The creative world is one of it’s kind, and it doesn’t take long for the creative person to get burnt, to feel down, in a rut, or decompose himself into feeling useless and worthless. But the truth is, creativity is not a goal, it’s a journey. I firmly believe we should learn to enjoy our path to creativity and here is how I am taking time to figure mine out, and how it might help you.
First things first, during the last year or so, I have been working on multiple segments of my life, from exercise, to revisiting my food intake, mental workouts, and time off. My take on this is that there are many ways to build our creativity and it comes in many forms, for each of us. The essence of creativity however is not to be constant, but simply to be.
A few questions come to mind when thinking about creativity. What is creativity ? how do we become more creative ? how do we create ? who do we create for ? where to start ? and how do I compare to others ? you might have many more questions related to creativity, and I most certainly won’t have an answer to some of them, but i’ll help you dig into your thoughts to get things out.
Creativity as a goal
As stated in the introduction, creativity is not a goal. Aiming to be Creative is a bit like aiming to be intelligent or Strong, it doesn’t mean anything as it is not a clear objective, and what if it’s achieved ? what next ? is it the end ? does life stop ? In my humble opinion creativity can’t be a goal but only a set of step stones to make you connect with yourself.
So how do we make creativity into stepstones ? Well the question should really be, why do you want to be creative ? Think about it for a minute (which will trigger your logical brain and not the creative one), it’s difficult to figure out why you are creative, but a way to help you is to think about HOW you feel when you are creative !
Got it ? How do you feel ? Is it something you can’t stop doing ? or things you just love doing ? it might be singing, dancing in your room, photography, design, drawing, engineering, inventing things, writing, cooking, or any other activity which makes you feel amazing.
Stop trying to be creative
What ? So to be creative I should stop trying to be creative ? Yes, I firmly believe that you should stop trying… because trying triggers the logical brain, the one of words, the one of non brainstorm.
One of the keys of a great book I read a few years ago to learn to draw – Drawing with the right side of the brain – was that you should start reproducing images by turning them upside down, to prevent your brain from seeing a nose, an eyelid or whatever when drawing a portrait for example. If you focus on lines, shadows, shapes without naming them, you’ll see an incredible improvement in your skills in a few hours.
By not thinking, and not letting your mind go into putting words, you’ll start being more creative. Now what is “more” or “less” and does it mean anything ? Honestly ? No. Don’t consider being creative as less or more, just consider the word “being” as if creativity was your friend, your companion, and your copilot in terms of just making things happen.
Learning to let go
In my quest for creativity, what I have learned is that the more I tried, the less it took place, the more I was thinking about it, the less it was creative. How I unleashed creativity was just by deciding to get out there, with my camera, and start looking, what do I feel when i bring the camera to my eye ? How does this image feel ? I get out there and produce, just produce… I try an angle, move aside, see if I like it, continue, without judgment, not considering if it’s good or bad, just trying things out, and making things take place.
By bringing the “what is it worth” in the equation, back to the logical mind, and you’ll most certainly get stuck, so don’t think and just let go.
Social media & Creativity
Social media and the civilisation we live in are very consumer based, and extremely conformist elements of life. The world wants specialists, people who can repeat the same thing over and over again. We eat in food chains over the world, the same shopping centres, products, sensations, we go for the easy comfort zone, what we already know, over and over again, day after day.
Well that’s for some, but the entrepreneurs, the creatives, the outcasts, the missfits aspire to something else. When you travel, you are doing it because you want a “thrill” to discover something different, you try an extreme sport to “give you a buzz”.
I don’t advise for everyone to do this, but for my part, I have quit social media, I have deleted my accounts. Does this mean I never go on instagram, pinterest or so ? for sure not, but I do it in a very conscious way. I to and see the work of a specific account or person, I look for something which will drive me. I’m out as an account holder, because I know the brain will try to make a conformist out of me, to protect me from the “fight or flight” response our lizard brain will trigger.
Social media has been shown as being more and more of the same. People will, for the need to be accepted, copy, replicate, or adapt to get more likes, more shares, more comments. It’s not bad, it’s just human, as the human being is a social animal, we need to feel accepted, by our family, by our peers, by our social group, and going against the flow requires massive willpower over an extended period of time.
So what does it have to do with creativity ? Well whilst you’re looking at all the others on instagram or social media, you’re comparing yourself to them, but they are not you ! So you’ll try to replicate and put your touch on something which isn’t you, and you’ll become a copycat or just do something someone else does… so why should we hire you for that ? If i want to work with Chris Burkard or Mario Testino, or Tim Tadder, I mustn’t be them, I must be myself with what I can learn from them, but I must really be myself.
