01 June 2010

Kapowing! - Kapowing Yourself

by guest columnist Katie★Kapow (''')-.-(''')Follow her on Twitter.

When you fall of your horse because your horse is broken, get a new horse. (No wait, that’s not it.)

When the going gets tough because the roof of your house fell on your head, set your roof on fire. (Nope, also not right.)

When you don’t know what to do because everything has fallen apart and you want to give up, fight your hardest. (There, that’s better.)

No bones about it, things have been rough for Kapow lately, but after months of doing nothing in my medium, I’ve awoken with a fervor to fight my way out of it, to “Kapow myself.” We all know that the best motivator we have is within ourselves. If you’ve lost the drive to create, you simply have to kick your own behind and put yourself back in the game. Easier said than done, I know. Hell, even sitting here and attempting to write this article is proving difficult for me.

Just remember that breaking through is possible. Submitted for your perusal, I present: The Story and Outcome of Kapow Beating Down Her Wall.

I knew I needed a project to help kick-start my creativity. Conscious that I had to start somewhere to break out of this slump, I drew up my first goal: choose a project. Because I wanted to ease back into the saddle, the project I chose was stripped-down and simple, “Photograph a new set”. At that point, I knew what I wanted to do and I needed to further flesh out the picture.

Which leads to my second goal: Make a plan.

I’m not a spontaneous person by nature. In fact, I’m just the opposite. I tend to be obsessively organized, scheduled and methodical. I knew that in order to complete my goal, I would need to plan ahead, but not to excess. Too many of my creative friends find themselves with brilliant ideas that never take flight simply because they get stuck in the planning phase. I can’t exclude myself from this group, because I’ve done it too. Planning is fun. Unfortunately, planning isn’t doing.

To prevent myself from getting sucked into the planning phase, I kept the plan simple. I only wanted to know the following: Where am I going to photog?; What are the subjects I’ll want to focus on once I’m there?; And finally, how am I going to do best accomplish this project? The answers came quickly. I wanted to remove myself from my current environment, so I chose Seattle. I wanted my subject focus to be the personality, or the air of the city I was in. Once those decisions were made, all that was left was the “How?” I determined the best way to accomplish my goal was to book a hotel, invite a friend for company, and start driving north.

Without dwelling much on logistics, I packed a bag, threw my camera around my neck and set off on goal three: execute. I could have sat on my sofa forever, daydreaming of the glorious sights and scenes I “could be” photographing in my beloved Seattle. I could have hesitated or made excuses about not having time or money. If I did those things, goal three would have never been achieved. So I bit my lip and dove in.

It had been a few months since I had seriously photographed anything. To be quite honest, I was nervous. Once I was on location, I continued to hesitate. Luckily, my chosen companion was my husband, who would not let me “forget” my camera in the hotel room or who could remind me to remove the lens cap once she was hanging around my neck.

With the urging from this dear friend and loved one, I met goal four: be realistic. I am Kapow yes, but I am no superhuman (though I play one on the internet sometimes). Not everything I do will turn to gold. Not every photo that I take will be perfect, my greatest work or even a hit. Swinging the bat should be my focus. I was out of the game. Now it was time to get back in and play for keeps. I needed to hit my stride again and though I might find a winner in the process, if I don’t, that’s okay. I had to accept imperfection before I could freely execute my plan.

Something else I realized along the way, while being frustrated with the block in front of me and being afraid of the terrible work I may produce, I reaffirmed that I don’t do this because it’s “just a job”. I don’t photog and produce my art because I’m guaranteed a paycheck and health insurance. I do this because it’s what I love. I do this because it’s the light inside me that keeps me going. The empty feeling I’d been having while in the Kapow slump was the void left from the absence of my creativity. Removing the creativity from my daily life was what created the slump and block in the first place. We’re a strange breed, creative types, but if you’re one of us, you know what I mean. I now know that no matter what is going on in my life, I must always make time for my creative outlet.

With the initial project complete, I returned home. By setting a goal, planning, and executing it with realistic expectations, I consider myself successful in breaking down that wall. This means project one is a win, whether or not it’s a critical success. Now, the most important step: Repeat.

Yeah, I took some photos. I made some pieces and I had a great deal of fun, but now I’m back on my sofa and in my comfort zone. What’s to stop me from getting right back into the slump I was in? Me. Armed with a fresh mindset and a sense of accomplishment, I know I can always count on myself to be my own best advocate. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?

So I’m outlining a new project. I’m still keeping it simple, but each new project I complete, I get to add to the challenge. The road back to Kapow is taken in baby steps.

That said, my creative block is over. Mission Kapowing Kapow: Complete.

The moral is this: If you find yourself in a slump, stop fantasizing and start doing. You can plan ahead, but only a little. Then you need to get to work. Start small and simple, and don’t be overwhelmed. If things are slow in the beginning, remember to keep your expectations in check. Things were slow in the very beginning of your art too, weren’t they? The important thing to remember is if you did it before, you can do it again. You’re a creator, and there’s simply no excuse for not creating. If your art is something you love, you owe it to yourself and to your art to keep producing and improving. That, and you owe it to me, and everyone else who might stumble upon your art and fall in love with it.

★Kapow (''')-.-(''') Out.

Random Fact Of the Week About Katie★Kapow (''')-.-(''')
I see the world very differently from most. Someone could, say, look at a tree and see a tree. I might look at it and see the way the colors and surrounding landscape might make the tree look strong, or towering, or even tiny. It’s an emotional experience, looking at the world through my eyes, for a number of reasons I won’t get into here. As such, when I look, I emote and assign emotion. I can’t help it. It’s what I do best.


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