Blocked, overwhelmed or just lazy?

It has been difficult to create art lately. I do have a lot going on, but I’ve been doing some soul searching regarding my commitment to my art. Over the last few months I’ve taken some photos and shot some drone video, but when it comes to doing the editing and such, to turn casual pieces into something worth sharing, I haven’t made the time or mustered up the energy to complete it. And I certainly haven’t been blogging, as the nearly one year gap between posts on this blog attest to.


So what’s my excuse? My wife and I are in the process of moving back to the U.S. after four wonderful years living in Japan. We are dealing with a lot of issues including leasing a house, moving stuff out of storage, and getting rid of all of our excess crap. We have been committed to living a simpler life when we move back, less cluttered and with some “margin”. Unfortunately we’ve further complicated the process by buying a house in the mountains. We’ve accelerated our path to our future state by making an investment beyond our current circumstances, but while exciting, it does add stress and additional work.

Now we have to deal with organizing and packing our Japan apartment for our final move home. All the while, work demands are relentless.

It’s interesting how the demands for time and energy can have the effect of pushing art to the background. I have so many ideas, my Photo Haiku project (stalled at #16 out of a planned 52), drone video I want to capture in Japan, photos I want to take here before I leave, blog posts I want to write, Shutterstock images I want to capture, and sketches I’ve had planned. I find myself spinning and not able to start anything.

I had a bit of inspiration last night and experimented with a technique I’ve been wanting to try to capture fireworks in a unique way. It worked out pretty well and I have another opportunity tonight.


I don’t want art to feel like work. I want it to just bubble up out of my passion for creating something beautiful that others might enjoy. But I guess most of the time, there is work involved and if I want to keep improving my craft and create something worth sharing, I have to make the time to do the work. I encourage you to do the same.

So, my situation is a bit of “overwhelmed”, with dash of “lazy”, but what about “blocked”? At some level, it is difficult for me to even consider myself an “artist”. Does taking photos, writing blog posts or flying my drone around taking video qualify me? Does anyone really care about my “art”? The reality is, anyone who creates is an artist. You don’t have to do it full time and you don’t have to earn a living at it (or generate any revenue at all for that matter). You just recognize the wonder and the beauty of your surroundings and want to capture it in some way. An iPhone photo qualifies. A quick sketch or a full-on painting. Write a blog post, or write a book. If you’re communicating something meaningful, you could be expressing your art in a Facebook post or a tweet. Art is simply making the connection between what you experience and what you feel and expressing it in a creative way.

Feeling blocked is normal, but the danger is getting stuck there. I feel a renewed conviction to quit procrastinating and just create… and as Austin Kleon say, “show my work”.

sunrise haiku

“If you want to be the noun, first do the verb”

This “newspaper blackout” poem by Austin Kleon really struck me when I saw it this morning.

Austin Kleon is a creative soul that currently hails from Austin Texas. He originally burst on the scene with his unique method of leveraging the reservoir of words available in the newspaper, with the crude editing capability of a sharpie marker. The results can be very insightful, and sometimes convicting. I, at least to a certain degree, consider myself a “photographer”. But if I want to “be the noun”, I also need to be willing to “do the verb”. Doing the verb includes not only shooting the photos, but editing, organizing, publishing and other activities, all of which can amount to real work. As I write this, there is a pro beach volleyball event within sight of my apartment. This is a great opportunity to get some close up shots and add some unique images to my portfolio. If I want to be a photographer, I need to go shoot some photos.

And, while I don’t necessarily consider myself a writer, If I aspire to that (and I guess I do), I have to write. Maybe more on that later.