6 Things I’ve Learned About Creative Work So Far
1. You can’t force being creative
Sometimes I will work and work on something, even when my brain is tired. While I may be adding up pages and words, I later look back and realize I have no idea what I’m doing. Instead I should take a break and revisit when my mind has more flexibility.
2. Exercising/walking helps brain function
People always talk about exercise and brain health etc. But aside from all of that, some of my best ideas have come from taking a long walk somewhere! Even since I was a kid, I would walk or bike around my neighbourhood and think of story ideas and then I would go home and write it out on my Windows 98 computer and save it on my floppy disk *tear*. I find I have to remind myself to get out of the house more, and that taking a walk and getting fresh air while thinking still counts as working! In the colder months this can be challenging – so I will take a stroll in one of our bigger malls or walk in our underground pathway beneath the city.
3. Everything really does take time
Everyone always says this. No matter how much I hate this, it won’t change. And over the years I’ve found out it’s so, so true. Especially for writing – it takes time if you’re putting in your best work and if you’re new at it. This makes me frustrated sometimes because there are so many things I want to try/do but I want to finish my current projects first. So sometimes I need to take a step back, stop worrying about the end goal and try to learn to enjoy the process. It’s not easy, but the end goal is not the point, it’s the journey.
4. Working on multiple projects can help when you get stuck
There are times when you need to take a break from a project when you’re not quite sure how to move forward, or you’ve been staring at it for such a long time you need to change things up. I always like to be working on something and when I get stuck I move over to another project for a while – sometimes it can be a different kind of project or medium or an entirely different art altogether. This helps take the pressure off and when I go back through my rotation of projects I am refreshed and excited again. Beware that if you do this too much it will take you much, much longer to finish things.
5. Don’t always have your heart set on a vision
I wrote a version of the novel I’m writing now a few years ago. It was so completely different back then but my heart was set on it and I loved it and didn’t want to change it. Fast forward to now, this story has changed almost completely. And it was for the best! I was totally going in the wrong direction and the more I work on it the better it becomes. If I had my heart set on what I thought it needed to be it wouldn’t have evolved like it has now. I feel like this goes for lifestyles/careers as well. Everything in the world is changing so fast – including in the arts and how things are done in many industries. Those who thrive on change will still be around in the future. People who are still trying to make floppy disks or the same block buster movies that have already been done a million times may be in for a tough surprise when those industries have/will change or evaporate completely.
6. You can start/restart/change things at any time!!
When I was younger I really loved both writing and music, but I always leaned towards music. I really thought I was going to be in a punk rock band and go on tour and live a certain *ahem* lifestyle. But as I got older and as my health changed, I started to think about the reason why I wanted to make music and write. At one point I realized that writing was something I’ve always done no matter what. Even when I wasn’t focusing on it, ideas were still turning in the back of my mind. The more I focused more on writing, that same thing didn’t happen for music. To me, music was an idea I had my heart set on when I was younger and I wanted to prove to everyone that I could be successful. But when I thought about that reason, it didn’t feel very authentic. In 10-15 years, people I went to school with are not going to care what I’m doing, and that’s not a good reason to be planning my life around. So I put most of my time and energy into writing and other creative projects and as time went on I realized more and more that it was the right choice for me.