This past week, a friend of mine asked, "Do you ever feel like you're in a creative dry spell?"
"All the time," I said. I could think of plenty of times when the thought of sitting down and being creative felt "heavy."
"But every time that happens," I continued (my first comment not doing much on the motivational front), "I think about something one of my teachers told me a long time ago."
"What's that?" he asked.
"Whenever I felt like I couldn't come up with anything creative, my teacher would ask me, 'Who are you studying?'"
That has stayed with me for a long time, and it's a mode of thinking I try my best to return to as often as I can.
Who you study plays such a vital role in your output. If your output is weak, or mediocre, or lackluster, chances are your inputs are the same—or you're depriving yourself of inputs at all.
In order to be creative, or to come up with great ideas, or to do what it is you do well, you have to be constantly studying your craft. As you continue to study, so too will your skills grow. And then once you've mastering your newest skill set, it's time to acknowledge the plateau and change up who you're studying again.
It's always about reinventing yourself, and pushing to be better today than you were yesterday.
I prefer to study people in all different fields and interests, combining skills, colors, textures, and ideas in unconventional ways. I'm a firm believer you can learn something from everyone. It's all about asking the right questions.
If you're feeling stuck or dry in the creativity department, ask yourself, "Who am I studying?"
The answer to that question will always lead you to where you need to move next.