You would be shocked at the number of people out there that actually identify as creatives; writers, passionate photographers, poets, painters, novelists, budding film directors, script writers, dancers, songwriters, singers and music creators. As I travel around the world, I meet so many of them and I face what is perhaps the saddest reality that I have faced yet; many of them are unfulfilled and unproductive.
The Internationally acclaimed speaker, preacher and adviser to heads of states, Dr Myles Munroe (of blessed memory) hit the bullseye about the situation with creatives when he made this statement;
“The wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”
I always say that creativity is a function of the soul (mind) and the soul is mostly undisciplined. The soul is the generator and repository of dreams and yet it wouldn’t lift a finger to bring them to actualization except we form healthy habits that compel us to act on the creativity of our soul.
In this article, I will share a few of the habits that have helped me personally in edging closer to my creative goals. Every creative should embrace these habits if they are struggling with a life of dreams and no conquest.
Do something Instantly
Right now as I write this article, something else is calling for my attention and it seems reasonably urgent. However, I am choosing to sit down and to keep writing. The reason is simple; the idea to write this article just came to me and I have to do something about it instantly.
You cannot complete a novel at a sitting admittedly, but if you don’t put pen to paper at that eureka moment, you may never do it again and you will have to carry the burden of an unfulfilled idea…few things feel heavier to the mind of creative.
Creating a habit of doing a bit of the work immediately is one way of ensuring that you continue later on. It’s always harder to leave a work incomplete than it is to start a work that just exists in you head.
Set Yourself Up
I figured this tip out the first time I tried writing a book. I was in my final year in college and I had my birthday coming up at about the same time as my graduation ceremony. I had harbored this book idea for years and I was staring at the very real and even likely possibility of graduating without achieving that one goal. Then this idea came to me;
I walked up to the podium one day (I was the president of a large student body) and I announced that I was going to release my book on the same day I was throwing a graduation and birthday party. I hadn’t put pen to paper at this time, but needless to say I had to after that.
It was much later that I realized that this was the idea behind Musicians announcing a release date for their songs when they are still in the studio. They are setting themselves us to succeed, to meet their targets. If it remains a goal in your mind, you may not have enough motivation to actually get it done.
You may not have a podium to address hundreds of students like I did, but you have a friend, friends, social groups, mentors, pastors and even a Facebook wall! The next habit I am going to talk about is scheduling, but even that habit can be weak unless you have built some accountability by setting yourself up to succeed.
Scheduling Your Creative Processes
Creative processes need strong habits to flourish… any form of disorder could cause a creative block. After I set myself up to write the book, I decided to write every single day from 3am till 5am. I had my days filled with my final year lectures and thesis work, so I had to use the early hours of the morning.
I would wake up with a start on a daily basis, dreading the calls of the many people that wanted to know how the book was coming on, then I will seat at my table and type away! It was hard at the beginning and I barely got 100 words on paper, but my body adjusted with the consistency of the habit and I could type almost 3000 words at one sitting.
Whether you are a writer like me or a songwriter or a poet, this habit will help you get work done and to eventually reach your goal.
Just Create, Deal With The Aesthetics Later
Admittedly this may not work with some creatives like painters and photographers, but it works a great deal with most of the others. Whether it is a song, an article, a book or script… the key to starting is starting.
It is a well known fact that most creatives have a variant of the melancholy temperament and while this can be a blessing it can also be a curse. We keep waiting for the perfect time. To use a biblical reference… “He that considereth the clouds will never sow!”
My advise? Just get it written, get a sketch in the studio. Don’t be too bothered at first if the work is not perfect, if the conversations are not witty enough… just write, don’t even bother so much about your punctuation.
The hardest part of creating is getting the idea out of your mind and unto the canvas, screen or pad. Once that is done, the aesthetics can be taken care of later.
Your Environment Matters A Great Deal
You know that heaviness you feel whenever you know you need to get up from the bed and do some work and you just don’t feel up to it? It often stems from your environment. Creativity works with the right kind of mood and our environment affects our moods more than most things.
The mind is fueled by order and beauty. To borrow another biblical reference from the creation story; “The earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters and God said, Let there be light”
God needed light before he started creating and we need some illumination and beauty as well. A dark and dank room, clothes everywhere and a bad smell may be the very reason your mind never seems capable of waking up. Even that broken window in your studio and the dust on the frame may subconsciously be affecting your mind.
A habit of cleanliness will go a long way… I usually seek out natural environments where I could write under the shade of a tree and the scent of nature around me. You must create some order in your personal life, even in your relationships or you may remain stuck. The mind is perhaps the most sensitive organ we have… if you will thrive by its products you must give it the best of environments.
These are just a few tips that I live by… there is no reason you cannot live by them too! Now Go create!