Creative Something

All you need is five minutes to do creative work


What are you waiting for?

If you want to write a book, you need to write. But maybe you’re not at your desk, maybe you’re too tired, maybe you’ve lost track of the storyline. What do you do?

The answer – whether you’re writing a book, or anything – is: anything you can.

Even if you don’t have all the tools, or all the answers, even if you aren’t exactly sure what comes next, there is something you can do.

Maybe that something is to get out your notebook or phone and create a simple list of what you need to move forward. Better yet: make the list, then set a reminder for yourself. Because it’s that list, and that reminder, that will not only serve as the first step, but they also provide you with the actionable momentum to take that next step.

If you want to start a new painting project, or a website, or a business, or a song, or whatever, do whatever you can right now. Give yourself five minutes to do it. Just five minutes. Here’s a free online timer to get you started (pro-tip: click on the “short break” button near the top of the page).

Even if that means you spend the next five minutes only outlining what it is you need to do when you get more time later in the day, that’s something, that’s progress. For creative work, progress is everything.

Small steps add-up fast. You spend five minutes today, and tomorrow, and the next day, working on these little steps and before you know it you have a completed book draft, or a first layer of paint, a business plan, or whatever.

Like dominoes falling into place.

There’s no excuse for why you can’t spend the next five minutes making some small progress on what it is you need to be doing to make progress on your creative art.

Read this next: How to write a novel

Photo via Flickr.

“I never thought that I’d be discovered. I just thought I’d be somebody who was a hard worker. For me, things started to happen once I completely gave up the concept of being discovered. I discovered what I wanted to do. That would be my advice to young performers: don’t want to be famous. Want to be legendary. In many ways, fame is the industrial disease of creativity. It’s a sludgy byproduct of making things.”

Mike Myers (via austinkleon)

Posted at 12:59 pm

Davy Kesey: Be a better artist by being an interested artist


“The point is that you only have to understand your craft, and then apply another craft to it.”

Photographer Davy Kesey has spent the past three to five years building his craft by exploring other types; for good reason.

To Kesey, the goal of our work as creatives (from photographers and artists, to poets and scientists) is to capture a moment, tell a story, and invoke emotion. Which means the more interested you become in other mediums, the more you can learn about how to improve the stories you tell through your own craft. Kesey explains in a conversation I had with him:

“Early last spring I went to a percussion concert in which two gentlemen performed….one of the gentlemen rubbed a violin bow down the edge of different xylophone keys, producing a slightly-erie and lasting note each time….So I asked myself, how does that translate to me? I have no idea how to do ‘blank’, but I do know photography and I do know visual art. What could go in the blank?”

He continues:

Every medium is interconnected because it’s all pursuing the same objective: capturing moments….So I can improve how I do that by investing time into my craft, but I can also invest time in discovering how other creatives are doing it. We’re all chasing the same goal.”

If one of the primary points of creativity is to capture moments and convey a story, understanding the story we’re attempting to tell with our work and how we can ensure it’s seen, heard, or experienced, is the process we must go through in order to create longer lasting and more appealing work.

Kesey experienced this first hand when he took a fairly generic photo of a car beneath the New Mexico night sky. While the photo itself is captivating on some lower level, it’s the attached story – written in plain text – Kesey gave with the photo that he believes allowed it to spread across the web. The photo has since been shared more than 72,000 times.

Last Saturday at two in the morning we pulled over on the side of the road, hoping to get a little bit of sleep before continuing onwards to the Grand Canyon. I think I only got maybe one hour of sleep, if that. It was incredibly cold and sleeping in the driver’s seat of the car was not fun. Also, I ate an old burger that made me feel sick all night. It was all worth it for the view.

Understanding not only how to capture moments, but to describe them with such humanistic prose improves the experience of the photograph and the story it tells.

Kesey explains another example where he was able to overcome creative block by collaborating with a friend. The friend would take printed photographs from Kesey and sew or embroider elements onto the physical photograph.

To improve your ability to be creative, you should find yourself interested in many diverse subjects.

Whether you’re a photographer who is interested in writing, or a painter pursuing jewelry making. The more aspects you combine into your experiences, the more fuel you have for when it comes time to create.

Like the musicians Kesey witnessed pulling a violin bow across a xylophone, it’s when we combine interests that new and exciting results are born.

