In the past, being a creative sometimes meant being called strange or different. You’d sometimes feel out of place or have a hard time fitting in, unless you were lucky enough to know a few other creatives.
But today, things are a little different. Where creativity used to be seen as just an added tick to someone’s personality, the creatives of today rule the world.
Now, it’s not about logic or numbers – computers can do that. What every creative offers is something that no computer can do – they can put together ideas and concepts that no one has ever thought of before.
This is why the rest of the world is now trying to embrace the whole concept of creativity and is finding ways to make that side of their brain rule over the other. But how can you really reach that level of creativity where creative juices just continue to flow?
You make creativity a lifestyle. And this is how you do it.
Never underestimate the power of education
People say that creativity is not something you learn in the classroom. And although there are people who were naturally born to be creative, education plays a huge role both for natural creatives and for those who are still in the process of discovering their creativity.
If you’re still trying to find your creative spirit, attend classes. Take part in conventions and seminars. Be on the lookout for creative conferences you can attend. Thanks to technology, you don’t even have to leave your room to educate yourself. There are webinars you can sign up for and YouTube videos to watch. There’s so much material out there, all you need to do is set the wheels in motion.
Surround yourself with creatives
Who better to trust to help your creativity bloom than other creatives?
Find people who are just as passionate about their art and lean on every word they say. Study their habits and their inspirations. Ask them questions and exchange opinions with them. Note that this group should be a mix of people you admire, people who inspire you, and people who have a thirst for knowledge just like you, as well as people whose styles differ from yours. A healthy mix of people will ensure that you can see every discussion from different perspectives.
Also, don’t be afraid to hang out with people who have had far more experience than you; people who have gone farther than where you are at the moment. Never feel that you are beneath them, and are therefore unworthy to be around them. This kind of mentality will get you nowhere. These people know what you’re going through because they have been there, and they can give you advice that none of your peers would be able to give you.
Don’t rush it
Becoming a pro does not happen overnight. Even child prodigies who were born with advanced levels of creativity had to go through a lot of steps before getting to where they are. Never rush it, and never give in to impatience. This will only make you feel frustrated and could become counter-productive.
Enjoy every moment of the learning process and take baby steps to make sure you are able to fully absorb every learning opportunity, every lesson, every takeaway.
Learn the value of sharing
Isn’t it frustrating when you come across creatives who just clamp up and refuse to talk about their work? Sadly, there are so many creatives out there who would rather keep their talents to themselves and to paying clients. They do not believe that supporting up-and-coming creatives would help them. Rather, they see that as a threat, as a way of grooming their future competition.
Learn from this and go the opposite direction. The creative world should be a place of positivity and support, not a place where people bring each other down. Share your work and your insights. This would, in turn, encourage other creatives to share with you as well, and this open communication will allow a deep understanding of different approaches to take.
Of course, you also have to know your limits. Be generous, but don’t give everything away for free.
Embrace negative feedback
The more you expose yourself and your work to other people, the more open you’ll be to criticism. Instead of going right back to your cave and avoiding the punches, just roll with them. Remember that negative feedback should not be taken personally. Instead, these should be used as areas for improvement.
Consider each and every criticism you receive for your work. Never answer back with “This is who I am” or “They just don’t understand my work.” This only means that you are close-minded, and the moment this happens, you also push back any opportunity for learning and growth.
Try working on the areas pointed out to you and see if things become better with the suggestions. If it doesn’t work for you and you still prefer your old style, then that’s great! You were able to prove that your idea was better all along. But if you try out new suggestions and find that your work does improve, then that’s great, too! Admit that this makes things so much better and celebrate the fact that you found a way to improve your work and grow as an artist.
Set aside some creative time
“But that’s what I’ve been doing all this time!”
Well, if you’ve been working on client projects left and right, although that requires a lot of creativity, this does not qualify as “creative time.” “Creative time is quality time between you and the world, not just between you and work. ”
Set aside an hour or two each day to just feed the creative in you. Walk around outside and take time to absorb every detail – that cityscape, the people around you, the cracks on the pavement, the movement around. Go to different shows and laugh, cry, and feel other emotions with other people. Explore nature and find the beauty in natural art.
When you have perfected the art of spending quality time with the world, you also learn to draw inspiration from just about anything. And from here, you’ll encounter fewer moments where you’re banging your head on the desk to force new ideas to come out.
Don’t set limitations
This is a trap that a lot of creatives have fallen into. Sadly, this is also one reason why a lot of creatives do not get ahead. They decide that their forte is one style, and they never move away from that. They limit themselves to what they believe they’re best at and fail to discover other ways to do things in the process.
So you’ve perfected one art style or a single approach. That’s awesome, keep it up! But continue experimenting with other styles and other approaches. You may not be as great at them now, but through constant experimentation, it will get better. Remember that potential clients vary in their preferences and needs. What happens when a lot of potential clients prefer something else aside from your specialty? You immediately shut out a huge percentage of the market, something that won’t be good for you if you decide to take this career path seriously.
Move away from the obvious
Writers read the works of their favorite authors. Artists look at the works of their favorite illustrators. Singers listen to their favorite lyrics. But can’t writers find inspiration from the music made by musicians, and can’t singers be enthused by amazing graphic art?
Never stick the usual sources of inspiration. Remember that inspiration can be found anywhere as long as you open your senses to them.
Squeeze in a few menial tasks
When you’ve been working on a specific project day and night and you find yourself out of ideas, don’t push yourself any further. You’ll only squeeze yourself dry and you’ll end up in a worse rut.
When working on any project, give yourself some time away from the desk. Work for a few hours, then step away and prepare a snack. Work a few hours more, then get up and make yourself some coffee. Work for another few hours, then get up and toss some stuff into the dishwasher.
What does all this have to do with you being creative?
Your brain needs rest. You are not a robot. By giving yourself time to work on menial tasks that do not really require a lot of brainpower, you allow your mind to reboot and recharge. Try it out yourself. You’ll find that when you get back to work, your mind will feel fresh and new, ready to attack more parts of the project you’re working on with added ferocity.
“You see, creativity is not just a personality trait – it’s an actual lifestyle. ” It’s not just something you’re born with – it’s something you hone and develop through time.
This is why the moment you decide to be a creative, it also comes with the decision for you to change your lifestyle. Remember that leaving your comfort zone is the only way for you to grow, develop, and advance. Stay within the limitations you have set for yourself and you’ll find yourself in the same place you started from, no matter how much time passes by.
This article was originally published on August 22, 2016. It was last updated on May 7, 2020.