The essence of creativity is to avoid the pittfall of instant gratification. Our world is trying to be faster, every single day, every minute, every second, we should publish, publish, show more. The biggest risk with this is that we are also seeking for perfection through what we are showing, because we are social animals, remember ? Yes… I’m sure you’ve got it now… how can you be perfect, publish your best work, on a daily basis if you can’t get out there and experiment with “mistakes” or do things which is worthless, just for the sake of creating ? Won’t work right ? yep… it’s technically impossible because it’s antinomic to work that way.
A great way to be creative is to free yourself from the need for instant gratification. The most magical things in life take time. Instant gratification is nice on the moment, but feels sour on the long run, because we want more and more, but never feel satisfied.
Take the Sagrada Familia, the pyramids of egypt, the grand canyon, the mount everest… how many years, thousands of years, millions of years did they take to be what they are ? Are they not amazing and fascinating ? Did the builders create something bigger than them ? yes… did nature just not create something without caring about the ego of instant gratification ? for sure…
One of the main elements to let go is to clear our mind, and my main recommendation, from months of research and almost 100 books on the topic of creativity, entrepreneurship, is to learn to meditate.
Meditation is the art of silencing your brain, and by silencing your brain, you’re learning to get into the first steps of flow.
There are many ressources on the topic of meditation, and a few applications on your phone such as petit bambou in french, or headspace for example in english, which can help you in your first steps towards mediation. Guided by a voice, you learn to let go, focus on your breath, and on the present moment, you will clear your thoughts of what you are worth in the eyes of others, and just learn that the moment is the essential part of creativity.
Another element to create is to have a little idea book and gratitude journal with you. Whenever an idea comes along, write it down, and on a daily basis, just look for all the good things taking place in your life.
Can’t find something to be grateful for ? life sucks ? you’re totally depressed ? Just think about the fact that you have a roof, food, a life, the sun, the wind on your face, the feeling of rain and the calm it provides, a bed ? whatever… simple things. From the simple feeling of mint when brushing your teeth, to just wearing your favourite t-shirt…
Journaling will help you refocus on the positive, and by focusing on the positive, it’s much easier to create, because we can get into what we love, how we love it, and get that out to the world
In my quest for learning, I have found a book and a journal which have lead me to precious changes, they might be interesting reads for you. I would recommend this amazing read by James Clear – Atomic Habits and the Clear Journal from BaronFig to assist you in managing your journaling and habits.
Be your own creative voice
So you’ve been meditating for a while maybe, and journaling, or maybe not because you’re discovering this article today, how can that get you to create ?
We discussed the fact that meditating refocused you on yourself, and gratitude refocused again on your positive experience of life, so both of these things are related to you, to who you are, how you feel, and making things positive.
The world you create for yourself is not the world of others, and therefore your creativity doesn’t come from others, it comes from within. 10 creative people can go to the same show, see the same art gallery, listen to the same music, and they will create something different out of this if we drive them to be different.
So now, it’s time for you to put all this together, and maybe you can meditate a bit, then journal your thoughts, and visualise something you feel good about. Start with what you have, whatever, just create, 1 picture at a time, 1 word at a time, 1 lyric at a time… just get 1 after the other, and the other, and the next.
Most of it won’t work for you on the long run, but within that, there will be your pearl, the essence of who you are, and that is creativity. You will create something which will resonate with some people, somewhere, and I firmly believe that your art will be found if you just put it out there, not on social media, just out there.
Am I good ? Aha… yes, that’s a trick question, there is no good ! Am I feeling like i’m just doing what I like doing ? is this a privilege to be able to do it ? Yes… for sure. I do what I do, the way I do it, and should it resonate with someone, it was made to be !
My step father asked me last month if I would not like to find a job in a company as a photographer or back in another field, working a 5 day week from 9 to 5 and I answered that I could not imagine worse scenario for my life. The thrill of planning my life with new adventures daily, creating new content for new and existing clients on a regular basis, the joy of trial and error, and the fun of learning from failure (which is by the way the best way to learn… failure being just finding another way for things not to work). Well all this really makes my professional life worth every second and my art grows day by day.
My most precious wish for you is to experience the art of not caring about what others think of your art, and just enjoy the same thrill I do in my life.
I would love to know how your path is going in comments, so feel free to drop me a line, whenever, if this was useful for you, and for my part, i’m heading out, creating things I like, which resonate with me, and take me out of my comfort zone, just because i’m letting go of who I am, my ego, and my need to find approbation from my peers. I’m going to create, have fun, and continue, day in, day out, because I can’t imagine a life without doing that, without enjoying myself, either through writing, through taking pictures, through connecting people, because that’s my creative path.
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