Staying Motivated & Pushing Past Creative Blocks
When it comes to motivation, it's something you train. It's not like one day you're stronger and you're like, oh yeah more motivated than yesterday. I think it's baby steps towards it. I wouldn't feel bad if I don't feel motivation some days. I try not to beat myself up, but whenever I have a way with motivation, and they come daily, hopefully, I try to ride it and get through whatever I'm doing til the end. It's important to ride the wave. I usually use a combo of things when I'm not motivated, and it happens often, it's fine. Also, if I don't have to push that day, I'm not gonna push. I'm gonna do something else, I'm gonna go ski. If I'm in a position where I have to push, I'm gonna think about previous projects I've done and how hard they were and kind of use that energy from a finished project before, and apply it towards the new project. Its a bit abstract but, it's kind of looking back on your victories, like, oh I finished that, that time, well I can do it this ti...
me, you know, this time is no different. One very important thing for me, when it comes to motivation was to learn to love doing the hard stuff. I'm constantly training myself not to do the easy things and it's not always fun, but once you learn to love doing things that are hard, everything becomes a bit easier. It's not only one aspect where you have to be motivated, like, I'm only motivated for my work. I think it doesn't work that way. For me, it's there are certain things that are interesting, then I pick the ones that I wanna care about, and the ones that I don't wanna care about, I'm just, take them very loosely, you know. I'm not good at many things and I won't be competing in that field. If I'm going somewhere, and here is this pro road biker, well I'm not a very fast road biker, but I'm gonna go with him and I'm not trying to compete, I'm just here for the ride. But if I'm in a field where I'm good at, and there's very few fields I think I'm good at, and I'm gonna be competitive in that field because I choose to care about it and I choose to be motivated daily about that field. So, think its important to pick your battles. So, once you feel that motivation coming some days, keep going and try to ride it. It's important to keep momentum. Sometimes I'm afraid to go on a holiday for 10 days because I feel like when I come back, I lose momentum. And it's a bit silly and it doesn't happen usually, so this fear is not based on anything but I just try to keep pushing whenever I can so that I keep up momentum, it's important. The main thing that motivates me is, knowing that I'm in control of my schedule, and I've worked hard to be in control of my schedule and my life. And knowing that if some days I'm gonna be slacking, I might lose that position where I'm in control of my schedule and I'm gonna have to start worrying about other things. So, comes down to the big picture. You've worked so hard to get this thing and you're working hard to keep it going, the momentum and this end goal, which is to live your life, to design it, that really keeps me motivated daily. So, if a day I'm not feeling motivated, I'm like, oh I'm doing these emails and it sucks, I have to do them anyways because I know that steps like these get me towards my dream of living this life I wanna live. So, in the morning, I'm gonna have breakfast, I'm gonna get into my shower, and I like long showers because think good ideas come from long, hot showers, so I'm gonna stay there 20 minutes. And, it's a comfortable place, my body is, just had food, and there standing in the hot and I don't need anything else. So, my mind can wonder and I think cool ideas come from there, and I'm gonna talk about that later, but once I'm ready to end the shower, I'm gonna turn it, crank it on max cold. And in Montana, it's pretty cold, the ground is pretty cold. And I'm gonna stand there under this cold water for two or three minutes, I'm gonna back away from it and look at it. I know it's cold and it's not pleasant, nobody loves that, but walking back to it, it's kind of like a step towards training my motivation I can do daily. So, it's that good old reinforcement towards hard things. So, I come out of the shower energized and I'm like, I did it again, its not hard. So whenever I'm facing a challenge, I just think back at things like that. (airy music) I wanna talk about creative blocks and when I'm not feeling inspired. I think it's important to talk about it and I don't think enough people talk about that. It's not a fun place to be. The first thing for me is to not beat myself up. It's okay, I don't want to stress about it. I think the first step towards moving past the creative block is to accept it, accept that you're not inspired and it's okay, it happens. It's not if it's gonna happen, it's when it's gonna happen. So, at some point in your life or career, you're gonna be uninspired and hit a dead spot. I've developed a simple action plan I do. The first thing is to not stress about it and accept it. I'm just gonna put the camera away for a while, even a week, two weeks, and I'm gonna do something else. I'm gonna spend time with friends, gonna make coffee, gonna learn about cooking techniques, or anything really, I'm gonna read a book or go on a trip. And I'm not being passive about not being inspired, I think it's an unconscious process and there's ways that I can slowly bring it back, like bring back the feeling and because if you're trying to ensure that you're not inspired, I think it's gonna show, you might not see it, but people might see it, I think people have a sixth sense for