Every artist knows the creativity slump all too well. The Ultimate Brain Fart, “creative block.” (Dun Dun DUN!) You feel like your head is in a vice and you stare into the blank piece of your chosen medium as the theme song to The Twilight Zone echoes in the hollow shell that has now become your brain. You resort to the elementary theory of brainstorming with doodles, but the pencil screeches across your paper like nails on a chalkboard.
I finished reading Seth Godin’sThe Dip about a week ago and began to understand a concept that may seem basic, but is hard to master. The Dip (in a nutshell) is about learning when to hang on for dear life and push through a slump, and when to announce that it’s time to quit. A lot of times, it can be better to throw in the towel and know that enough is enough. Unfortunately, we creative types do not have that luxury a lot of the time. We have to push through the innovation quagmire and we have to force our next masterpiece out of ourselves. Sometimes we can get by on the seat of our pants and pull something out regardless, but there are those times where it doesn’t seem to matter how many breaks you take, how many thumbnails you pry out of yourself; nothing engages that finicky right side of your brain. Your creative sparks taunt you like a sadistic game of Whack-A-Mole in a rigged arcade.
Whether you’re in a creatively based job or not, there is something out there that inspires you. The kind of inspiration that makes you want to call out at the top of your lungs and pursue the passion regardless of how it may turn out. You could be watching Paula Dean and get inspired to bake something – who cares if it’s any good, that’s what 10 pounds of butter and cream are for. You may see a painting and run to the art store right then and there and buy as many painting supplies as your pinched wallet can handle. The kind of inspiration that makes your soul smile and gives you butterflies like the first kiss of true love.
For me, it’s music. I grew up in the music industry and could probably recite The Beatles discography in chronological order before I could walk. It was so ingrained in me from such a young age that I can’t imagine my life any differently. Art comes in a close second for me… both music and art can evoke emotions in me I never knew I’ve had. I’ve cried in front of paintings in the Louvre, and gotten full-body goose bumps when I hear a new song by one of my favorite musicians. A new piece of art in my home makes me feel like I’ve filled a hole in my very being, and new music makes me want to jump out of my skin with giddiness. That’s the kind of inspiration I’m talking about, the kind that you can’t hide from. It may take me a while, but if I throw on the right song and stare at some of my artistic “flare” posted at my station, I feel like I can conquer the world.
I was listening to a song by one of my favorite artists a few weeks back, “End of the Line” by Murder By Death, and about half way through the song, a lyric jumped out of the speakers and slapped me in the face. He talks about a dark and mysterious girl who plants bullets in a flowerpot and it grows into a tree of barbed wire. His melancholy drone and lyrics create a contrast of this sad and sinister tree still being a product of care and love. His verbal imagery breathed life into my limp brain and inspired me to create, what has begun to be, one of my best art pieces to date. It just took those few short lines to get me going until I was able to finally smack that damn mole with the sledgehammer.
So what inspires you? What gets you out of your artistic slumpage?