Aaron and I had a chat recently about lulls in creativity. As a musician he was mentioning that he's currently finding himself lacking motivation to create new songs. I commiserated, because this is a true and valid feeling for everyone, and then told him what I have learned after years and years of embarking on creative adventures:
It always comes back. Always.
He laughed and shrugged and I said, "No, really, it comes back."
My suggestion to him, which is what I generally do when I find myself lacking creative motivation, is to do some of the other tasks on his list that are related to his creative pursuits.
No one is creative all the time. No one is "in the groove" all the time. There are waves and seasons and reasons. Embrace that time and use it to your advantage by tackling tasks that are related to your creative endeavor or hobby.
For memory keepers doing something else (outside of working on a project) might include:
- ORGANIZING PHOTOS: I open up my photo management program and delete photos that are duplicates or generally update my organizational structure. This generally motivates me because I "see" new stories as I go through my photos and I often find myself grabbing my Story Planner and jotting down notes for when I'm ready to actually tell the stories. Sometimes I even print out enlargements at that time using my Epson SureColor P400 printer or my Canon MG7720 printer so that the photos will be ready when I'm feeling creative.
- PURGING PRODUCTS OR CLEANING OFF YOUR WORK SPACE: Going through the products I have on hand and donating the ones that don't inspire me any longer motivates me as I remember cool things I've collected that I'd forgotten about and this task also usually sparks stories as I go through the products. Be careful with this one as organizing your products can end up being one of those tasks that starts to be the only thing you do related to memory keeping. Ask yourself what's your reason why for wanting to tell stories and work on getting back to that core value.
- TELLING STORIES VIA ANOTHER AVENUE UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO BRING IT ALL TOGETHER: Don't forget that Instagram is a great memory keeping tool for holding stories until you have the time/energy/motivation to put them into a project. You can also adopt my philosophy of "starting with story" and literally just write out some of the stories that you might want to later incorporate into a layout or other project. If privacy is a concern you can always have keep a private account just for holding your stories.
- PRINTING PHOTOS: As you might remember, I often print my photos for Project Life® in batches. I sit at my computer with my album in front of me and print as many weeks as I can and slip into the pockets right then (this process will look a little different for 2019 - more on that later this month). Printing a bunch of photos at once that are going directly into my album allows me to be working on a piece of the overall process even if I'm not really into the creative part of finishing up the week at a certain time (this also works great if you are crunched for time - it's actually amazing what can be done in 10-15 minute chunks of time).
- REVIEW PAST PROJECTS: I'm editing this post and adding this in because I think it's definitely worth including in this list. I know for me, looking back through my past projects is a great way to remember my reason why. I see the photos and I read the words and I remember the value that comes from personal storytelling. So worth it.
These tips are also great suggestions for coming back into the habit of memory keeping. The hope is that by participating in these kinds of supporting activities you'll eventually get motivated to get back to putting the projects/layouts/etc together. If you don't find yourself motivated, don't despair. You might want to take some time to look at your entire process and see which piece is actually frustrating you the most and brainstorm ways to adjust that in order to bring back the fun and the love of the overall process.
Remember that memory keeping, like many things we undertake, is a practice. It's a practice of paying attention, of capturing stories from the past and the present, of taking photos, of listening to your life, and of doing the work by bringing it all together into something you can hold in your hands.
Or just take a complete break.
There are also defintiely times when I just take a break from it all and do something else entirely that I enjoy. For me that often includes reading, working in my yard, taking a shower or bath, getting together with friends - essentially inhabiting my life. Those kinds of complete breaks are essential for our creative spirits as it offers us an opportunity to think about other things. It's often when thinking about completely different subjects when ideas may pop to mind and all of a sudden you'll find yourself excited about memory keeping again.
You've got this.