Boredom. We’ve all been there. We get in a funk. What we usually see and shoot is distasteful to us. We are discontented. Everything has been done, there is no creativity left. Do you ever feel like this?
The time of year
This article will be published in the depths of winter. Many of us don’t think there is anything interesting to see or shoot. After all, there are no flowers or green trees or lush fields.
I would say, look again. Get out in it. Yes, out in the cold and snow if you have that. Or the rain and clouds. Whatever winter is in your area.
Forget what you want to be shooting. Look with fresh eyes at what is there. You may discover a whole new world. In the words of an old song, “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” While I do not recommend this as a way of managing your relationships, it can be very useful artistically.
I actually love shooting in winter. Today I was out shooting in 70+mph winds and temperatures not much above freezing. Do I love being out in that kind of wind? Not at all. When you have to bundle up in layers of wind-tight clothes and hold your tripod to keep it from blowing over, it looses some of its charm. However, there were great opportunities out there. I have, by chance, been working on a project about wind. Today was a great opportunity to fill in some gaps in the image set.
It happens to all creatives
We all feel blocked, bored, empty at times. The “muse” is not around. We fear our best work is behind us and there is nothing to look forward to. Might as well give up.
You are not alone. We all feel this sometimes. Like temperature and climate and relationships, our mental energy is cyclic. Sometimes the spark seems to be gone. It is a low time for us.
Recognize that this is a natural part of life. Don’t be (too) discouraged. It will change. The creative energy will flood us again. Just give it time.
But we don’t have to sit passively waiting for the creativity to return! Use this boredom to propel us to a new level.
If we are bored perhaps we have plateaued on our current path. Maybe we aren’t reaching far enough. It is a great time to reexamine where we are and how we feel about our art. And actually do something about it.
Boredom is frustrating to most of us. Use that! That is an energy and motivation. What are we lacking? Should we strike out in a new direction? What would we love to do if we had the opportunity?
Like with our body, if something hurts, that is a sign that we need to take care of it. Taking care of it doesn’t necessarily mean we should rest it and take a “oh, you poor thing” attitude. Maybe we need to work it, eat right, exercise, build it up.
The point is, the frustration of boredom can be a motivation to change our self or redirect ours thoughts or energy.
I have made some of the best discoveries of my life because I was bored. Really.
Let me give an example. Way back, we owned a timeshare. For those who don’t know them, it is a vacation ownership scheme that was popular at one time. Don’t buy one. It’s not a good investment. The way it worked was, you “bought” a fraction of a property, say one week during the year. Typically your ownership time would be traded for a week at another property. Because of this, we got to visit beautiful places around the world. But a side effect was that we were “planted” at a single location for the week.
This led to interesting trips. On one occasion I can think of, we were in a nice place way out in the country in Devon, England. Ten miles or more from the nearest town. It quickly got boring. As a result, we started exploring. Even though this wasn’t an area you would find featured on many tourist itineraries, the things we found were intensely interesting. We still cherish the memories.
Because of the boredom, we were led to explore with our eyes and minds open. We had to forget the expectations that were not being met and become receptive to the wonderful things that were there. Repeating this experience many times completely changed my travel style. Therefore, now I want to settle in somewhere, get to know it, and have to find out what is there.
Use boredom to your advantage
So I encourage you to let boredom be motivating. With the right attitude it can free and empower us. It can lead us to opening our eyes to our surroundings, to learning new subjects or techniques, to re-evaluating our work and making improvements, to getting out and doing something about it. Or, you can sit on the couch and feel sorry for yourself. Your choice.
The image with this article is one of many surprises we discovered on that “boring” trip to Devon I talked about above. It is a beautiful place with hidden gems all around.