As creative beings, we all have moments where creativity seems to be flowing through us; times when we feel so stuck in a rut, and feel as though we may never climb out. These can come to us in cycles, in swings, and in whichever other notion you’d like to describe it. Certainly, we've all experienced both sides of the coin, but when we're feeling particularly uninspired as creative bodies, it can feel like no end is in sight.
For me, winters always seem to be the most difficult times for creativity. In the winter, I seem to be working more with paper than I am with my camera. I’m bracing for the new year, reformatting documents, adjusting prices, and getting my finances in order for all the goals I’ve set for the year. I think in numbers and words, not ideas and concepts. In the winter, when I do get my occasional photo shoot booked, I seem to fall apart. Recently, I've used used the long winter days to my advantage. I get inspired starting through travel. I found that in order to be inspired, you must build a world around you that separates you from your own. For me, that's through traveling.
‘CREATIVITY IS THE RESIDUE OF TIME WASTED.’ -Albert Einstein
A study done in 2009 by Kellogg School of Management and INSEAD has shown that those who travel, particularly abroad, have shown a higher level of creativity. This was done through a series of puzzles, and confirmed the idea that travelling abroad makes us more open-minded to different ideas, and helps us understand that many ideas can have multiple solutions.
Travelling inspires us because it makes us think differently. It exercises our brains with all the unfamiliarities that you see around you, and as a result, helps you come up with new concepts you haven’t pondered. It literally MAKES you think outside the box. When you escape the box that you’re comfortable in, it makes your mind aware of all these ideas that you had previously suppressed; it forces us to interpret our surroundings differently, and as a result, makes us less insular.
BREAKTHROUGHS OFTEN COME THROUGH BREAKS.
Travel doesn’t need to be much. I’m not suggesting you go and book a $800 flight every time you’re not feeling particularly inspired or creative. Traveling can be as simple as visiting a place you’ve never been before. When you’re not feeling creative, get in your car and visit the little town over that you’ve never been to. Take an extra 15 minutes and make a new route to work in the morning. Spend time exploring during times you’re usually busy sleeping or eating. Be alive to ambiguity, and allow abnormal events to come into your life.
We’re all creative people, capable of clever ideas and abstract thinking. The brain works like a muscle, and in order to think differently about things, it needs to be exercised. This is done through experiences, and cannot be taught in a structured classroom. New ideas come from new experiences, and that is why venturing out is so important to those who work in creative fields.
"Don’t let people divide the world into the creative and the non-creative like it’s some God given thing…. People [should] realize they are naturally creative and… these people should let their ideas fly. They should achieve… self-efficacy, [meaning they] should do what they set out to do… And reach a place of creative confidence."
- David Kelley
So if you’re feeling particularly uninspired or uncreative, go out and explore. And to some of us, this can be as simple as location scouting, but I encourage you to scout with an open mind. Don’t come in with predetermined ideas or thoughts, as those are just going to restrict what you may find or see. Instead, just go out and find things. You don’t even need to bring your camera, especially if you think its going to restrict your motives. This isn't about photography, not yet at least.