Creative Something

Articles tagged “inspiration”

Give yourself a break: everyone gets stuck


It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re not feeling as creative as you’d like. But frustration is just another hinderance in the creative process, one that we must find a way to overcome in order to get back to creating.

But here you are, stuck.

You’ve tried everything you heard would help. Maybe you went for a walk, tried brainstorming with a friend or coworker, or you spent the equivalent of a full work day browsing for inspiration online.

You should have had a good idea by now, you think to yourself.

I don’t want you think having creative ideas is easy. The insights don’t always fly in when you need them most. In-fact: they hardly ever will.

We see and hear about these geniuses of our time, they seem to consistently have one good idea after the other, but the reality is quite the opposite: everyone gets stuck, even creative geniuses.

The difference between them and you is that they keep trying, they don’t let the fact that no good ideas are coming right now (or tomorrow, or the next day) stop them from doing the work.

Of course, there are things you can try to calm your brain and (with some luck) get the ideas flowing. One thing you can do right now to try and break away from the frustration is to literally break away for a while. Go for a walk with a friend and talk about anything but the creative work you’re trying to do. Go take a nap. Go watch a new movie. You could also try using any of the 150 techniques in the creative app oflow.

What’s important isn’t to get the ideas going again right away. More important is allowing yourself to not feel overwhelmed by the fact that ideas aren’t coming. Accept that it’s normal! It doesn’t mean you’re any less creative or intelligent or useful.

The reason you’re stuck isn’t that you can’t have good ideas, or that you don’t have all you need to have them, it’s much more likely that you’re stressing yourself out and restricting your attention. That’s it.

If you feel like you should be having good ideas, but aren’t, don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Give yourself a break, give yourself some slack.

Read this next: Get out of your own way

“There could be something 10 times greater than what you’re doing, but you don’t realize it because you’re fixated on the thing you feel like you should be doing.”

Love this blurb from The Great Discontent interview with Merlin Mann.

It’s a good reminder to stay foolish and curious for what comes next. Try new things, experiment, don’t be afraid to step away from what you think you’re supposed to be doing.

Posted at 12:22 pm

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.

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

“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

“Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now.”

Ira Glass in his interview with Lifehacker

Posted at 12:02 pm