There is truly nothing worse for an artist for when they are stuck in the mud and can’t move forward with their work.  Various life elements come into play.  Working as a professional freelance contractor, this happens more often, the longer you stay in the game.  So how do you ‘unstuck’ your creativity?  I battle with this myself and want to share my experience with you.

Almost once a year I’ll come up with a new project to focus my attention and energy on.  Something I put all my eggs into one basket.  An idea that I invest all my professional time, money and resources believing in the new direction of my creative work and business.  It’s taxing.  Starting from scratch with a new focus or idea, even with the most research and packaging, doesn’t alway result in what you expect it to become.  Either your direction gets taken in a way you didn’t expect or the return isn’t greater than the reward.  Either way, you need to pull up your boot straps and keep moving on!

Taking chances as a freelancer has been risky for me.  I isolate myself to prepare all the marketing assets I need to help sell my idea.  Last year alone I spent learning about new technology in my field, but was not able to sell my new platform.  It was taxing on my mental health, big time.  When you sacrifice your health and relationship for the goal of achieving or creating a new identity for yourself, I ask myself, why am I doing this?

I have been a dreamer my whole life.  For better or for worse, I believe in my dreams and ideals.  But so many other factors come into play before your dreams may come true.  Timing, persistence, patience, luck.  And all those things may work against you.  I listen to famous people say things like “don’t give up on your dreams”.  It can be tough.  But something I have learned the hard way is, you can’t do it on your own.

Support in all areas of your life are essential.  I personally hide away to avoid distraction from life so to work and be productive on my goals.  Not everyone will understand your process or sacrifices.  But keep your support system close.  You’ll need them when you things don’t go your way, and you’ll want their love when things work out in the end too.

My cousin and I cutting deals over juice.

One of my failures is not setting distinct goals and milestones.  I come up with ideas, research and package them so well, yet my only goal is to get paid for the projects, ideas, services and materialization of my ideas.  But getting paid represents more than financial success, it signifies that someone believes in what you have to offer.  Acknowledgement and affirmation.  What other factors keep you inspired?  What keeps you going?  What is your daily motivation to keep moving forward?  The answer is different for everyone.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with.  This thought scares me sometimes as there people I love for different reasons.  I like people with bold character traits who wear their individualism on their sleeve.  These types can be exciting to be around, but may not always live, work or share the same life or career passions or drive than you have.  I have some lazy friends who are great people, but I worry they may slow me down.  I believe life is all about balance, love, respect and communication.  Elements not easy to achieve but essential to peace and happiness.  Some of the most successful people you may cross, don’t always have the time to be your best friend.  I believe in mentorship.  I believe in helping people the same way people help me.  We can’t always be taking from each other, energy exchange must flow in and out.  What you give is what you get.  Or so they say!

To say “think positive thoughts” doesn’t always come so easy.  When life gets in the way, how can you create or be productive for that matter?  I believe in routine.  Creating a lifestyle that is conducive to results.  Once I turned 30, health and fitness were top of mind.  My thought train was, exercise to have more energy to be more productive to make more money.  Low and behold, I ‘unstuck’ myself.  Making small changes and sticking to them, was everything.  We don’t have to be so extreme with our diets, purchases, commitments or otherwise to help ourselves.  People give up eating certain foods, or quit drinking or purchase a large fitness program in hopes of their life changing over night.  Newsflash, nothing happens over night!  You can start something over night, but it’s only just the beginning.  Your commitments will dictate your outcome.

Caution: forcing a smile can result in a real smile.

Health, fitness, mentorship, setting goals and asking for help are part of the process to making any big changes in your life or career!  It’s a lot of responsibility, which is why most people don’t go out on their own.  After a decade of self-employment, I see the appeal of working for someone else.  Stability to build a life and family.  But really, the grass is always greener.  What you don’t have always seems more appealing.  So don’t compare!  Comparing your life to others will only get in the way of your success.  Trust me, I still struggle with this today.

For over twenty years I have battled with my mental health and depression.  It’s something that being self employed, gets in the way of my success.  It gets so bad sometimes that I’ll start to hate anyone I know who has found success in their field.  I’ll have days where I am so exhausted from being stuck after pursuing my passion for so long, only to feel like I am so behind a younger generation that has creeped up with a following that half these kids have online.  The FOMO over success seems to be such an empty pursuit.  Some of the most successful people can feel so alone.  Why is that?  Is it the sacrifices they have made in their personal lives?  I see a mix of both.  I hear people who win awards thanking their “…family who believed in them…” which tells me all I need to know about their support system.  Growing up in an environment that supports your beliefs is a beautiful place to come from, but we’re not all that lucky!  Luck does play a part in success, but not without consistency.  Most success comes after years of hard work.  My personal issue is that I change my target more often than not, making it hard for me to see success on any given idea, project or pursuit.  My skills and my practice is all I know.  I picked up the camera when I was 15.  I’m 37 today as I write this.  I’ve been shooting for over 20 years and in business for over 10.  It’s been a career of shooting on film, tape to memory cards.  A world that now everyone is a photographer and content creator, changing the value of what I offer.  The general public seems to have a hard time paying for creativity, which is why finding your niche is so important!  People want to put you in a box so they know who to ask for and for specifically, what you have to offer.  There are certain things you can’t fight, so go with the flow and adjust accordingly.

You’ll know when you’ve found your purpose when you’re happy in the zone doing what you love.

So my advice to anyone who is stuck and can’t find the creativity they are looking for, I recommend starting with any of the flowing tips:

  • keep a healthy routine
  • start new routines
  • exercise often
  • surround yourself with positive, inspired people
  • ask for help
  • seek new resources
  • mentor and be mentored
  • try new methods of practice and approach to your practice
  • set distinctive goals that aren’t just monetary
  • support the communities in which you wish to be supported by
  • mediate, practice breathing techniques
  • write down your thoughts, especially your negative ones, clear out those cobwebs!
  • self care.  make good life choices.  make small, daily changes in your life

This post was partially inspired by my readings of The Artist’s Way.

The good news is, the world keeps turning and not everyday is the same.  The universe will respond to you making choices each day.

Lastly, I can’t stress enough about community and self care.  Surround yourself with good people who bring you up and raise your frequency!  Take a look around at the people in your life and consider who lifts you up and who brings you down.

Even in the darkest of moments in life, there is light to be had and I am living proof that we can all obtain a level of happiness that we deserve.  We just have to believe in it.  Give yourself time to be down, sad, lost and stuck in your creative path.  Then one day, get back on that horse and do again what makes you happy.

Get in touch with your inner child. That’s where you’ll find your gold.