15 November 2011

Down-time- What I Do to Recharge

The one thing I often complain about is that I don’t have the time or enough time to blog, get crazy in Photoshop, or just catch up on this and that on my PC. Now I have nothing but time, however, unfortunately it’s not by choice. You might ask ‘What does it matter? You have the time you wanted!’.  To which I might respond ‘Bite me.’

I’m going bat-shit and it’s difficult to concentrate or free my mind from more stressful matters to find any spark of creativity inside me. I open and close PSP like my old man used to flick the lid on his stainless steel Zippo lighter while he was trying to decide if he should just ground me or take me out behind the stables. Coming up with ideas to blog about is even more frustrating. The things I would like to blog I have to restrain from and this makes everything else seem trivial in comparison. This leaves me trying to find ways to recharge. Recharging is not something I have ever been very good at.

My creativity usually hits me in waves. These waves tend to just take over. I am usually helpless to them. I remember reading somewhere that scientists or doctors had determined that Van Gogh had epilepsy and that his huge outpourings of creativity were actually seizures that might last days or weeks. Having an already over-rich romanticized view of Van Gogh, this just deepened my feelings for the man. It also made me wonder if my creative bursts were symptoms of something similar. Alas, I am not as talented as he and my current dry spell has lasted far to long which means someone snuck into my room while I lay sleeping and laid hands upon me, healing me of my torment or I am just dried up.

If I assume I have no form of epilepsy the alternative is more depressing than the actual state of un-imagination I am experiencing. Lucky for me I know I am not dried up. I am still full of ideas and notions, anger and sadness, mischief and mayhem. I can feel it all seething deep down inside. I just have not been able to find the strength…the energy…to bring it up and focus it.

I usually will try to force myself to create. Sometimes it actually works. I will go through some very frustrated stages while doing this and turn out a lot of crap until something catches me. It catches me like a new hook will rip through the mouth of a bass and pull it….yank it… in a totally unexpected direction. It’s just as thrilling and frightening all at the same time. In my case, I’m the bass that usually swallows the whole damn hook. It rips at the gills and throat and I am helpless to it. I follow it wherever it takes me, often cursing along the way but enjoying the ride and pace. Enjoying the struggle. This time, all I have done is produce a lot of crap. You may actually be reading some right now.

So, the past few days I have tried to figure out how I can recharge. I wasn’t even sure where to start with that. I finally decided to follow the adage ‘Go with what you know’. Lately, for me, that has been stress and feeling down. The good thing about being down..and I mean really, really down…is that there aren’t to many ways to go from there.

I started by looking through my music collection and YouTube videos for some of the most depressing shit I could find. (Remember, I am going with what I know). Searching for music to fit my mood was hard. Try searching for depressing songs and half of what you get is death metal and the other half is Avril Levigne. With some time I was able to find music styling's more to my taste. Then I looked for the accompanying videos. The videos have to fit the song. I really love overproduced videos as much as I love the minimal approach.

One video that I have always loved and go back to enough times to be embarrassed about sharing with you is ‘Nuit Blanche by Arev Manoukian’. You have to watch it. As many times as I have seen it, I keep hoping the ending will be different.

In one of my last dry spells, I came out of it making wallpapers based on songs I was listening to over and over. I have yet to attempt one on the above video but may have to some day.

The other thing I have been doing is kind of huge for me. I have had to force myself to stop visiting the same sites for any form of inspiration. I suppose because of my state of emotion, a lot of these sites were just making me feel worse. Part of it has to do with watching some truly wonderful people advance their own talents while I am stalled. Another part of it is seeing other folks I respect struggling and because of my own struggles I am helpless to reach out and help them in any way at all.
I started by looking for some new tutorial sites I could make use of in PSP. There are tons of great tutorials for just about anything you could imagine trying to do in PSP. I like looking for the things you would use other programs for like 3D tutorials and fractal tutorials. Knowing how to do something still doesn’t solve the issue of what to do with what you know. I still need inspiration. While plodding through the internet trying to find that inspiration I tried looking outside of my own norm.

I spent a lot of time on The Daily What and all of it’s sister sites. A place I usually go for mindless entertainment only this time I went looking. I searched for things fitting my mood or likes. I then decided to tread into unfamiliar territory and create my own ‘meme’ for lack of a better word. I can barely tell the difference between a meme and a photobomb.


I submitted it and it sits in my newly created gallery there. I don’t have a fucking clue how to get it on the main pages or if it’s even good enough. What matters is that I tried it.

It was roaming through TDW that I came across FFFFOUND!. This is an amazing site with an endless variety of design. It has everything from GIF’s posted on Tumblr to some of the most amazing typography I have ever seen. The best part is that every thing you see links you to another amazing site (usually the works original point of origin). After days of looking through FFFFOUND! and tons of links (all while listening to the music I searched and downloaded, blasting through my headphones) I started to find things. Little things. Things that would spark my imagination. Things that grabbed me. And it felt good.