that. So, for me, I like to go on, for me to bring back inspiration, I just like to go on walks without a precise goal, I just go on a walk and look at stuff and think about things. Watching movies, reading books also helps. Also, going on long drives, I'll just go on a drive somewhere without any goal. And the more radical approach, if you can, is to go to a different country. That's just gonna blow your mind because you're not ready for that, like all this, you're gonna be exposed to so many different things and usually inspiration comes from that when you're exposed to something that you haven't seen before. One other thing I like to do when I'm uninspired, if I wanna be proactive about it, I'm just gonna go hang out with a peer or somebody, another photographer or creative who I admire and who I like their work, and I wanna spend some time with them. I'll just even go on a trip with them and watch them work and see what they shoot, and I just learn a lot. It's a new way of seeing things and that usually sparks something inside of me and I go, wow you can do it that way, you can look at that, I've never thought about that. And then, when I go back home, I'm like fresh and just ready to hit the road again. One super extreme way I found to deal with creative blocks is, to do brain storms. And I'll even do them before projects, but the best places for me to brainstorm is, the shower, or my bed, or on a walk. And I'm gonna try to go through every possible scenario, every possible part about the idea I'm trying to get and let it flow, and then when I go back home, or go back to a desk, I'm gonna write down every idea I had, in a non related way. And there's a lot of videos you can watch about brainstorming, but for me, it's really location specific. I'm like, okay I'm going into a sauna, and I'm gonna brainstorm, I'm just gonna think about thinking, if that makes any sense. I'm gonna think about having ideas and I just go through a different array of topics in my head until one sticks, and I'm gonna develop that one. I just went through the techniques that I use, but the bottom line really is, you shouldn't beat yourself up about this creative block, don't feel bad about it. These are my techniques, this is what I do, but try to come up with your own things and try to balance ideas with friends about how they do it. We all have different ways of dealing with it, but the bottom line is, don't stress about it, don't feel bad about it, cause the more you feel bad about it, the more it's gonna last. So, you wanna be a freelancer. Well, think twice because it's not for everybody. Sure, you might romanticize about it, you might think that all we do is sit around or we travel the world enjoying good coffee, but the hardest working people I know, are freelancers. So, you gotta be ready to put in long days. So, before you go ahead and quit your day job, and dive head first into the freelance life, try to just stick your toe in it, try to do half time maybe, Half time day job, half time freelance, and see if you like what you're seeing. Once you quit you're job, it's gonna be a different world. It'll be different how you meet people, you won't have a work environment. You need to be to be the master of your own schedule. You need to be self disciplined, self motivated. You won't know when your next paycheck's coming, you'll just be in the land of uncertainty all the time, you'll be second guessing what you're doing. And for some people, that's just not what they wanna do. So, determine how bad you want this. I didn't have time for this myself. Years ago, I just moved to Vancouver, BC and I had no money, and I was working at a furniture store selling sofas just like this one, to wealthy people. At the same time, I was going around every office building in town, telling them about my work and telling them to hire me. So, I was doing freelance and also selling sofas, which comes down to the same thing really, you're selling something. But, it's only when I got enough paying clients on the photography side, that I quit that job and I did it because I loved what I was doing in freelance. But, also the trap is that you might wanna keep this situation going forever. So, it's not gonna be easy to cut the cord because you're making money on your day job, your freelance job is not stable always. So, at some point, if you wanna do it, you might have to just cut the cord and quit that day job. That's not too bad, you can always find the job back at least, so, you can take the chance. But it's important to have a group of friends that are there to support you. So, for me, it was actually Rashad and Maurice, my business partners now, who really encouraged me to do it, just quit that job and do it. I kinda needed that pep talk, you know, so ask your friends what you should do. Some words on competition; try to not see everybody in your field as a competitor. They are, throughout the day we're all competing for jobs, but having a loving and healthy relationship with these people, is far better for the industry and even for you. It's more valuable to share every information you have about each client with them. So, keep everything really open, it'll just work in your favor. You might wanna share budget with them, how much money you made on that job, that's fine. Share also, contacts. Hey, if your friend wants to work for that brand and you know them, introduce them. It doesn't mean that you're gonna lose a job and the other brand's not gonna like you, you both can work for that brand, it's okay. So, just really, don't try be too protective and be an open book. That the reason I'm doing this workshop.