I need to get something off my chest in a not-so-glossy, perfectly presented and styled within an inch of its life kind of way. This is a post I wasn’t sure about publishing, because it’s not a glowingly positive one, there aren’t any words of wisdom or top five tips today, I think above all, I just need to offload and connect with some of you. So I could really do with your ear (or your eyes if I’m being pedantic) if you have a minute?
For several weeks now, without any sign of letting-up, I’ve been at the bottom of an all-consuming funk. Wish I was talking about it in the musical sense, rather than the crippling inability to find any sort of inspiration. Sure, it’s all part of the creative process and something we will all go through at times, but right now I can’t find my mojo, I am done. I’m just back from a ten day break in the south of France and I feel nothing – no amount of reading or ‘pinning’ is going to jumpstart it.
April was a ridiculously crazy month for work and I was preoccupied shooting our home for inclusion in a book coming out in September (more on that very soon) so it snuck up on me quietly in the way that it does, disguised in too much Netflix watching when I should be doing something more constructive than relaxing. In the blogging community we call it “bloggers burnout”-we all fear those phases and this for me is the worst yet. But it’s not that I’ve run out of ideas completely, it’s just that they’re not good enough or I’d just be repeating myself. My ideas are not inspiring enough, or aspirational enough or real enough. And when you’re faced with daily visual inspiration and stimulus and other people doing it already and far better than perhaps I think I ever could, I wonder what the point is. And that’s ridiculous isn’t it? The world is full of writers, stylists, designers-you name it, part of a similar vein or discipline, yet carving out their individual paths – there’s room for everyone, right?
A few weeks ago I headed to Blogtacular which I’d booked several months previously when my head was in a good and positive place, hoping to pull myself out of “this”, to rediscover or maybe even reinvent myself. During a conversation I was having with friend and designer Silkie Lloyd, she said “sometimes you just have to give yourself a break. Particularly where you are in life right now with two small children, it’s ok to give yourself permission to slow down.” She was, of course, completely right, but I was never going to do that. As my own worst critic, the inner whip-cracker is always at the back of my mind reminding me “that’s not good enough, do more, be competitive, go bigger”. After a while that mindset would break anyone. Do you ever find yourself stuck in that loathsome cycle of inactivity, whereby everything needs to be done to perfection, but perfectionist tendencies require that you never actually do because it won’t be exactly right? So then nothing gets done…
France, I thought, would be the chance to clear my head, recharge, have space to breathe and come home inspired and invigorated. One morning last week with a very nearly two year old using me as a trampoline, I woke myself up to this article on Design Sponge on ‘Finding Your Quiet: Listening To What Really Matters’. Yes, I was checking my email on holiday. As Grace described herself as a former angry driver and point-proving workaholic, I shrunk further down under the duvet as I realised that that person is me now. Every day is a rushed routine from nursery to home, work for an hour, back to nursery, the supermarket, the park, shoot something for an hour, make dinner…What is the point? What is the goal? My children have to share me with my email, an iPhone, a DSLR and whilst that’s not always the case, I feel as though it’s impossible not to when our home is my workspace and I’m doing my best to navigate working freelance with parenting. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I am just trying to do far too much all at the one time with the exact same amount of intensity and is why I’m not finding that creative flow right now. Perhaps you really do have to let go of some things in order for other areas to grow?
So that’s how it is and this is me. Quietly doing my best to keep going.
How do you cope with periods of inactivity like these? Do you just ride them out and let them pass on their own, or row against the tide? If you have the master plan, perhaps you could let me in on it…