "Belligerence" linked directly to anger towards the hand I had been dealt with, in the previous year. By connecting my work to my inner psyche, I knew executing this project would be cathartic. Meanwhile, I am fortunate to live in an area where there were fewer restrictions to social outings, so I formulated a concept, sent out a model call on my Instagram, and immediately, got to work.
For as long as art has existed, some of the best pieces have come from deep-seated struggles. It's inherently therapeutic for left-brainers to have their emotions played out visually. This is how I felt. The moment I began editing the content I gathered, the fog lifted. It was like taking a large breath after brushing your teeth. Refreshing. Clean. Crisp. I wasn't "fixed," but I made a personal breakthrough. Something that I'd spoken to my therapist previously.
If you are not as fortunate as me with the stay at home order, do not get discouraged. I found the creative process alone was enough for a breakthrough. Create a Pinterest board, cut out pictures from a magazine, doodle mindlessly, write about everything you do during the day in a journal and how you feel about it. When you finally gather the gumption to generate a word through a website, take notes about the similarities in your doodles, pictures, and comments, then run with it. Plan your project as if quarantine doesn't exist. Just because you can't execute the plan now doesn't mean this creative process is a waste. It's a mental exercise. Before you know it, the world will go back to normal, and you'll have gathered an abundance of sound concepts to take the plunge on.
My idea of expressing anger through art is not new. Although, complete originality doesn't exist; what does exist is authenticity. If we live authentically in our human experiences and process our surroundings, what we create is naturally original because it's a reflection of your unique self. All in all, it's important to remember during a creative slump to not be too hard on ourselves and appreciate the lack of inspiration for what it is. The absence of inspiration has to exist for it to spark inside of you.
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