Everyone has experienced writer's block. You know the signs: an imminent deadline, a thousand words on a subject you're vaguely interested in, and ... no inspiration. Photographers (and probably all creatives) get these blocks as well. And it's doubly-frustrating when you're a self-employed creative.
So what do I do when I encounter a creative block? Well, my tendency is to sink further into my self-created abyss. I've tried various strategies over the years, and I've found that coping with creative block basically comes down to these simple tactics:
1. Don't check Facebook. Or Twitter or Instagram. Or news websites. These are all distractions that do nothing to stir the creative juices.
2. Step away. Of course, I'm going to (somewhat) contradict what I wrote in point #1. Sometimes you need a break; in my case, I'm often on my computer editing photos, doing accounting, responding to emails, creating my marketing campaigns. It's vital to step away and do something completely different - but I argue that the "something different" should not besocial media and its immediate but short-lived high. Instead, I find that washing my car (!) or pulling weeds (!!) are the kinds of distractions that can promote mindfulness.
3. Try something new. In corporate photography it's all too easy to fall into a routine. I like to mix it up by testing new equipment or techniques - whether it's a black-and-white film noir shoot or taking travel photos with a modest point-and-shoot camera.
4. Just do the work. I often find myself thinking of the outcome of my work rather than the work itself, and perversely, this prevents me from actually doing any work. It's "paralysis by analysis." An essayist who goes by the name of "Sketch Guy" recently wrote about this in the New York Times. He observed that a writer's block can be overcome by lowering one's standards: "Correction, I do my best to not have any standards at all. I abandon my standards. I urge myself to write badly, and once I do that my fingers begin to fly, and the inner critic is powerless.” Sage advice.