Many people think that creativity is simply a way of thought, how certain people go thinking about things. And it is. Only that is a smaller part of the larger picture.
Yes, creative is a way of thought. But it is also a way of doing, a way of acting. Think of it as a personal commitment to how one goes about things and problem solving. So much of creativity is a way about problem-solving, getting after a new point of view, a new approach. This is really what we’re after here. Approaching problems in a new way.
Since I find that my creativity is far more an action, a definite act, than really a way of thought, it comes down to discipline for me. If I choose not to do it, if I choose to skip a day, like going to the gym, I feel that I am cheating my fans, my patrons, out of my daily output, whatever that may have been. I’m choosing to not fight that day. While there is nothing wrong with taking a day off, it does make you wonder how much creative output we leave on the table / off of the crafting table. We’re capable of so much more if we’d only give ourselves the chance.
There has never been a better time to be a Creator.
I find myself coaching others more about their creative path and what it is they’re working on with the additional time they find themselves having. There has never been a better time to be a creator, out there making things for your people. There has also never been a better time to make a good living as a creator. There has never been a better time to be a disciplined creator, either. Consistent discipline gets rewarded both internally and externally.
The unfortunate part I find is that so few people believe in themselves and in their abilities to figure out their contribution toward their own creative output that they are stymied out of the gate. Or, they start and promptly sputter. It seems that building early momentum is rather difficult. Well, it is. You just have to keep after it! Quantity of output is far more important than self-judging quality, especially early on. But even later on with experience, you learn that what you think about the thing isn’t nearly as important. It just is what you created / wrote / shot / edited / crafted / acted / sang / threw that day. It was just a part of the discipline that you committed yourself to. And now, here you are.
The other unfortunately easy part is falling out of the Creative routine. It seems when we get too busy, cutting back or cutting entirely our creative routine / hobby / actions is the easiest (and most unfortunate) place to cut. When you get super busy, your creative actions and discipline are even more important. Here’s how important I think your creative actions and discipline are to your day:
Cut out something else.
Cut anything else but your creative daily actions. I say this because we need you and your outputs at your best, most fluid, most connected self. And your discipline is what will keep you on the creative path — the doing. Not, “I don’t have time for that.” Not, “That’s just not me any more.” Not, “My spouse thinks this is silly, so I’m quitting because no one supports me in this.” Like rehearsing, if people think you are crazy, you’re on the right path. Normal people never rehearse. Creative people rehearse All The Time. We are always practicing. Always. Why would normal people ever understand that?
We don’t celebrate being weird enough here. I think we’re getting better, but we don’t celebrate weird enough. Weird ought to be celebrated because weird is interesting and weird solves problems. Weird also creates extraordinary things that normal likes, things normal never would have created.
Some people are scared of weird because they don’t understand it or it is just too “out there,” too different from normal. Weird is simply another self-expression, something artistic, a different form of being and thinking. For the problems of the world today, we need more weird! We need more weird creations, more weird thoughts, more weird connections, and more weird emotions expressed through art.
Note, you can look “normal” and still be weird, having weird thoughts and strange creations. This scares a lot of normal because they won’t want people to know what they’re really thinking and perhaps what they’re really working on behind closed doors. If we were to celebrate being weird more, normal wouldn’t be so closeted and so cloistered. It would be better off, more expressive, more public, a better problem-solver. Peoples’ thinking would be better, even more expressive, more honest. We’d be getting after it!
Falling off of the Creative routine.
The other problem is it’s really easy to fall off your creative routine. Like the gym, the easiest thing to do is not go. The easiest thing to blow off is our daily creative output. Social media browsing is far easier than the hard work of creating. Watching the news is far easier (and unfortunately default for a lot of us). Checking-in is way easier than writing a long form blog post that will be good content for years to come.
We all fall off. All of us. The question is, will you hop back on the creative bandwagon and get after your outputs that matter the most? Checking your inbox for the 30th time today doesn’t matter. Social media browsing is not the priority. The (bad) news will always be there. Your Creative Output is the priority. You getting back to creating is imperative. We need you and what you create now more than ever. Please don’t keep it from us.
Think about the band that you love that hasn’t created anything new in years. Don’t you wonder what happened to them? Why are they keeping the new material from us? If they have a back catalog, even if only a few records, why do they not get back into the studio and cut another album? What’s wrong with them!? Don’t they realize that they’re wasting their talent!? Why aren’t they touring? Why aren’t they sharing their art with the rest of us? Where is their expression? Where is the performance? Where!?
Couldn’t the same be said for you if you’ve been dormant lately? Couldn’t the same be said for what you’re not doing right now? Couldn’t we say you’ve been sputtering around, not really doing much for creative output, maybe hacking away here and there on occasion, only to not have it amount to much?
It isn’t just dormant bands. Being creatively dormant applies to us all. We’re all guilty of it. All of us, together. Since we fell into this mess together, we can get out of it together, too!
We need to encourage each other more. We need to cheer each other on more frequently. We need to provide constructive feedback and be able to take it as simple feedback, ideas for the future (which is all constructive feedback is).
Be courageous enough to Ship.
Further, we need to stop being afraid to ship. We need to stop being afraid to publish. We need to stop being afraid to promote. We all want our creations acknowledged, liked, even loved. The only way to make this happen is to ship, to publish, to promote. You are not a sell-out if you do this! You’re a sell-out if you don’t because you’re copping out. Your thing only gets better when you work to perfect it. Your course doesn’t get better without student feedback. Your book doesn’t get better without early readers and professional advice on the topic. Your app doesn’t get better without Alpha and Beta releases, creating dozens and dozens of feedback loops from dozens and dozens of people testing it. We have to have the courage to release it.
The good news is that releasing is just like live performance or public speaking: the more often you do it, the less scary it is. Regular releasing, shipping, publishing, promoting becomes natural, just something you do. It is just something you do! Like brushing your teeth or working out at the gym. You know, natural stuff you do that you barely think about.
Prolific, Creative Output.
This is why I stress Prolific, Creative Output. Getting after creating what you create over and over and over again. Because the more you create and release / publish / ship / promote, the more you simply work these actions into your daily routine. These milestones become a regular rhythm for you. So much so, in fact, that when performed regularly enough, they are no longer milestones. They’re simply a part of your Creative Act. What a wonderful thing that is!
When you reach this stage, that’s when people start to recognize you as someone who just “does it.” You are known for your creative work. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? You are a writer. You are a performer. You are a teacher. You are an innovator. You are an inventor.
You are what you want to become.