How do you get out of a rut? IDK, I'm asking you! / by Jordan Hefler

Going 0-100 is bad. Not the song, I mean I'm all about Drake's song 0-100 (I freaking love that song.) But I'm talking about going from 0 to 100 in a short period of time in the freelance world. This is an awesome but crazy thing: To have little to no freelance work and then all of a sudden having to shoot and edit sessions/concerts/events 3-4 times a week can be bittersweet. Money is good...general physical and mental wellbeing is not.

Life was INSANELY busy yet rewarding for me between February-April this year. I work full time in graphic design 9AM-5PM during the week and I've already used 5.5 of my 10 vacation days this year for freelance photography related endeavors, in addition to shooting/editing almost every day after I get off of work and almost all of my weekends. I've been going as the kids say these days, balls to the wall. This level of business really only happens this hardcore for me in the spring, due to the high volume of senior portrait inquiries this time of year. Honestly, I booked less portraits this year just to save myself from getting burned out, and I've still been running myself ragged. Photography is hard work, but I'm very passionate about keeping my passion a passion...does that make sense?

Have you ever come to hate the very thing that you helped to create? Cuz that’s how I feel everyday.
— Knuckle Puck, "But Why Would You Care?"

Anyways, going 0-100 can be a lot of stress at once, but you know what's worse? GOING 100-0. I've never really been good with the concept of free time because I feel guilty when I'm not doing something productive. I'm terrible at ignoring emails/messages because I don't like conversations just sitting there (if I'm ignoring you it's because you're legitimately driving me insane) and it's very rare for me to just sit down on the couch and chill without doing SOMETHING related to running my business. When I'm at home, I'm on my computer blogging or editing or networking or researching or SOMETHING. When I'm on my phone, I'm strategizing for social media for one of the 3 accounts I run, talking to potential clients, or attempting to keep up with what my talented photography colleagues are up to. My mind is like a psycho hamster wheel that never stops, and when the busy stretches of my life stop... I go crazy.

This is just a side story here but I felt that I should mention that I saw a woman watering the plants in her front yard the other day and I was just like omg who is this woman how does she have time for this? Who has time for this? Who even has time to have plants? Why is she home right now? How why WHO???! And then I was like ohh some people's priorities are different than mine, that's cool. But yeah no, that will never be me because when I get home I go straight to my computer and have photos to edit.

Photographers never stop working. Even when they're in the bathroom. Maybe that's just me. #NoDaysOff #OccupiedVacant

A photo posted by Jordan Hefler 📸 (@jordan.hefler) on

My busiest season is at its end right now.. and I'm kind of like a lost puppy. I'm actually kind of moping around for no reason. I've been reaching out to people and businesses in hopes of establishing new opportunities, trying to be a go-getter, but it seems like everyone's ignoring ME now (is this karma because I used to cyber bully Miley Cyrus on twitter in 10th grade??) I've been denied for the last 2 concerts I was supposed to shoot, I'm not meeting my daily social media goals, I should be charging more for what I'm doing but I keep taking jobs that are quoted too low, and I'm mostly just feeling uninspired. I believe the scientific term for this feeling is BLAH. 

Do you ever just feel like you've hit a wall? In the creative industry, I know ruts are common.. but what do you do to get out of them? Back when I was younger or in art school, ruts happened to me all the time but they didn't really matter, because they weren't part of my business. They were just part of life and I got over them and forgot about them and moved on. And we'd usually have a long drawn out conceptual discussion in class the next day about something, and it would draw some inspiration and I'd be onto the next thing. But now I'm so stressed out with the thought of what I SHOULD be doing or the fact that everyone else might be on a train that's moving forward without me (don't leave me pls)

I kind of have a little bit of FOMO, and I feel like my self worth is just not where it should be for how hard I work every day.

To kick up the creative juices that are seemingly nonexistent in me right now, I've recently been working on some unconventional edits of some live music silhouettes I've taken (seen at the bottom of this blog post.) They are inspired by Spotify's KILLER branding (which you can see directly below.)

I would die to work for Spotify's creative department

I would die to work for Spotify's creative department

I also just bought a prism to play with on some upcoming shoots, so I'm eager to use that at a concert or at a cool portrait session. I also have plans of (eventually) working with film again and continuing my remainder / reminder series that unintentionally came to a pause 2 years ago with me graduating college. But right now I'm just feeling drained, and a little stuck. As Florence Welch wails in that song that I don't really like that much, it's always darkest before the dawn? Right? Hopefully.

This blog post is just as much of a therapeutic diary entry to me as it is a public question for you. It's also a lot of me whining but I like to talk a lot and I really like to type, and also HEY! This is MY blog! But ok so I need your creative help.

How do you deal with creative ruts?

If you're a musician or writer, this is probably the same for you as writers block. How do you get inspired again? I am inspired daily by all kinds of things, but I'm just having trouble manifesting these inspirations into anything tangible.

Suggestions, pep talks, life stories, and words of wisdom are absolutely welcome in the comments!