How to be Creative Every Damn Day
I love being an artist. It feels like I am a magician most of the time because I am creating something that didn’t exist until I made it. It is atrocious how under appreciated being creative is but I can understand why the stigma exists. Getting to be creative, and getting paid to be creative, is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced in my life and if you are reading this then you are probably searching for a way to do the same, so I will let you in on a little secret...
Being creative is fucking hard.
And being creative on a constant basis is enough to send you to a therapist (I should know). Even though it is fun and magical because you are creating something that wasn’t there an hour ago, it is work and hard work at that. It is such a volatile skill that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t and trying to regain it in when you are a young budding creative can feel like trying to break a wild stallion. Creative obstacles, or artists block, is something even the most seasoned artist has encountered. I went two years without finishing a drawing because I just couldn’t see my style as anything but one giant flaw but I kept at it and grew and studied, and now I get to say I am a professional artist first and everything else comes second. Being creative is my profession, and I am so lucky that I get to do what I do but also know and live under pressure to wake up and create every single day and along the way I have picked up some habits that help make it doable. It won’t make it easy because most of the rewarding things in our lives are never easy, but they certainly help.
Don’t be afraid of the magic of prompts. Creative prompts help take away that hard first step of figuring out what to create when you don’t know where to start. Prompts come in all shapes and sizes for artists, writers, and even musicians. I have yet to hear of a creative medium that didn’t have a prompt to help individuals along the way. Sometimes you look at a prompt and think “ugh do I really have to draw that? No one is making me,” and the answer is always yes, you have to draw that because what else are you going to create at this moment in time? Aren’t you already stuck? Just do it. Take that step and finish that prompt and even if you hate it, you at least created it.
Find a Starting Activity That Helps You Feel Focused and Centered
Getting into the right mindset is so important. If you are trying to make something, but are distracted by errands or chores, then find a way to bring yourself back to a place of focus. Sometimes you are actually distracted by things you need to do, in which case, do them. Sometimes you are just procrastinating, in which case, get your mind back on track. Distract yourself from your distractions with your creations. You can meditate, doodle, take a walk or exercise. All of these are things I have done to get myself back on track when I can seem to get my head in the creating game.
TRY Every Single Day
This is such a huge one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t finish something every day, you just need to start something every day. All too often we get caught up in the worry and pressure of a finished product which can suck the life out of the process of actually creating. As long as you are putting your best foot forward to try and make something every day, odds are you're going to create something, and maybe even finish it.
Don’t Focus on the Finish Line
That being said, don’t focus on just the finish line. If what you are working on just won't come out then move onto the next thing and come back when you feel ready. If you were to look through my portfolios, you would find plenty of unfinished pieces. If you opened my documents, you would see hundreds of unfinished blog posts. Some are just documents with titles. For most creatives, it's not the finish line we focus on. It is the joy of creating that wants to make us start something new after we have finished our last project. So if you are finding yourself worrying about what the outcome of your project is going to be, take a step back and just breathe in the process of actually making it. This will help put the fun back into whatever it is you are working on and when creating is fun, its addictive.
Work on Some Warm-Ups Before Jumping In
Warm-ups are such an essential part of any medium. Youcan use prompts as I mentioned above or just doodle for a bit. Anything you can do to warm up your brain and make your hands feel less stiff. The last thing you want to do is feel like you can’t move or produce when you are trying to make something.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
It's true what they say practice makes perfect. And practice makes it so that way you are more comfortable with your medium and yourself when you go into a creative job. There is a reason plays have rehearsals and musicians have sound checks. Take away the element of surprise by practicing and knowing your craft when it comes to creating.
Breaks are Okay
Part of being productive in any skill is knowing when to give yourself a break. I use the Pomodoro technique when I am working on blog posts or, well, anything actually. The gist of it, I make sure to work, undisturbed and completely focused, for a full 25 minutes. Then I give myself a 5-minute break during which time I stretch, refill my water bottles, goof off on Instagram. Anything that feels like a mental break from creating for a short amount of time so when I jump back into whatever I am currently working on, I feel refreshed and ready for another round while less tempted to goof off and procrastinate during the next burst.
Let go of Perfect
Very few finished creations were done in one try. There are usually hours and hours of editing, repainting, resculpting all for one finished product. I am not saying it’s not impossible, but I am saying to evaluate yourself and see if you are potentially holding yourself back from finishing a creation because you are tripping over the idea of “perfection.” Being a perfectionist is a flaw as much as a strength. Sometimes our idea of what something should look like or turn out to be can hold us back from the real potential our abilities to create has. Loosen the grip on your project and yourself and let happen what naturally happens, and if you don’t love it then you can always go back and work on it, or hell, even start over. This isn’t your one chance. Your one life FILLED with opportunities to create if you decide to take it and you might even come to love what comes from you naturally even more than what you thought perfect should look like.