“The outcome of any particular endeavor is just another middle chapter, just another starting point for something else.”
“Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you’ve got, and fix it along the way.”
To be a writer you simply need to write. That’s the hard part for most people.
Similarly, you can’t be a painter without painting. To hang your photos in a gallery, you must first take the photos and then send them to galleries for consideration. If you want to be a musician, write the music or play the instrument and do it where someone can hear you.
Why, then, do so many of us get caught-up trying to take that first step to accomplishing our creative goal? Where do we get hung up?
Fear, I would argue, is the culprit. Fear of failing, fear that we’re making the wrong choice, fear that this isn’t our best work, fear that we’ll be found out as a fake or phony (which is a topic for another day).
These fears we face whenever we pursue any creative endeavor are certainly real, but that doesn’t make them valid or worthy of hindering our progress. More-importantly: the fears we face are often merely fabrications of our imagination, to the point where we are nearly always (I’d like to argue that it is actually always) better off ignoring the fears and doing the work anyway.
If you want to be a famed novelist, for example, you have to first write the words (it doesn’t really matter what words, only that you write them). If those mix of words don’t workout all that great, then guess what: you can try again with new words.
The same goes for painting, starting a business, creating a fashion line, photography, designing architecture, becoming a musician, and nearly anything else in life.
Even if you don’t sell a dozen copies or hear from a dozen fans, even if the work doesn’t make your career, even if you feel like you could have done more or better, you’ve done two things that are immensely valuable.
The first thing you’ve done by accomplishing the work is something very few people do: the work. You’ve overcome the fear, you’ve pushed past boundaries, you made something happen. That’s remarkable, by the way. Put that on your resume or portfolio.
The second thing is you’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. Maybe you don’t even realize it. But by tackling the work – by writing the book, by publishing your songs, by contacting the museum curator – you’ve got that experience under your belt. You should now know that you can do it, firstly, and that you can try something a little differently next time.
You can’t discover what’s possible and learn what to do the next time around if you let fear stand in your way.
To be creative successful – to achieve our creative goals – we have to first decide what it is we want to do, we have to decide a course of action to take, and we have to believe that it’ll be worthwhile to follow-through even in the face of failure.
No excuses, decide what you want to do (it doesn’t have to be perfect either, just pick something) and do it.
As long as you’re not jumping out of an airplane without a parachute or tempting rabid dogs with your bare skin, you’ll be fine.
One way I’ve found for defeating the fear associated with creative work (or really any work) is to just dive-in, leap without thinking. For most of the work you want to do there will be no repercussions you can’t recover from. If you wait too long, if you think too much, fear will grow until you can’t move. You have to leap before your brilliant brain has a chance to develop those fears.
Don’t wait for the fear to get a hold of you, start now. Take that first step toward accomplishing your vision, however small that step may be.
Photo by Thomas Quine.
Looking for a new book to read? Creative Something has a stellar, curated list of creative thinking books called A Creative Library. New books have just been added.
Whether you’re an artist looking to find inspiration, a teacher looking for class material, or a writer hoping to improve your abilities, you’re going to find something worth reading in the library.
“Yes, you can teach creativity. You give people a set of tools and techniques and approaches, and you help them gain the necessary mindset. Creativity is a result of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that allow you to be a problem-solver.”
The always great Tina Seelig explains how to teach creativity in her interview with VentureBeat.
It’s easy to find what you’re most passionate about, if you are willing to spend the time searching for it.
In order to do that, you first have to try new things. From there you look at how you spend your time once your capabilities have grown.
But it starts with trying new things, a lot of them and often. Drawing, painting, dancing, architecture, jewelry making, running, theatre acting, sound production, ceramic making, wine tasting, writing, fencing, cooking, you name it.
Trying new things can be daunting. Where do you start? What if you don’t have a lot of money?
The thing with trying new things is that there is someone, somewhere, who knows how to do it and will be willing to teach you for free or for a small price. Even better: you can do a free, quick search online and find tips, how tos, and dedicated groups for learning those new things as well.
For example, over the weekend I decided to try my hand at fine jewelry making. Somewhat characteristically bizarre for me, the idea of taking precious metals and turning it into a painstakingly detailed accessory is intriguing. I started by doing an online search for how other people make fine jewelry and the results surprised me. In less than an hour I knew what it would take for me to get started. In my case: a few small, simple tools and resources, most of which I was able to pick-up at my local Home Depot in an hour. I expect to create my first piece this week, and I’m excited at the prospect of trying this new process for something I have never done before.
To find what you’re passionate about you must first be willing to try many new things.
Of course, once you start trying new things, keep going. Try even more new things. You’ll find that, after some time, you come back to certain activities. Maybe this week you’re trying your hand at artisan baking, but you wind-up drawing a few sketches one afternoon because last time it was so enjoyable.
Your interests will change as you try new things, but how you find yourself spending your time is going to become your passion, your calling.
One day you may wake up and realize that writing makes you happier than anything else, even on the days you struggle to come up with anything worthwhile.
Another day you might suddenly realize that your love for writing has dwindled, that you instead love to spend your time debating philosophy with acquaintances. That’s good, passions change as we do.
So, then, the way to find what you’re passionate about is to try a lot of things often, then look at how you’re spending your time. What you dedicate yourself to most is your passion. Easy enough, right?
The hard part of finding your passion, I would argue, is getting started. It’s dedicating yourself to trying new things now, then taking the steps required to actually trying them.
Start now, today. Make a list of things you’d like to try, then start with the first one on your list by researching what it would take to make that happen. Then make it happen.