Follow Davy Kesey on Tumblr.

This article is part of the Creative Something Footsteps series, exploring the stories of creatives from around the world to share insights and wisdom. Submit your story here.

Read this next: Ways to discover the impossibly possible

The humble creative


You’re stuck, but you’re a professional so this is a peculiar situation, isn’t it?

You know how to write the words, or move the brush, or play the tune. You’ve done it at least one hundred times in the past. So why are you stuck?

One reason, the most common reason, is because you’re afraid. Afraid of what comes next. Afraid of failing. Afraid to set out on your own path and explore new possibilities.

Another reason, the less common but slightly more dangerous one, is that you’ve escaped humility. As a result, you’ve lost touch with what it means to be creative.

Creativity is about not knowing. It’s about embracing the fact that you know less than you think you do. It’s about finding new answers, even when you’re convinced you know them all.

When we’re humble, creativity is easy: it’s asking questions and pursuing the answers.

On the other hand: when we are convinced that we already know the answers, that our work is as good as it gets, that we’re the expert and we’re the ones who do it right, we miss an opportunity to do our best work.

We get stuck as a result.

We’ve convinced ourselves that we should know the answer to any question, the solution to any problem. So when we encounter an even slightly unfamiliar situation (where we can improvise and pursue creative answers) we stutter, we flop about, and we do fail.

If you want to be the best creative you can be, stay humble.

Sparked by a recent reminder in my own life to be humble with my work.

Read this next: To be more creative, question what you know you know

“People who are lucky make their own luck. And you only make your own luck by staying in the game.”

From 21 of the best lessons for your creative career. An important reminder today as I find myself struggling to stay motivated.

Posted at 10:13 am

Tayarisha Poe: You’ve got to be dumb and stubborn to get good


“A whole world of thinkers and creators would have died before they began if they had listened to the people telling them what not to do.”

There’s a certain level of naivety that must be in-place for creativity to occur.

When we get too comfortable with the way things are – or when we heed the guidance given to us by those who are, themselves, overly comfortable with the way things are or have always been – we close ourselves off from the doors of original thought.

If we listen to what we’re always told, we greatly hinder our ability to explore what’s possible.

It’s only by embracing naivety and finding our own way that we can open ourselves to creative thought.

Such is the case for writer, photographer, and videographer, Tayarisha Poe.

In her youth, Tayarisha had a sudden realization, that she could create what she loved most: books.

Once I figured out that all the books I loved as a kid were written by someone else, I realized I could be someone writing books too.

So she started writing. Nobody came out and told her that 13 year-olds can’t write books. So she wrote.

Then, in high school and college, Tayarisha began experimenting with other means of telling stories: through photography and video. Only this time she faced those who told her what to do and how to do it.

The professors and counselors told her she couldn’t be a photographer, and a writer, and a videographer. Instead, they told her, you have to pick one and become an expert at it.

“In college, at first, I kept being told that I had to choose between writing, filmmaking, and photography,” Tayarisha tells me, “I ignored that.”

“I can’t think of one without the other, they’re so intertwined. Of course, that isn’t to say that I don’t write stories that are only meant to be read or take photos that are only meant to stand alone. But when I’m starting a larger project, I tend to think of it as all three of these mediums coming together to tell a story.”

The result, it seems, is more vivid stories, more powerful photographs, and the combination of the two to create captivating video.

“It was in college when I realized that people usually tell you that you can’t do something because they’ve never thought to do that thing, or because when they tried it, it didn’t work. Who is to say that you won’t be the one to make it work?

Tayarisha has been diligent to work across all three mediums – the written word, photography, and videography – and her luck seems to have paid off. Her latest project, Selah and the Spades is a beautiful story in the making, paired with humanistic photography and vivid details like those you would see in a film.

It all stands to remind us that it’s not enough to do what others tell you to do (or not to do) or what works and what won’t.

To be creative is to find your own path. Listen to the advice, of course, but in the end you must find your own path to truly be creative.

You’ve got to be really dumb and stubborn in order to get good at something.

Browse Tayarisha’s portfolio, or explore her latest project: Selah and the spades.

This article is part of the Creative Something Footsteps series, exploring the stories of creatives from around the world to share insights and wisdom. Submit your story here.

Read this next: The power of naive questions