Being a creative artist is about more than just creating a bunch of stuff that other people may or may not care about. Simply the act of creating has a way of changing us and affecting areas of our lives that are far beyond our creative practice.
Creativity can teach us how to live fuller lives and transform ourselves into better human beings. Not only that, but when we improve ourselves, we are better equipped to help improve the world around us as well.
As writers and artists, we sometimes have to force ourselves to pull back and look at the bigger picture. We can get so wrapped up in our little creative niche that we forget to take the time to look around and explore the rest of the world around us.
Eventually everything connects ~Charles Eames
Creativity is in some way the art of making connections. It’s about bringing together ideas and then presenting them in a way the world has never seen.
When we open our eyes to this way of thinking, everything around us becomes fair game for our creativity. The books we read, the music we listen to, and the people who surround us can all contribute. Ideas begin to intermingle and cross pollinate with one another and soon they have created something entirely new.
Over time, we fill our mental toolbox with these experiences and bring them back to our creative practice.
As creative artists, we learn that everything counts and that no effort is ever wasted.
We learn that small efforts add up and that we don’t need to become a full-time artist and work 8 hours a day in order to create something extraordinary. Every hour that we practice, every time that we experiment, and every lesson that we learn contributes to what we will eventually become.
We learn that instead of waiting around for that perfect opportunity to create, we can sit down and write for 20 minutes. This small effort will not only fill our notebooks, but it will also feed our creative soul and help to keep fear and self-doubt away.
We learn that we will only get out of our creative work, what we are willing to put into it.
We must be willing to pay the price, which often requires us to sit down and work whether we feel like doing it or not. We put in the effort because we know it’s the only way to get to where we want to go.
As creative artists, we know what it’s like to keep working even when it seems as if no one cares.
We do it (and keep on doing it) not because other people demand that we create more stuff, but because we demand it of ourselves. We also learn that we make time for what we really want to do.
If we want to make creativity a priority in our lives, it often means giving up something else in the process. We constantly have to adjust our schedules in order to find the time to create our art. We don’t always work because we’re in the mood, but because we’ve learned that it is far easier to keep going than it is to start over again.
We can have almost anything we really want in life, but at the same time, we can’t have everything.
Most people underestimate the amount of time and effort that it takes to do what they want to do. They set big goals for themselves but then give up when the expected results don’t show up immediately or once their enthusiasm for their project has faded.
They don’t realize that this is the trap.
Passion and excitement can only be that initial spark that gets you moving, however, they are not strong enough to see things through to the end. In order to get there, you are going to need patience, persistence, and more than a little blind faith to keep you going.
We live in a results oriented culture and we tend to judge others on the work they have done.
As creators, however, we need to focus not on the final results of our work, but on our degree of progress and growth. We need to change our perspective and understand that the moment we finish a project, it becomes a relic of our past because it was created by the person we were at the time.
It becomes a snapshot, a frozen artifact that represents our thoughts and abilities that we possessed at that particular moment in time.
It doesn’t represent the person you are, or the creative artist you will eventually become.
Success almost always arrives slower than we expect, which is why we should focus on measuring our progress rather than our results. After all, the reward of being a creative artist is in the doing, not the having.
Let’s face it, everyone isn’t going to like everything that we do.
Just as we don’t like every book, every movie, and every song that’s written — there are always going to be people out there who don’t like something you created.
Sure we all want to be liked, but part of being a creative artist is learning how to take a punch in the ego and then be able to pick yourself up off the ground and do it again.
We have to accept the fact that sometimes our audience just won’t get what we do. That’s okay because it’s not always about them and how they react to what we do. We have to have faith that those who like what we do will eventually find our work, and those who don’t, will find something else to amuse themselves.
Instead of protecting our work or running away from criticism, we need to take pride in the fact that we can handle the critics and haters. We should embrace the fact that maybe we are wired a little differently and we’re not afraid to be on the outside looking in. We need to understand that even though we may not always succeed, we’re not going to stop trying because someone doesn’t like what we do.
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.