Every single person who has embarked on some kind of creative endeavor should be aware of two things.
Your creativity is personal and unique, as are your struggles
The elation of creativity and the pain of struggling, however, are universal.
Keeping these things in mind, on our most recent podcast, we explored 4 stages of creativity that we believe any creative person can relate to. For the full discussion, you can, of course, listen to the podcast. But if you don’t have the time, here are some basic notes and thoughts you might still find valuable.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but sometimes it just… doesn’t. When you’re at a place where you feel an urge to do something but feel as though you don’t have any ideas worth pursuing, take a step back and remember that sometimes an output problem is actually an input problem. Look for inspiration in the world around you. Read a book, go on a trip, look at the stars, talk to a friend, listen to a podcast.
The important thing is not to force it. Don’t do anything just because you feel like you need to do something. But also maybe you should just make yourself sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and see what comes out when you put your pencil down. This idea is why journaling can be such a rewarding habit. In the act of expression, we might find ourselves scribbling something worth grabbing on to.
For most people who pursue a creative life professionally, the moment of inspiration was way back when you decided to throw caution to the wind and become a full-time creative. What happens next might always be inspired, but if you have clients expecting it to get done, it need to get done. That’s where hustle comes in.
Even if your creativity isn’t professional, hustle is a necessary thing to focus on when we feel like jumping to next project, or simply not doing anything for awhile. Hustle isn’t always fun, but making the effort to keep going even when it’s not inspired is what will take your creative skills to the next level and push you to the next stage of your career.
This is the hard one. Every other stage can be talked about philosophically, with prosaic and inspiring statements. But none of that matters when you find yourself in a low moment.
These moments happen, where it feels like nothing you’re doing matters, no one will ever care what you have to say, and you’re ultimately going to be doomed to a mediocre life. What on earth do you actually do in these situations?
There are some practical things that sometimes help. You can remind yourself of past successes or you can look for inspiration in the things that got you started in the first place. But these don’t always work. Sometimes it’s okay to just take a personal day, a mental health day, and allow yourself to rest.
What’s important to remind yourself of is the fact that disillusionment never lasts forever. Don’t become too hard on yourself, and keep in mind that you’ve felt bad before, but you’ve always come out the other end a stronger and more compassionate person.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Another word for this phase is satisfaction - when the thing is finally done. The important thing here is to balance two perspectives. On one hand, celebrate what you just accomplished. Relish, and do not forget, the struggles that you went through to get there. On the other hand, don’t stop there! Start looking for the next thing, the next project, and do it all again.
The creative process is not an easy thing to undergo. This is one of the biggest mistakes that creatives make - thinking that because they like writing, designing, etc. that they’ll love to do it all the time. Creativity is grueling, but the sense of satisfaction that accompanies having made something is unparalleled.
If you’re a creative who doesn’t take your trade for granted and is ready to dig deep into conversations about the creative life, check out The Reindeer Club podcast on itunes. You can also stay up to date about episodes and blog posts by looking up The Reindeer Club on Facebook and Instagram.