Photo by Ruth Kelly
I really hate to say it... I feel like I'm on the verge of burn out. Is this even possible in February? I guess it's possible at any point. Here i am scrambling for interesting content, feeling totally exhausted with the thought of it but what i really should be talking about is inside bursting it's way out. So i thought, i should talk about just that- about 'staying inspired..' and not the type of 'staying inspired' when the sun is shining and there's beauty around, but when the carpet has been swiped from under you and life still happens and you still need to put out something creative and inspirational, how do you keep going?
An amazing perk of being self-employed is the flexibility that is inbuilt, so if i need to take a moment of recharge that's okay. However, in general, time out will start to impact the productivity and fruitfulness in my business. Content needs to be made. Jewellery needs designed. Photographs need taken and words need written. Maybe you are starting your own business or you are in a line of work that constantly needs innovation. Maybe you are renovating a home or in some kind of influencer position and need to keep it "honest, raw and real" all of the time! I feel the pain. Here are my thoughts on how to stay real with yourself and how to stay inspired when things get well... "uninspiring."
Ask yourself - can I be more organised? This is so hard because it involves hitting the storm of chaos (which can feel uneasy and a lot of effort on a human level) It's the 'gathering up' all the pieces phase, the collection of photos, the writings, the emails or whatever it is you do and need to stay inspired about and trying to formulate a system for them. For example, i use an app called Planoly for visually planning my Instagram photos and apparently it can now schedule your posts and post them for you (although i'm yet to get organised enough to make this happen cos of point in brackets above).. have you?
As a jewellery designer and brand curator, there are certain times of the business calendar I feel i have to 'produce the goods' whether it is a new design or writing it's description in an appealing- make-ya-wanna buy it way! In times like this, absorbing yourself in your work is really the only answer for me. One day i might have a team of people that can help me execute on a creative artistic level, but right now I try to be really consistent with my personal research. Creating a vision board for your work is a great idea. I use instagram and pinterest religiously when I am starting to flesh out something new but often, this really isn’t enough and can just produce prescriptive designs that really aren’t part of a deeper story i want to communicate.
Photo of the DELILAH earrings in gold and silver as i type this blog post.
Be counter-intuitive. When I’m feeling completely void of inspiration, I do the opposite of the first point. I get out of my head and completely detach myself from the work i need to do. I stop waiting for inspiration to hit. Rarely the bolt of lightning idea actually happens, but i devote myself to meaningful self-care. This is so hard once again, because is is so counter intuitive to stop and help yourself when the very thing you need to do is keep going with "the work." I would say go for a run at this point, but since i had Espen (now 10 months,) i haven't been using my work-time away from him for exercise soI generally go out for runs with him with a specifically designed “jogging buggy” and listen to a podcast that doesn’t have anything do do with fashion design. The designs that prove to be strong selling haven’t come as a result of hours on instagram scrolling "or copying you might even say" but have somehow materialised from daily life, travel and daily fuelling myself in ways that inspire and interest me. Detaching from the discipline for a time can be a great tool for reigniting the imagination. My creative outlets as a jewellery designer, writer and content creator have a cross-disciplinary element that all feed into each other and I find that taking the focus away from one of these disciplines is a great way to actually ignite it.
Inspiration is flowing to you and through you. Water is such a strong motif in this brand as the 'current' reflects the outward flow element where we give and look for ways to generous around us. Water is always moving and it's been said you can't step into the same river twice. If there is a flow of inspiration in this life and we are open, perhaps we can be the receiver that ideas can flow through? This may seem a little ‘out there’ to some, but if you believe there is something grander out there, that there is an unlimited source of possibility, ideas and creativity, then just maybe, we can tap into this flow and rather than inspiration coming ‘to’ us, it comes ‘through’ us.
A really old photo of my daughter Esmee in flow because sometimes there is nothing freer than watching a little girl dance.
Follow Your Bliss or perhaps your Blisters
Joseph Campbell’s famous phrase, “Follow your bliss” is often quoted to inspire individuals to break free of a life of mediocrity and live with authenticity. But apparently, Campbell noticed his famous phrase misinterpreted as a self-serving hedonistic permission slip to chase immediate pleasures and avoid pain (otherwise known as spiritual bypassing). Frustrated by this common misinterpretation, he remarked, “I should have said follow your blisters.” * I love the notion that to be or stay inspired i can ‘follow my bliss' but i think there has to be a certain maturity here, or else we can easily slip into a cyclical pattern of following only what makes us feel good, bypassing pain and then covering up that pain with this and that pleasure and so on.’ I think it's really important to following the inklings that guide me as a creative or following my pen as it illustrates something i don't see yet. Making time to practice those things is the hard part i guess. Once and a while, it feels great to revisit old sketch pads, make time to read and feed the soul. 'Internally, the mind becomes coarse and dull if it remains unvisited by images and thoughts which hold the radiance of beauty." (John O'Donohue ) I know that dullness too well, it's a numb ache and feels like every day is the same as the last. It takes every bit of my being to pull myself out of it when i have no reserves, but pushing though is where the grit lies and i like to think is where the sparks of inspiration lie too. Goodness, it would all be very boring if staying inspired was easy anyway? What good would our art be then?
I hope you find something useful in here, these aren't things i just employ when the going gets tough creatively, these are practices i feel i have to employ all of the time, to keep myself filled up so that when life throws a curve ball i am as charged up as possible and have the reserves to still produce creative content because sometimes ya just don't get the time-out we always need. How important is staying inspired to you?