The Pressure is On

Titi er søsteren til Clara

Do you sometimes find yourself running out of new ideas? I think it happens to all of us who are engaged in creative work. Of course to a greater or lesser degree. I see artists who seem never to run up against the wall, they just appear to be a cornucopia of sparkling ideas. Still, I am sure it happens to them, too, from time to time, the pressure of coming up with something new. Certainly I happen to go there myself – particularly after an intense period of creative work after which I might fall completely apart while thinking I will never come up with something as good as this again. And then slowly the sparkle ignites again.

This pressure of coming up with something new is very much related to what I wrote in my posts about being in flow – or more precisely not being in or finding that flow (se the posts Finding Flow and In the Heat of Flow). Carrie (Nienierza) commented about this pressure in my post Set Sail almost a year ago. She wrote: «After each blog I think how can I possible come up with something new as I hate to repeat anything. But just while taking a walk the other day and my mind was free to run creative thoughts through it with the image of some photos I had taken already and suddenly I could see the words start to come to me. It’s often when I relax and let go of the pressure to get a blog out that one comes to me.»

The interesting thing is there is never a shortage of creative sparkles – if we only don’t put ourselves in that corner of not believing in it and by so doing cutting ourselves off from our creative well. We get so uptight about having to find something completely new, that it drives us blind. We put the pressure on ourselves and feel we are running on empty. Carrie shows one way to get around the issue: By letting go. If we don’t force ourselves to make something spectacular, but just sit down or go out on the street (or whatever we do when we create), do the creative work and letting go of any aspirations or ambitions, then the new idea might just show up by itself. Often the thought of having to come up with something «new» makes us stall. The best thing is to let go of the pressure, as Carrie writes, and let the ideas come to you instead of forcing them to happen.

One thing is for sure; we shouldn’t get discouraged by not being able to come up with new ideas. It happens to us all – and eventually we will get out of that state of mind when suddenly the sparkles ignite again. The clue is somehow to find a way to let go of that pressure, it could be as it works for Carrie; going for a walk, or it could be something complete different, like reading a book, going to a concert or visiting a gallery. We all have different ways to deal with this pressure. How do you do it?

By the way Carrie has no less than three excellent blogs I truly can recommend to have a look at: God’s Garden of Nature, A Window to my World and Quotography by Here I Am Carrie.


64 thoughts on “The Pressure is On

  1. Nice post, and oh so accurate. Stepping back, as you suggest, to read, go to a concert or visit other blogs are a great way to ‘re-set’ and then go out and find inspiration. Very well written, excellent post.

  2. I do let go of the pressure and listen to music or my best way to relax is cycling so I do that. Sometimes taking a break from pressure works wonders and ideas start coming as soon as we relax. Great post as it concerns all of us. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week.

  3. I’m involved in a bunch of different projects all at once. Only two of them are mine. I spend more time coming up with ideas and working on projects for other people than I do on my own. The projects themselves cross a variety of fields including photography, food, music, training, writing, charity work, business and life coaching. Because each project is so unique and the range of experience so broad I try to find ways to connect all of the dots and bring the projects closer. I also try to use the various projects to benefit one another. For instance I use my photography projects to benefit the charity, music and athletic programs I am working with. I use the physical training project to benefit the referee business and life coaching projects I am working on as well. Not all ideas are meant for certain projects, but they can and often do work in others. Experiment and mix it up a little. There are no rules when it comes to creating after all!

    1. What a great way to work creatively – by being inspired by various projects and types of creative work. I am sure at lot ideas are generated across the platforms. Thanks for a very interesting comment, Shawn!

    1. Funding is something we all struggle with I believe. Most of the time I fund me own projects myself – like Cuba. Other times I try to combine making stories and getting assignment and combine whatever I get with my own projects. Sometimes I apply and get grants. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way around getting funds… Thanks for commenting.

    1. Sounds like you have a positive problem. I understand it can be frustrating, but it’s always very nice to have a plenty full of ideas. Thanks for commenting, Francina!

  4. Good article. Letting go and creating room for new ideas to emerge can be difficult. I find taking a break helps sometimes, sometimes not. My mind just goes blank and stays that way for ages! Creativity seems to come in waves for me.

  5. inspiring words that really is easy to relate to…i love the creative works you shared from blogger Carrie. beautiful and very creative. i remember one comment left by a blog reader when asked if they wanted to participate in a certain challenge. i found truth in the reply: having a deadline to meet with challenges made it all seem like work and when it felt like work, creativity diminished for that person. so true on deadlines. thanks, Otto.

