Happy New Year, fellow photographers and artists! Here's to a fantastic 2024!

Hey friends, it's Bella! With the new year here, I wanted to talk about how valuable it can be to spend time in self-reflection and intentional planning for our creative goals. 

I wanted to share some of the helpful takeaways from a couple books I always love coming back to that have contributed greatly as part of my own creative journey, "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and "The Creative Act: A Way of Being" by Rick Rubin which I feel offer great perspectives for the start of a new year.

The Artist's Way found me at a time when I was on a quest to reinvigorate my creativity at the latter end of my creative burnout recovery journey (a story for another time!). I found it incredibly inspiring and I wanted to share some of the top takeaways that have stuck with me. There's so much wisdom in this book that I'll focus this blog post on the core concepts from it.

Then in my next post, I'll dive into the key insights I'm integrating from The Creative Act by Rick Rubin.

But for now, let's talk about five ideas from Julia Cameron that have been absolute game-changers for nurturing my creative spirit:

 

Creative Exercises from "The Artist's Way" -

Morning Pages: Start each day by writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness, writing to clear your mind and ignite your creativity.

This is an exercise of just getting all your thoughts, feelings, and ideas flowing out through your pen is a really powerful practice. I found Morning Pages incredibly grounding during my burnout recovery.

I know for us overthinkers, it can feel like our minds are spinning with so much inner chatter, this daily practice can provide such a great outlet to pour that energy onto the page. By externalizing those swirling thoughts, you can acknowledge them, find insights, and then let them go. I'd encourage any fellow overthinkers to give it a try. Have a journal handy to capture whatever comes up. You might be fascinated by what emerges when you give your thoughts free rein to flow!

 


Artist Dates: Set aside regular, solo dates to explore something fun or interesting. This practice nurtures your inner artist.

It doesn't have to be anything fancy. An artist date could be thrift store wandering, a hike somewhere new, or even just trying a local bakery you've been meaning to check out. The point is to treat yourself to novel surroundings and give your artistic spirit room to roam and refuel.

For me, this provides much-needed space away from work and routine. I like to visit museums or botanical gardens, taking my notebook to jot down sketches or observations about what captures my imagination. The change of scene and mental space to simply appreciate beauty and inspiration does wonders for creativity.

I recommend keeping a dedicated photography journal. It's a space for more than just notes; sketch out compositions, jot down spur-of-the-moment ideas, or reflect on your feelings about a project. This habit can be a springboard for creativity when you're seeking inspiration.


 

Walks: Take regular walks to stimulate your brain and gather inspiration from the world around you.

I totally get how hard it can be to motivate yourself for a walk. I'm right there with you! What's helped me is setting a firm alarm - almost giving myself a "walking appointment" to create that sense of urgency. Knowing I have 30 minutes blocked off to walk around the neighborhood listening to music completely changes my headspace.


Even just a brief stroll can work wonders if you're feeling burnt out or stuck. Breathing that fresh air, stretching your legs, letting your mind wander - it's amazing how restoring walks can be. I'd definitely recommend trying to build that habit. Set those walking alarms and let inspiration find you!

 

 

Recovering a Sense of Safety: Recognize and challenge limiting beliefs that hinder your creativity, such as fear of failure or criticism.

One of the biggest obstacles for creativity can be our own limiting beliefs - especially the fear of failure or criticism. But here's the thing: we're often far harder on ourselves than anyone else would be! Other people are too busy focusing on their own lives to intensely judge our work the way we do !


As artists, we have to lift that self-imposed pressure and give ourselves permission to create freely. A great practice for this is taking on monthly projects just for you - no external purpose, just the joy of photographing a fun theme or mastering a new skill.

When you fully commit to seeing a project through just for your own creative fulfillment, it helps build your confidence and quiet that inner critic. Believe in yourself, embrace the fun of making, share your work unapologetically, then simply move on to the next creative adventure. The more we create from a place of self-trust versus fear, the more our gifts can shine.

 

Reconnecting with Your Childhood Passions: Reflect on activities that brought you joy in your childhood to rediscover lost passions and interests.

This one resonates a lot with me personally - reconnecting with the passions and activities that originally brought you joy as a kid. I was always making up characters and stories, escaping into imaginary worlds. Now I somehow get to do it as a living!

If you've lost touch with what excited you early on, try thinking back to when you first started pursuing photography intentionally. What drew you in at the beginning? For many of us, it's coming full circle - returning to our earliest passions with the benefit of experience and skills gained along the journey.

I love looking at old childhood photos and remembering how everything was creatively inspiring back then. No overthinking or self-judgment, just pure curiosity and delight. We can recapture that feeling through revisiting our original inspirations.

Don't underestimate the power of tapping into your inner child-like wonder and playfulness. Finding your way back to those early passions can rekindle your spark for creating in profound ways. Keep exploring until you uncover that magical sense of joy and possibility again!

 

 

The new year is all about new beginnings. Welcome it by honoring your past efforts and laying the groundwork for an inspired future.

I hope these exercises inspire and offer some fresh perspectives to kick start your year! 

From all of us at onlythecurious, we wish you a fulfilling year of imagination and discovery!


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