It's a new year — time for a fresh start. Welcome to our 15-day series on how to fall (back) in love with your blog. The series is all about stepping back, re-evaluating things and making sure you're still connecting with your blog. Here's what you won't find in this series: articles on analytics, plug-ins, sponsored content, ad networks and the like. What you will find is tips and strategies to stay inspired, motivated and pushing your own boundaries, all while loving what you do.
It happens to all of us. We fall into a rut. Everything we do feels the same. Our interest wanes. Nothing excites us or grabs our attention. We dial in our blog posts. Or, we drift off and wander away from our sites.
Nothing inspires us. The world looks a bit grey. In other words, we're in a funk. Or worse, we're burned out.
Burnout is real. If your blog is your hobby, you have the opportunity to step back from it for a bit. But when creating is how you earn your living, it can be dangerous and impact your ability to run your business.
The good news?
It happens to everyone (well maybe that's not good news exactly ...). It's also avoidable. And treatable!
Go With The Flow
Creativity runs in cycles. It's mad rushes of excitement, followed by the drive to realize your creative visions, a ton of hard work and then ... pfffft ... the air runs out. It usually, but not always, happens at the end of a big project.
But the one thing that people who have created for years know, and learn to trust, is that the cycle is just that ... a cycle that continues. The inspiration and creative burst will return. Photographer David duChemin much more eloquently likens it to a wave that crests; the important part is what you do when the wave drops. (I strongly recommend you read the article if you're new to this wave or struggle with the creative process.)
Artists often refer to this point in the cycle as "filling the well." Regardless of what you call it, recognize that this is normal. You can fight the downtimes or you can go with the flow and use those times to refill and replenish your creative energy — and probably end your creative block sooner.
Go Play Outside
For real. Go. Out. Side.
Mother Nature is the world's greatest artist. She's got it going on. She knows how to create colour palettes, how to put textures together, how to make little baby things grow. There's literally beauty all around you when you step outside your door. Go outside and challenge yourself to notice the little details around you.
Plus, big deep gulps of fresh air and moving your body get your brain singing and dancing. Really. Even in the rain.
Fill Your World With Other People's Creativity
Try your hand at illustrating your food - like this cute pomegranate from Shutterstock.
Nothing begets creativity like creativity. Change it up. Get off your computer or smart phone. Instead, go to the bookstore. Browse magazines and cookbooks. Pick them up and hold them in your hands — feel the weight of the paper, admire the photos, read the ingredients.
Try some new restaurants. Try a food on the menu you usually wouldn't. Ask the server to suggest something and ask them why they chose that.
Visit a farmers' market or public market. Talk to the farmers, the cheesemongers, the butchers. Tell them you're in a bit of a rut and want to try something new. They'll give you tons of ideas and be thrilled to help! They can recommend ingredients and pairings you might not have thought of.
Read something historical; a cookbook from the 1800's would be a great place to start. Think about updating a recipe or two from it.
Try Something New
Sign up for a cooking class. Or a wine tasting course. Or learn how to make cocktails. Or make French pastries. Or your own charcuterie.
Try to grow a little garden, inside or out. Start small. Try fresh herbs — they're easy to grow and the aroma will lure you back into the kitchen. And they're gorgeous for styling photos.
Teach a class! Impart your knowledge to people who want to learn. The act of being around others and sharing information is a great way to get inspired.
Move outside the food realm. Look at design, fashion, DIY, lifestyle, and photography books, magazines and blogs. Go to a museum or a gallery. See what's trending in other places and what you can do with it.
Window shopping! Window displays are often great places to get ideas.
Other great ideas are visiting thrift stores, antique stores, or flipping through catalogues. They're great places to pick up photography props on a budget. Plus, picking up a pretty $2 mug or platter can give you all kinds of ideas for a photo, not to mention the dish that would look gorgeous sitting on that platter!
Try something new and stop worrying about whether or not you'll do it well.
Get messy. Make mistakes. Have fun. So you burn something. Ok, it sucks but stop worrying about it — enjoy the process, not the outcome.
If you loosen up and stop worrying about making mistakes and just enjoy the moment of creating, you open yourself up to seeing new ways to do things and new ideas. Often we fall into ruts because we find something that works and that we can do well, and so we stop trying new things because we have something that will do in a jiffy.
Remember how much fun finger painting was in kindergarten? Did you produce something ah-mazing? Probably not (but your mom probably thought you did!). But we bet it was a ton of fun getting dirty and creating something bright and fun and cheerful. Try to recapture that feeling!
Push your boundaries. Nobody has to see the end result. But it will be oh so satisfying and will plant nuggets of inspiration and creativity. And help you fill that well and get ready to ride the next cresting wave!
15 days to fall (back) in love with your blog!