The blank page syndrome. The burnout moment. The empty mind feeling. Everybody, but specially those of us who work in a creative field have experienced it. Even the student during the long hours before an exam has this thought: I don’t feel like it.
And you know that it’s quite difficult to be productive when you are not feeling it right? But you know you have to do it and start as soon as possible. How can we move on from that pain and do the work?
Smart procrastination. That’s my answer and my method. Well, prior to that I would try to do something else that is equally urgent or important. When that doesn’t work, I decide I will have a good time and start working in a different way.
“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The non-existent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.”— Nikos Kazantzakis
Let’s imagine I need to do an illustration. I don’t know where to start. I should have a concept, and I may have one, but it’s not talking to me, I’m not visualizing the painting yet.
So, what do I do?
1- I keep a folder full of images that I collect for future reference or inspiration. Things I would like to draw, inspiring pictures or others’ illustrations and paintings that I like. Going through all of my favorites could help me get a clear image of what I’d like my illustration to look like, choose a palette I want to try or just convey a feeling I want to incorporate to the piece.
2 – Option two: use Pinterest. Not in an endless search for something without even knowing what I’m looking for, but just to look through all of my boards and see if there’s a theme that I haven’t tried yet or maybe let the lifestyle of my choice inspire the real me. One that I would specially recommend is (having and) checking your dreams’ board. That will probably be more powerful and bring you some creative energy that you could use to start the work.
3 – If nothing has worked so far (which would be rare, I usually would use just one of all these items) I visit a very dangerous place: Instagram. However, I’m not talking about refreshing endlessly the feed or go stalk your favorite artists; I’m just talking about using your likes and saved instas to get you back to a moment you felt inspired. Because I will usually save a picture when it tells me a story or makes me feel a special something which I know may be useful my future uninspired me.
4 – Similar to the previous one, I often take screenshots of things I like or things I could use in the future. It’s also a good moment to check them. I must confess I usually forget about them so they sometimes are, at the least, a surprise.
5- Have you been too hard on yourself? Then it’s time to go over the old photos of travels and let my your life (and gratitude for it) be your inspiration. In the same way, I may revise my old sketches. That’s wonderful, because there might be an old drawing there deserving of some improvement.
“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”— Charles Brower
A writing problem
If it’s too hard to craft a new post, there’s hope too.
1 – Take an old post of yours and see what’s missing. Could that become a new post?
2 – I have this wonderful app called Keep, by Google, in which I jot down any idea I get at any time. When you are experiencing a block, it’s a great time to go check it.
3 – Stop and reflect. What has been going on in your life? Or to the people around you? Could something of that be transferred to your blog? What story could you tell and link to your theme? Asking questions is always a good way to start.What strategies do you have to get inspiration or dropping aside procrastination?
Have you ever read an article of books recommendations of books that the critic haven’t yet read?
Well, lucky me, I’m just a designer and not a critic!
A post on books again… just because they’re one of my loves!
Well, it is for a few reasons in fact:I enjoyed reading and learning this way since my early school years and because I need to do something to relax and avoid loosing my mind on the internet in these cosy too-cold-for-my-taste winters. Also, my boyfriend likes to watch an episode before sleeping and not of one my favourite series… so it’s perfect to have an engaging book to read at the same time.
So, one afternoon I went to dive into the deepness of the Internet to make a selection of some books. I had just finished reading #Girlboss by Sophia Amouroso so I started from there to find similar products. To do so, I usually go to goodreads or just amazon. There I look up for similar titles and themes or make a new search. If I find something that sound interesting I’ll add the book to my wishlist or want-to read list. That way, when I feel like buying a book I just have to go to those lists and shop, knowing exactly what I want.
For today’s selection, I chose mainly books written by women who happen to be entrepreneurs too.
A few pages in and I’m completely hooked up on this. The author has a clear and engaging voice with a nice sense of humour. I’m devouring it. This book is written to help any freelancer or wannabe in any industry. Even though, Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer (a fact usually present on books about x, you know, because they have to be written by someone… who usually happens to write). But it looks good, very good.
As the title says, a book for women entrepreneurs. The author started out writing a blog and from there published several books and became a coach. This book is still in the business side but with a focus on the mindset that will be useful for women in business.
“ it will teach you how to build confidence in yourself, reconnect with your “why,” eradicate jealousy, and ultimately learn the power of connection”
What else can I say? I’ve only read the introduction 😅
I don’t know if you’ve heard about #Girlboss or read it, but if you do, this one is kind of similar… To where I’ve read. In the fashion industry, very focused on techniques and advice to get a job. In Girlboss it seemed that Amouroso would teach about how to make your own empire, but she more accurately advise on how to be and apply to become part of Nasty Gal, her business. In Leave your mark, the goal is not to get into a business in particular but more about landing your job.