I ended up opening PSP with a purpose. A goal. Granted, I didn’t turn out what I would call my best works, but I like them. In my heart I really like them.


Finally, I had a couple of other things going on. I dug up my copy of William Shatner’s  ‘Up Til Now’ (which is available through his website WilliamShatner.com) and kept it either on the nightstand or the library.  I love this book. It’s a major distraction for me when my thoughts are jumbled. It’s well written, fascinating, funny as hell, and just light enough to give me something to focus on and not be overwhelmed by. I’m on my fourth trip through it.

The last thing was trying to find a way to get back on track with my blog. This was/is actually the most difficult. I has intended my blog to be a place where I could rant, share, try to be funny, and share my personal views on life. However, as I mentioned earlier, you can’t always blog about the things you want or the things foremost in your thoughts. When those things all but consume you, what the hell do you write about? I started searching for advice on blogging. Let me tell you, there is a shit load of people out there who think they have all the answers when it comes to blogging. I won’t get into the ones I passed on. Instead, let me tell you about the one I have added to my ‘Blogs I Crave’ links.

Chris Brogan is a blogger who has the opposite of the condition that I suffer from. In his words

“People often ask me how I come up with things to blog about, and I find the question strange, because my problem is the opposite. I have too much to blog about.”

His solution was to  “write you up 100 blog post titles that I want YOU to write. Take one of these and run with it. Make the coolest ideas from whatever these spark in you,“

I love it. No bullshit. None of the ‘you should never blog about this’ or ‘this is how you make your blog interesting’ crap. Just a list of 100 ideas. I chose number 84 ‘Downtime- What I Do Offline to Recharge’. My take on it has to do with being down and trying to find my way back up, find my inspiration...my creativity again.

To sum up or simplify all of this. When I need recharging -
  • Go with what you know. Take it and try applying it to things you are unfamiliar with or not comfortable with.
  • Explore what your feeling, no matter how dark. Someone is always feeling worse and has found a better way to express it. It can truly be inspirational as well as give you a new perspective on your own feelings.
  • Avoid everything that has become stale!
  • Have something to focus on when your overwhelmed with negativity or frustration. An old book, some project around the house you’ve been putting off. (Preferably something that does not have to be done all at once.)
  • Look for advice from new sources. Keep it simple and bullshit free.
So, here you have it. We have it. I have it. My first post in a while. And if I can’t come up with my own idea in a timely manner, I have 99 ideas to choose from thanks to Chris.  So, thank you Chris. And anyone who is reading this for getting to the end. Hopefully this wasn’t crap.

I’d be interested, truly, in hearing what YOU do to recharge or pull yourself out of the dumps.


  1. I hear you on that lack of inspiration problem. I have been going through a bit of that myself. What I have been doing is using Google image searches to help get me inspired. I've been typing random words into the search bar and looking at the images associated with it. Sometimes that will spark something, sometimes not.

    I've realized that I have been trying to top myself, make something better, cooler, cleaner than what I have made before. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not, and it's been getting harder and harder to do.

    I've picked up a couple of new (for me) programs in the hope that I will learn something new that will spark something, but have not had a lot of motivation to get into those. I open one up, play with it a little and close it, accomplishing nothing.

    Maybe I just need a break, or maybe I just need to keep looking for that spark. I'll check out that site you linked to, maybe I'll find something there.

  2. I picked up a couple of new programs as well. I thought I would challenge myself to get motivated again. All I ended up doing was creating some new curse words to express my frustration. ;)
    Let me know if FFFFOUND! helps you at all. It's such an eclectic mix of art and design, I found it very refreshing.

  3. Damn you Noah...I loved that video, the music...but the ending.....*sigh*....

    What I do for down time...I skype with Anna..when I'm down, she's up, when she's down I'm up...we share ideas on projects some collaboration we could do...I will also work in one of the many programs I have like... Apophysis, mandelbulb3D, artrage, twistedbrush, harmony ( I started a group...drawing must be done in harmony and someone suggests the idea or object..come and join us)... Photoshop, taking photos...and so on you get the idea. I also draw with pencil/pen if I'm desperate...or I will tear apart a closet and clean it. And watching something funny, or sad...or listening to very sad music...crying is good for the eyes and heart. Well sorry I wrote a book, I'll try and keep it shorter next time! lol!

  4. I never have that problem... I'm never really inspired. My writing? Mainly comes from the desire to help folks, warn them about stuff I see on the web... art? No one in his right mind would ever call what I do art. I take an image and play with it. If I like it I keep it. If not? Meh. Recycled immediately. Creating an image, though? Forget that. My inspiration would be a hand or eye... then I start and waves of nausea overcome me. I look at earlier stuff I did only to induce the inevitable outcome and end the agony of wanting to, but not quite being 'there' yet. Like a sneeze that almost happens.

  5. teddy - right now my drawing ability is very limited or I would join. I hope it changes soon. ;)

    Doc- Doofus, your 'inspiration' comes from being so generous and wanting to help folks (like me, and thanks for all the times you did and do)