Creative Something

Articles tagged “motivation”

And what comes next?


I think that’s a reliable question for uncovering the value of ideas: “What comes next?”

If you’re unable to answer that question realistically (six times in a row for any single idea), you should rethink the idea.

You have an idea for a new business… and what comes next? Testing the market, naming the business, seeking funding?

You realize there’s a cafe down the street perfect for hanging your paintings… and what comes next? Who would be the right person to talk to about getting the work hung? Why your work? Why that spot?

You have an idea for a novel that you think is completely unique… and what comes next? How can you validate the uniqueness? Who would hear (or, in this case, read) what you have to say?

It’s not uncommon to have an idea, think it’s the best thing in the world, and then watch it slowly melt into the recesses of your mind, never to be thought again.

Instead of lettings ideas go to waste, it’s worth spending an extra five minutes, right now to ask yourself what comes next.

You’ve got the idea, what are you going to do with it now?



When an idea strikes, act

You have to take action if you want to succeed

Photo by Duncan Hull.

Deciding and diving


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.


Seth Godin on getting rid of fear

Everything is easier once you start

Starting and the fear of breaking things

Photo by Thomas Quine.

Fearlessness in creativity is a myth


“Creative people are confident in only one thing: their own doubt. I think there’s a huge lack of self-confidence in a creative person because, by nature, the definition of a creative person is someone who is trying to make something new….They build within that city of doubt.” – John Maeda

A terrible misconception exist that professional, successful creative individuals escape from the plague of fear. For those few, the malady of self doubt is gone.

The truth is nothing is further from the truth. Our biological safety system latches onto to any risk it can find regardless of the actual threat to your well being. Emotional and creative risks fire up the fear response exactly like the possibility of a nearby lion.

The fear never goes away.

Bravery often merely masquerades as fearlessness. From an outside observer, the two traits function in similar ways. However, the difference is that fearlessness is a state of being and bravery is a choice.

There is no partial fearlessness. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition made impossible by the fact that you can’t control your fear response. Bravery, however, is the choice to act despite the fear.

Creatives become defined by this bravery. It is the daily act of turning into your fear and pushing past it.

Since bravery is a choice, it is also a skill. It is no different than deciding to go to the gym or not eat an entire box of donuts. How can you practice bravery? Find a small task that will generate those fears and self doubt and repetitively push past them.

Joel Runyon’s solution is called “Cold Shower Therapy.” Take a cold shower for 30 days. The excuses generated to avoid the cold shower match any other creative endeavor. Practice pushing through the “reasons” and just do it.

Be brave. We all are fighting our own doubts. Your doubts are the same as your creative idols. They just practiced bravery longer and better than you.


Cold shower therapy

What it really means to fail

Facing fears, doing work, and a single serving of life

Poster: It’s only by overcoming the fear of what our ideas may become that we discover what we’re really capable of

Jon Wilkening

This article was written by pinhole photographer, Jon Wilkening. To see more adventures in the wonderful world of film photography, art, and creativity, follow him on Twitter.

Creativity takes guts


Hoping that your next idea is the next big idea is silly.

Yet we so often find ourselves working on, or seeking out, ideas that are perfect, ideal, better than anything else out there (at least in our mind).

The result is either failure to start or a failure to launch, both of which come about as a result of fear. Of course, when this happens we fail to discover whether our ideas really were worthwhile or possibly the next big idea. We fear our ideas may not be valuable, so we don’t make them real, which makes it impossible to determine whether the ideas were worthwhile or not. Silly, right?

To get an idea out of our heads and into the world takes work, yes, it also requires that you have an idea to begin with. Hopefully the idea is at least somewhat worthwhile, it’s certainly possible that the idea really is the next best thing. But more importantly: creativity takes guts.

What if nobody likes this? Why would anyone care if they knew anyone else could do the same thing? What makes this special? Is this really better than what already exists? Who am I to make this a reality?

We face these questions any time an idea pops into our heads, big or small. But the best ideas – the wonder breads, the Facebooks, the automobiles – all started as just another idea, not something to change the world or inspire millions. All ideas start the same, whether we believe they do or not.

The first personal computer was never intended to evolve into the iPhones and Android phones we have today. The first aircraft wasn’t intended to be a way for transporting products or medical aid across the world overnight. Picasso began sketching out Portrait of Igor Stravinsky because he enjoyed doing it, not because he wanted it to become a historically remarkable work of art.

When I started Creative Something, my goal was to research creativity and share what I discovered, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, would find it inspiring. Today the blog has 100,000 subscribers, but that’s never something I imagined nearly seven years ago when the project began.

My point is this: You don’t need to come up with the next big idea. Your ideas don’t need to be the best, or even your best. What’s more important is that you have ideas, and that you have the guts to see them through.

You won’t know what your ideas can become until you get them onto the canvas, captured on film, somehow out in front of the world. That’s what matters.


Starting and the fear of breaking things

A note on creating something imperfect

Poster: Ideas are worthless until you get them out of your head to see what they can do

Fear of the critical finish line

When can you call yourself creative?

Photo by Nicki Varkevisser.

The inevitable impact of doing a lot of creative work


“You aren’t going to change the world with your ideas.”

But why not at least try? What have we got to lose?

Often I encounter people who have ideas but never do more than sit and think about them. They tell me, “I have this great idea,” but when I ask how it’s going a month later, I’m told the idea fizzled out. “What’s the point?” is a typical reason. Others include not knowing where to start, the fear of failure, or uncertainty in general.

Whatever the creative goal – be it writing a book, starting a business, opening a shop, becoming a prolific painter, you name it – your job is to do the work. No matter what. Even if you don’t know where to start. Even if you’re afraid the end result will be failure.

Really the worst case scenario is you do fail. Your book doesn’t get published. Your business closes its doors. Your paintings don’t hang in a gallery.

But even failure is a victory for creativity, in a lot of ways.

Failing helps us learn (even when we’re not consciously aware of it). More importantly, I think failure allows us to create a lot of varied work, work that may not fulfill our goals or help us reach our vision, but work that can ultimately inspire or motivate others. It’s through any work we do that we do, in-fact, change the world; arguably for the better.

It’s impossible to know what will be a success, but you can improve the odds of encountering it by producing a lot of work.

For years I’ve been writing here on Creative Something. For many, many years people ignored what I wrote. Countless posts have gone onto the graveyard that is the Internet archive, never to be read again. But after writing for so long I’m beginning to learn that people are reading these posts.

Sometimes it’s a few thousand people, other times it’s only a handful.

What I’ve learned is that the handful are motivated enough from what I write to go on and do something with what they’ve read. They act on it, they teach it to others, and while I may not so the fruit of their labors, I know I’ve made an impact in at least one or two or a dozen people’s lives. And that impact inevitably grows. My intents may have failed, but the impact of my efforts have led to a very large and worthwhile reward.

Even failure in producing creative work can be promising.

No, you don’t have to set out to improve the world or change lives, but by merely doing creative work (a lot of it) you undoubtedly will. If your work doesn’t make you a lot of money, give you a reputation, or propel you into the place you want to be, it can, at the very least, inspire or motivate others. But you have to do the work to get even there.

Don’t wait, start today, right now.


Yes! Your creativity is what the world needs

Creating isn’t easy, try not to forget

What about after you’re a success?

“As creative thinkers, we want to make progress, and we want to move big ideas forward. So, it’s no surprise that the best motivator is being empowered to take action.”

Jocelyn Glei on What motivates us to do great work

Posted at 11:24 am