Though, there is more to it. The author got some amazing results from using social media and she will share her secrets with you. So I’m skipping some chapters of how to land the job of your life (because I prefer freelancing and I’ve read enough about the standard way to get a job) and jumping into social media. More I can’t tell you, I’m on it, but I promise to make a follow up post or just update this one.( So keep your eyes peeled for it! ).
I must confess, looking at the outside, this one seems kind of boring. The foreword is by Erik Spiekerman so it kind of gives me some reference and hope. From this early part of the book I would like to share the following sentences :
“Clients need to understand that they’ve hired us to do something they are not good at. And that they need to pay us for our knowledge, skills, experience and, yes: attitude. ”Erik Spiekerman
Getting to the index, I notice that it may not be a boring book about the fundamentals of design at all. In fact, is the “formal” guide to being a graphic designer in freelance mode. Will it share some new perspective on my job? I do expect it to do so, and specially, what the author tells in the introduction:
“You will have more confidence in yourself and a deeper understanding of your craft.” Mike Monteiro
I know I know… This recommendation doesn’t go much on line with the other books… But it’s always good to get some help that motivates you and not just gives you advice. So a bit of self-help to make the path to solopreneur sweeter.
I’m sure you’ve heard about The Secret. I saw the movie when it came out and have rewatched it several times. I have read the last book, Hero, which I love. But have pending the Power, which I’ll be reading right away, and The Magic, which I’ll try to get for Christmas! 😉🎄 This book comes to be an extension and progression of The Secret, adding stories and knowledge.
What are some books in your want-to-read list? Let me know in the comments!
Long days pass on through my studio’s windows, while my hands move quickly over paper and keyboards.
I wander on paths of woods in the warm afternoons and the streets of imaginary cities on my mind indistinctly.
I am a free soul.
My fingers dance over four strings while I relax at the sound of my ukulele, inspiring dreams of a surf trip to Hawaii.
Time is nothing but a shadow in the wall. The air is filled with the fragrance of a thousand flowers.
Sunsets spill waves of gold over the mountains and the sea is transformed into countless pieces of mirrors that show us another sky.
Drops of paint run quickly over the canvas, water deforming the shapes, the brush redrawing them and the voice of Lana del Rey bringing melodies of old dreams.
I am a free soul.
The only rules I know are those I build, the only schedule the routines I create.
All I know is the world I live in, the fresh air from up north, the breaking waves of my surfing spot, the chirping of birds when I wake up and the silence of the night.
Plenty of people populate my world; more than I’ll ever meet, some more than those who know my name, strangers who one day may become friends.
The smell of old books fill cosy afternoons by the fire while others are spent on unknown places that resemble galleries and airports.
Routine is always broken by adventures: long walks and climbs, surf trips to catch the next best wave, road trips that take us to beautiful landscapes and open our minds to new realities… nights under the stars and travels over the waters.
My work is all I’ve been doing naturally since I started doing things for myself. It brings pleasure to me while giving pleasure to others.
It was hard to realise that life would be whatever I decided to do with it. But then everything started falling into place.
There’s never perfection but fate comes always with perfect moments. Patience has always been my worst enemy thought in the end always becomes the best friend of the artist.
A creative soul lies within. Glimpses of it can be seen through gentle eyes. Everyone has a piece of it, all of us can watch our magic.
But no magic is greater than life has in itself. And to experience it may be our only mission.”
How should an artist’s lifestyle look like to you?
How do you imagine the perfect lifestyle of a creative life? What is your ideal routine? What is the life you dream of?
Need more? Let me send you a recap of all links at the end of every month:
I’m sitting in my sofa, a blanket over my legs, the last lights of the afternoon entering smoothly through the window. A cool breeze is petting the trees outside and dark clouds are moving fast towards the town, above the mountains. I’m reading a book and I’m fully immersed in the words.
That, for good or bad, has been a recurring scene in my life. Books have always been a good companion of my, may they have been just readings for entertainment or study. Whatever I’m interested in the moment, I’ll look for new perspectives in books.
So when I had made my mind clear that I wanted to pursue a creative career, preferably as an artist and my own boss, I started looking for books that could inspire, motivate and teach me a way. Books for creatives. And, of all of them, I’m bringing you a list of the ones more relevant.
But this is more than a list. Because as I’m getting used to highlighting I though it would be great to share some of my favourite quotes with you. (If you like what you read, maybe you could ask for some of these books this xmas… 😉 )
My selection of books for creatives
1- (a combo) Show your work /&/ Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon is an artist and writer. In his first book, Steal like an artist, he talks about having references while working and how it is ok to “copy” to learn or get inspired to develop your own work. As this one is interesting, I found much more useful the Show your work book. Basically it talks about what the title says : how and why you should share more of what you’re doing like an artist and how that can help you, your process and your success building an audience. These books are like the business side of the creative life.
