~~1. EXCUSE YOUR LACK OF CREATIVITY TO YOUR “PASSION”~~
Have you met someone who says “I have passion for ______”?
Yet, when they get the chance to do _____, they can’t keep it up for more than a few minutes.
That’s because they don’t actually have a passion for _____.
I hate plenty of Internet trends, but one I’ve really been irritated with lately is the assumption passion is easily accessible.
What your friend has, as it turns out, is an interest in _____.
The hierarchy goes like this:
Interest > Activity > Passion.
Passion is found through repetitive bouts of sustained activity. You don’t just jump there. In the past I would excuse myself from work because “I loved writing.” I love my wife, too, but if I didn’t show up for days at a time, she would probably get a bit irritated with me.
The Muse, a jealous creature, works the same way.
You don’t just get to have passion. You earn it.
~~2. WORK WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT~~
If I had a dollar for every time
“I’ll just write after this coffee”
“Well, let me get some breakfast first”
Which turned into
“Shoot, I’ve got to take this call
And then morphed to
“Well this project is really important right now”
“I can’t write now! My wife is getting off work! Family is more important than career.”
I would have… Well at least a couple hundred bucks.
~~3. STAY SEDENTARY~~
Stagnation is the enemy of creation.
I don’t know all the keys for generating new ideas, but one excellent strategy for NOT coming up with anything new involves staring at a screen willing an exciting concept to emerge.
Creative or not, humans are made for movement. Henry David Thoreau puts this beautifully in “Walking.”
“His library, surely, is down the hall, but his study is out of doors.”
When I think I’m out of ideas, a quick walk does wonders.
(PS — Thoreau wrote a whole thesis on walking which I consider required reading for an artist)
(PPS — It’s free, so there’s no excuse to not click this link)
~~4. READ CRITIQUES BEFORE CREATING~~
Nothing quells a creative spirit like a critique’s mindset.
Every time I think I have the this habit licked, I go through a day like yesterday.
Instead of obeying my normal rule of writing before I do anything else, I checked the popularity of my recent medium post (hoping for a quick ego boost).
Plenty of comments were positive, except for one that said this:
“Oh, so the key to greatness is reading a bunch of books by wealthy, white males? Wonderful.”
This was a mostly innocuous reply, in reference to culture more than my writing, but did I have the presence of mind to realize that at the time?
Of course not.
I slammed my laptop lid shut and spent the rest of the day in self doubt. Wondering if I was racist or sexist or just an awful writer, I created absolutely zero the rest of the day.
Surely some artists are able to simultaneously create and edit.
But I’m not one of them.
~~5. DON’T LEARN ABOUT FLOW~~
All creatives are aware of a certain feeling.
You know the one — where your desk evaporates and the clouds roll away. Where the clock stops moving and your limbs disappear. A voice in your head — not your own — begins to speak. You feel power coursing through you and with a stunning realization, you remember you are made to bring this new thing into the world.
It’s called “flow” and professional creatives do it on demand, manufacturing the exact conditions which catapult them into a creative frenzy.
Without learning what makes you tick and how you like to make art, it’s tough to be consistently creative.
~~6. KEEP YOUR WORK TO YOURSELF~~
If it’s in your pocket, nobody can hurt you.
Why risk the sting of rejection, the pain of criticism, the agony of indifference, when you could just sit on your talent?
Moreover, why bother to think of changing a life (even your own) when it’s much safer to keep your art invisible?
~~7. DON’T TRY NEW THINGS ~~
The brain, a beautifully efficient machine, automates and simplifies familiar tasks as much as possible. Think of the last time you drove somewhere without any awareness of the drive itself.
Unfortunately, that applies to our creativity as well.
In one of my “hustle” experiments, I tried to crank out 1 post a day (at minimum).
After a few weeks, it felt like I was saying the same things over and over.
Because I was.
Without new input, there can never be new output, only regurgitations of the same information.
The biggest assassin, though, the not-silent-killer of creativity is this:
Plenty of novels are abandoned, canvases left blank, photos left untaken, and word documents left with the cursor blinking serenely through this one easy hack.
By doing nothing, you too can kill your creativity for a lifetime.
In fact, it’s the only way to assure you do.