Four Non-negotiables For Becoming More Creative
There are four things you must do to getting better at creative work. No exceptions. No shortcuts. (This is a broad definition of "creative work". I'm including anything from watercolors to novels to tree-trimming.)
You must start.
A lot of people "want to be a writer." Few actually write. The only way to get better at writing is to string words together in a document or on paper. Reading about it or writing email about it won't suffice. For me, 2018 is my year for non-fiction. Hence this daily blog, and a book project that's evolved from it.
Have a big idea? Start it. Set aside a little time every day. Butt in the chair. Do your thing. Whatever it is. Start.
You must finish.
This is a larger nemesis for many. Six unfinished novels in a drawer. A notebook full of unfinished sketches. A blog dying on the vine from a lack of posts. Starting is critical. But starting doesn't finish. Finishing finishes. Pick a project and see it through to the bitter end.
Side note: if it's your first time finishing a thing, remember it will most likely be unremarkable crap. That's okay. Go to the next project. Start. And finish. That's the only way to get better.
You must get feedback.
Working in a vacuum means you are on your own. You're limiting your potential for growth. If you're serious about getting better, don't be precious. Put your work out there for critique and feedback.
If you're a writer - join a writer's group. Publish. Put your work out there. See who likes it. If you're a speaker, join Toastmasters. If you're a painter or a photographer, open an Instagram account or do a local exhibition. If you're a tree-trimmer, apprentice with an expert. Starting and finishing get the motor running. Feedback tunes it up.
You must be sustainable.
The final element is sustainability. Don't set out to write Game of Thrones. Write short stories. Blog. Learn in small bite-sized increments.
A little bit every day (with an occasional focussed sprint) will get you much farther in less time than large splurges when "inspiration strikes" and setting unrealistic, unreachable goals.
Do your thing for 15 minutes a day. Everyone can find 15 minutes.
Put it on the calendar. Set a schedule.
Butt in the chair.
Do the work.