Want to have a look inside? Here are some of my favourite quotes of Kleon’s books. You can also visit his site and blog to find out more.
– “Once a day, after you’ve done your day’s work, go back to your documentation and find one little piece of your process that you can share. Where you are in your process will determine what that piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned. If you have lots of projects out into the world, you can report on how they’re doing—you can tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.”
– “Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”
– “If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.”
– “What do you do? What are your ‘recipes’? What’s your ‘cookbook’? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional?”
– “If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector. The writer Blake Butler calls this being an open node. If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice.”
– “Work is never finished, only abandoned.” —Paul Valéry”
– “My interest in making music has been to create something that does not exist that I would like to listen to. I wanted to hear music that had not yet happened, by putting together things that suggested a new thing which did not yet exist.” —Brian Eno”
– “We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice. And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you.”—Francis Ford Coppola”
– “ The writer Wilson Mizner said if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research.”
– “First, you have to figure out who to copy. Second, you have to figure out what to copy.”
– “You start out as a phony and become real.” —Glenn O’Brien”
– “Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell youthe truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”– “It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.” —Mark Twain”
– “Google everything. I mean everything. Google your dreams, Google your problems. Don’t ask a question before you Google it. You’ll either find the answer or you’ll come up with a better question.”
– “Whether I went to school or not, I would always study.” —RZA”
– “The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done.”
– “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” —Gustave Flaubert”
– “If you ask yourself ‘What’s the best thing that happened today?’ it actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection that pulls up from the recent past things to write about that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. If you ask yourself ‘What happened today?’ it’s very likely that you’re going to remember the worst thing, because you’ve had to deal with it—you’ve had to rush somewhere or somebody said “something mean to you—that’s what you’re going to remember. But if you ask what the best thing is, it’s going to be some particular slant of light, or some wonderful expression somebody had, or some particularly delicious salad.” —Nicholson Baker”
2- My second recommendation is Big magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The author of Eat, Pray, Love wrote a book about her creative process, how she sees inspiration and how she treats every step of it.
Even I don’t resonate with every chapter, there is much to it that I do like, find inspiring and empowering.So that’s what my selected quotes are about.
– “ Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
– “I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear”
– “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them”
– “Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.”
– “ I felt like I was falling in love, or had just heard alarming news, or was looking over a precipice at something beautiful and mesmerizing but dangerous. […] I believe I can confidently call it by its name: inspiration”
– “ Whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work”
– “ You can support other people in their creative efforts, acknowledging the truth that there’s plenty of room for everyone. You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
– “ You might earn a living with your pursuits or you might not, but you can recognize that this is not really the point.”
– “ I don’t know what I think until I write about it” Joan Didion
– “ Romans didn’t believe that an exceptionally gifted person was a genius; they believed that an exceptionally gifted person had a genius.”
– “… in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience”
– “ I thank creativity for allowing me to engage with it at all. Because either way, it’s all kind of amazing – what we get to do, what we get to attempt, what we sometimes get to commune with.”
– “ You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life”
– “ Most things have already been done – but they haven’t been done by you.”
– “Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart. Share whatever you are driven to share. If it’s authentic enough, believe me – it will feel original.”
– “ You are not required to save the world with your creativity”
– “ At the end of the day, I do what I do because I like doing it”
– “Your own reasons to create are reason enough”
– “ Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolutions in your heart. The rest of it will take care of itself.”
– “ If you’re working on your craft every day on your own, with steady discipline and love, then you are already for real as a creator.”
– “ When we look at your work […] we will want to feel your youth”
– “We need your work in order to enrich and inform our own lives”
– “ It’s difficult to create things; if it wasn’t difficult, everyone would be doing it, and it wouldn’t be special or interesting”
– “ Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy”
– “ Let people be in love with their opinions […] and just keep doing your thing […] The reaction doesn’t belong to you”
– “ Make absolutely whatever you want to make. It’s nobody’s business but your own”
– “Everybody imitates before they can innovate”
– “ Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.”
– “ It’s far more honourable to stay in the game – even if you’re objectively failing at the game – than to excuse yourself from participation because of your delicate sensibilities. But in order to stay in the game you must let go of your fantasy of perfection”
– “ Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents.”
– “ At the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir”
– “ You are free, because everyone is too busy fussing over themselves to worry that much about you”
– “ A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week” General George Patton
– “ The work wants be made, and it wants to be made through you”
– “ The lightly you can pass the time, the brighter your existence becomes.”
I have selected three more creative books… but I’m worried you could get an overdose of creative advice so ‘m going to share the rest next week, with the second part of this post.
In the meanwhile…
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