What makes you different

Doing nothing is easy. It always has been.

Sitting down to turn on the TV, procrastinating at work, taking a longer break than you really need, spending a day trying to find the “perfect” pen, handing a task off to somebody else, putting off opening that book until tomorrow, anybody can do those things.

Taking action, that’s hard. But the acts you take – putting the pen to the paper, opening up that book, grinding down and doing the work you know that needs to be done, even when you really don’t want to – are what easily sets those with creative motivations apart from everyone else. It’s the act of taking action makes you different.

As a creator, it’s the actions we take that define us. An artist isn’t an artist until she’s put the pen or brush to the canvas. A writer can never be a writer until they’ve written something.

And the work isn’t going to be easy or fun. In-fact: more often than not it will be daunting and occasionally painful.

But you have to remember that the very reasons you don’t want to do something are the reasons you should be, as a creative. Why? Because nobody else wants to do those things either. By doing the work, you’re setting yourself apart from the millions of other people who could have.

As Steven Pressfield once wrote: “Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”

Want a creative boost? Stop creating

You know the feeling you get when you’re so involved in something that you simply can’t stop?

It’s not that you really can’t stop, more like you don’t want to (because you’re so deep in the middle of something that might work, or something exciting, or something that is looking perfect). From one creative to another I’m going to tell you a secret about those moments. Are you ready?

Whenever you’re feeling like you shouldn’t stop working: stop.

Stopping when you’re feeling in the prime of a work of art or a project can do a lot of good things for both you and the work. The biggest impact of stopping while you’re deeply involved in something is that it gives your brain time to re-energize and therefore keep pressing on long after that prime moment has passed.

Consider this: your brain breaks down glucose in order to create energy to think, essentially.

In-fact: right now, as you read this, your brain is burning through about 1.5 calories a minute, just to think.

When you dedicate yourself to working on one project or piece of work for an extended period of time, you’re burning through a lot of energy with your brain and, just like any other muscle in the body, you risk wearing it out quickly.

Take a break and give your brain a rest, the best time to do so is right when you’re in the middle of feeling on top of all the work.

By stopping when you’re in that “perfect” moment of creation, you’re not only giving your brain a well‒deserved break, you’re also ensuring that you have something to jump right back into when your break is over.

If you’re a writer it’s the middle of a great sentence. If you’re a painter or artist it’s the moment when the lines and colors and shades are all starting to come together.

Stop when you feel like going on forever, your brain and project will be extremely glad you did.

Photo by Frederic Bisson.

Be an explorer today

Creativity flourishes when you experiment and explore the unknown.

When you try anything new, you’re exploring new ideas – even when you don’t consciously feel as though you are – and that leads to new insights in your life. Any time you attempt something new and experiment, your brain stores the experience away for future reference.

The more you know, the more creative you can be.

While trying at least one thing new every day can benefit your creative capacity, attempting a whole slew of new things regularly is what will really help you to be creative.

True creative geniuses work tirelessly to experiment with new ideas nearly every waking hour. You certainly don’t have to dedicate all of your time to trying new things, but any opportunity you get to try something new or different is an opportunity to expand your knowledge, to fuel your creativity, and to explore.

Today, explore the unknown around you. Do more than try just one new thing today. Dedicate today to experimentation and exploration however you can. Just try it today and see where it brings you.

Photo by Stephen Brace.

Do you need to spend money to be creative?

There is an apparent desire for more or betterproducts in those who create.

An artist longs for a larger or better designed canvas. A writer seeks out a more fluid pen or a more personable writing application. Both students and entrepreneurs look diligently for the perfect cafe to sit down and get started in. The creative evangelist searches repeatedly for the next big book of inspiration.

It makes you wonder if spending money is a natural part of being creative.

If you want to be a painter, after-all, you have to be able to buy paint. But the fallacy lies in the type and quality of paint you’re seeking out.

If you want to write, you need nothing more than the computer in front of you and a very basic text editor (which comes free with nearly any type of device these days). But you don’t even need that if you have a very basic pen and a scrap of paper.

To be a artist all you need, again, is a scrap of paper and something (anything) to draw with. To be a teacher you simply need something to teach. To do your homework or write out a business plan or put together a blog post you don’t need a cafe with cushioned seats and the perfect size of cappuccino; you just need somewhere to sit.

You don’t need to spend money to be creative (or to become more creative). You simply need the desire to be creative, or to learn, or explore, to be strong enough to use what you’ve already got.

Everything is a blank piece of paper to those who want to draw bad enough.

Photo by Daniella Echeverria.

One fact that will change your life

Say what you will about Steve Jobs, but the man had a lot of good ideas. Jobs knew that every one of us has the capacity to change the world with our creativity.

Consider this one fact about life Steve gave in an interview years and years ago. This one, simple fact, that can change your life forever. Watch the short, 45 second video here:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it.”