    1. The interesting thing is that for some people deadlines seem to push them into creativity while for others they seem to stall all attempts. It simply works differently for different people. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Enjoyed the post. The act of walking , like Carrie, does it for me. Sometimes I wonder if there is anything new. Perhaps we just say the same things differently and in doing so find deeper perspective which we term new – just a thought.

    1. I think you are right. At least some we say the same differently and find a deeper connection or more profound way of expressing us. Thanks for commenting, Don!

  7. I know I can get very easily bored and the commonest reason for me to dry up and run out of creative ideas is because I don’t get out of my immediate area – I’ve lived and worked in the same place since 1976. If I get away from here, and it really doesn’t matter where it is so long as it is away from ‘home’, then I will start to find images. Too long in one place and I really start to run out of ideas.

    1. There is something very inspiring about getting to new places, isn’t there?! For me it’s even more when I get into routines I start to lose my creative sensibility. You may have lived and worked in the same place a long time, but it seems like you get around nonetheless. Thanks for the comment, Andy!

  8. I used to get so upset when this happened, but now I realize that it is part of the process, and more importantly part of growth.

    I know I’ve said it before, but please realize how very much I enjoy and appreciate your posts, Otto.

    1. Thank you, Lisa, and I appreciate you encouragement very much. As to down periods I think we are much more likely to get back quicker if we realize like you say that it’s just part of the process.

  9. Worry takes one deeper into the hole. One has to try and distract the mind from the task at hand. By “letting go” we can reduce the stress and strain of anxiety produced by the pressure. For me gardening and walking in nature carry me into a peaceful state of repose. My mind relaxes and is transformed little by little. Otto, you made some good points and raise questions, which are not always easily solvable. Everyone has to develop their own methodology that works for them. Also, it may be a different action and effort each time.

    1. Yes, we do have to develop our own strategies to handle dry season, creatively speaking, but I think we certainly can get ideas from one another. Like gardening sounds like a great way to letting go. Thanks for sharing your experience, Sally!

    1. I have made it a routine to write down ideas when ever they pop into my brain. If not I might forget them when I have time to follow through. I simply use my cell phone which I mostly have with me all the time, to write down whatever pops into my mind. Thanks for the comment, Michelle!

  10. Interesting post, Otto, and it helps me to know that even professionals like you have these moments. For me, a newbie at all of this, it’s been good to just step away from the computer more than anything else; that’s where I feel the pressure sometimes, in getting something down for a post that might be interesting for others. I was getting to that place with my camera for the first time too recently, and I left it sitting on a table for a long time….we both needed a rest. Taking myself to places filled with art, be it a museum or outside n nature, lifts my spirits and revives the “flow”.

    1. Well, of course, we all experience moments of dry summer. But it’s good you have found ways to burst the creativity again. Thanks for sharing your experience, Angeline!

  11. It can be so difficult. So many times I’ve come up with something only to find that someone else had the exact same idea. I have to start all over again because its so important to me to have ideas and out put that at least appear original.

    Sometimes I yield criticism for finally coming up with something — even just an approach, that no one else seems to have thought of. “It’s too complicated!” I’m told. “You’re overthinking it, keep it simple!” After all it took to come up that much uniqueness, you bet I’m going to ignore them.

    1. I think we should look less to what others do and certainly less to what others say. It’s our own heart we need to follow. I believe that even if somebody else has had the same idea (it’s actually very difficult to come up with something completely genuine new) we will execute the creative act differently and thus make something quite different that any others might have done. Thanks for the comment, Allan!

  12. I just write…but it is hard coming up with a blog every week. I will only write on photography –
    My blog on photography begins its life as a column in a small town news paper and I must send the editor my column every Thursday. Then I republish my column (and add several more pictures since the paper only requires one) on Saturday.
    Writing keeps me thinking.
    I enjoyed reading “The pressure is on”.

  13. I think that “letting go” is the only way for creativity to come to me, Otto. Sometimes I’m in a yoga class, and as it winds down and I’m relaxed, I’ll suddenly have an idea, or words will start to come to me that weren’t apparent to me when I walked in, or maybe even something entirely different–I’m relaxed, and I don’t want to produce, I just want to be quiet and enjoy the stillness. Rest then brings a creative spark that I can draw from another time. I do know it can’t be forced. Stress of any kind really suppresses my creative spirit!

  14. Hi Otto — I think wondering “what’s next” is the mantle all creative types must bear. But of course it’s a good thing, and highly addictive, or we would walk away! It’s a pull — to create. The stopper is the editor inside us. I am at my best, creatively, when I am free. This line, “And then slowly the sparkle ignites again” was beautiful. And from seeing your work, I do think that sparkle is something you can count on, again and again. 🙂

    1. I hope we can all count on the sparks, but it does go up and down. But you are right, being creative is very addictive so hopefully it will push us over the hill when things are slowing down. Thanks for the comment, Melissa!

