Listen, we all do it. We all go through long periods of black followed by short spurts of purple, before fading back into that dreaded blackness once again.
It’s tough being a creative. Okay, if I’m being real, it’s not that tough – it’s not as if we’re giving birth to quadruplets or battling on the front lines of a great war. But by a measurement of scale, yes, it can be a little trying to find that missing creative spark we all long for that allows us to transcend from the bland and the uninspired to an all-enlightened state of imaginative nirvana.
I’m always trying to dream big, even when my brain doesn’t seem to let me. On most days, I know my responsibilities. I’ve got to wake up, slave through my nine to five, and accelerate towards the light at the end of the weekday tunnel before finding solace in front of a fireplace with a cookie and coffee in hand. No, I’m not Santa Claus, but there’s a similar magic I try to create by bridging vapid routine with the bubbling of creative energy.
We don’t have a lot of time on this Earth. I addressed that in my last post here. Because of this, we have to manage a balance of responsible and healthy lifestyle with a dedication to a dream.
One of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes is “stay hungry, stay foolish.” Sometimes, when we’re trying to achieve a goal, it’s impossible to connect the dots in the conditions we find ourselves in. The hunger might be present, but often we’re trying to outthink and outsmart a doppelganger of ourselves, making 10 moves ahead of time when time only permits 5. All these principles lead to an inefficient, ineffective working environment that is bound to stunt our creative productivity.
Environment is a big deal. Sometimes getting out and about and experiencing a change of scenery can be a significant proponent for seeing the world through a different lens. At the same time, we often find ourselves beating our heads against the same tree as we try to force a creative squeeze out of an orange that’s shit-outta juice. I mentioned routine a little earlier, but sometimes it’s totally okay to accept that the source of our inspiration may actually be hiding out in a dark cave we haven’t dared to venture before.
The other day, I rediscovered my inspiration because I took a journey down the ol’ memory lane. I decided to collate all my hard-drive backups onto a singular 4TB external drive (you’d be surprised how much space you can waste/double up on when using multiple drives!). Anyway, this meant unlocking chapters of my life that had since come and gone. Folders labeled “Simmy Music 2006” through to “Simmy Music 2018” – a glimpse into a former creative life well-lived – gave me a chance to relive some of the most memorable creative moments of my adolescence, a period clouded by rebellion, freedom, joy and expression, pain, sorrow, betrayal and anarchy. It was an insight into multiple personalities, none of which may have ever truly been the James Sismanes I believe myself to be today.
But it ignited a burning fire inside of me.
It reminded me of what I was capable of when I was committed, passionate, focused and concentrated on a singular outcome. I went from unpacking old hard-drive folders to brainstorming concepts and new abstractions in the blink of a butterfly’s eye. From here, I formulated a list to remind myself of how best to find an escape rope for the next time I’m stuck deep in a creatively-empty hole. It looked a little something like this:
It all really boils down to this: don’t ever try to paddle upstream. Instead, paddle with the flow and along the stream of the river (and watch out for boulders, rocks and other hazards!). Trust yourself, let your environment work to your favour, and dedicate some time to the “right frame of mind” approach. Inspiration arrives in many different ways, shapes and forms – inside and out – give motivation every chance to arrive at your front door and when it knocks, let it in.
That’s your dreams you’re leaving outside in the cold, after all.