  15. Excellent post. Let me add that I find just using the tools to be inspiring. For photography, I will just take the camera, choose a (prime) lens and an aperture, and try to find something that fits. That usually gets me going. For writing, I’ll just try to add a few sentences to a project. That usually leads to a few more sentences–and sometimes to new ideas.

    1. Getting started is halfway through, isn’t it? I like you approach, sounds so easy, although I know for myself it isn’t always that easy. Thanks for sharing your experience, Dan!

  16. I’m in concert with your thoughts, but I do think that the desert of creative dryness can be (or seems to be) very large sometimes. Crossing it can be work and that effort consumes us easily. On the other hand, sometimes that crossing can be the journey to more than a temporary oasis of creative freedom and expression; it may well lead into a fertile place and we have gained insight from that hard journey. That might be the ideal, but often without struggles we may not grow very much at all. I like how you have addressed this several times. You are taking good care of your blog friends and I certainly appreciate your helpfulness and candor. Your photo is creative and honest. I like the feel of it.

    1. I like your metaphor of crossing a desert, because sometimes it’s just like that. It’s hard to get across, but the reward might be very fulfilling. Thank you for your great comment, Phil!

  17. Wonderful post-thank you Otto. I love the phrase “creative sparkles” that paints a very lovely image in my mind. I know for me, I have to be careful to let those “slow” periods happen-sometimes the well just needs replenishing and I have really had to learn not to rush things, if nothing happens. But talking walks, playing with dogs, sometimes even walking by a shop window can be enough to get me thinking ‘what if . . . ” It is an ongoing struggle to be sure to know when to leave alone and when to push . . . gently back into the creative space.

    1. The more experience we get, the more we know when to push and when to leave. And sometimes it’s just the opposite. The creative muse is not always very predictable, is she? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Meg!

  18. As suggested in this post, Otto, when I feel that anxiety to come up with something, I remind myself to just let go, and then sure enough, the images come to me, even though I may have to wait days for them. It suits my style of photography, and that’s why I coudn’t keep up a photo every day series. I have much admiration for those who can do it in a meaningful way, though.

    1. I think 365 is a good practice – if you only take it as an exercise and not worry too much about the result. I did it long time ago, it was fun, but yes, also stressful. Thanks for your comment, Andrew!

  19. Every weekday, without fail, since Nov. 1, 2010, I have had to come up with one of my own photos, an interest-grabbing title, and a humorous caption for my photoblog. In the early days, when I didn’t have much of an audience, coming up with new ideas was actually harder than it is now, not because I am better at it (although practice does help), but because I am driven by my audience, which is nearing 500 subscribers plus additional visitors each day. The knowledge that so many people are going to look in their inbox every weekday for my latest post is a HUGE responsibility. My struggle is not with discipline; it’s with maintaining a high standard for my posts, making sure that I don’t post anything that doesn’t amuse ME.

    My happiest moments in life are when I am creating my posts, when I am in my creative zone, when I am anticipating the feedback I’ll get. Without a doubt, my blog is the “funnest” thing I’ve ever done. Sure, there are weeks when coming up with posts is a chore, but my faithful followers and commenters always energize me.

    1. I am impressed by your commitment, John. The way you feel responsible for your readership certainly puts some pressure on your shoulders to post quality on your blog. And the result is really a great blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  20. When I recently felt as though there was nothing new I could do, I started carrying my journal with me on my walks so I could sit down and write whatever came to mind. That seems to be another way of letting go, and it’s helped a lot. 🙂

    1. I think it’s a splendid idea. I use my cell phone to write down anything that comes to mind whenever it happens. It’s away of not forgetting new ideas. Thanks for sharing your experience, Robin!

  21. Merry Christmas Otto, What a crazy time that I show up here. Christmas Eve and was just googling my name and found it here. Thought I had commented and when I couldn’t find the comment I read your post and your references to me. Somehow I had missed this blog. Thank you so much. I am struggling right now to get some posts together again. Been so busy also, but just reading what you wrote and reminding myself not to put the pressure on I know it will flow when I need to let it go. I have been so busy being creative with ECards for Christmas that I share on my facebook page so though I have not been blogging I have still been busy with my photos. Just wanted to come by this very late Christmas eve and thank you for all the times you have spurred my creativity in you photos, thoughts and words that you share. Will be heading south for the rest of winter soon and won’t have interent, but will keep on clicking and post when I can. So Happy New to you as well and may your creativity always flow. Here I Am Carrie

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