by Ron Vitale
Want to write a book, start a band, create a startup or nurture and embrace creativity but don’t know how? I can help. I want to share with you some of the myths of being creative and also give you some solid tips to overcome any fears to help you achieve your goals.
When I look back at my 20s, I see how busy I was with work, friends and kept thinking that I just didn’t have time. Now that I have a family and am married I have less time but I’ve written five novels in the last six years and dozens of blog posts. What I did not fully understand then, but do now is that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
No matter how much time we have, we’ll fill it up with work, chores or whatever and we’ll never have enough time to be creative. After a long day at work, the one thing I didn’t want to do was to sit down and write a novel. I also had problems in being consistent with my work. I kept waiting to be inspired by my muse and years went by with my output being only a few short stories.
I wanted to embrace creativity but I looked at it as a magical gift that was bestowed upon me only at certain times. Instead of enjoying the time I had to write, I saw it as a chore and another task for me to complete. My whole thinking about being creative became fret with toxic thoughts and I felt guilty for not wanting to write.
Create a Schedule
Now that I have written a few books I understand my process better and can share with you with what worked for me. In college, I used to be a night owl staying up late to write, but now with needing to be in work early I had to adapt and switch my schedule. I get up before sunrise and write on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings, I run to get in some exercise.
The schedule that I’ve created can be adapted any way that you need for it to work. Maybe you have free time at lunch or after work–whatever that free time is, make a pact with yourself and carve that time out on your schedule. Tell your friends and family about your project so that you will be held more accountable for working. You might think that this is counter-intuitive and puts a lot of pressure on you, but if you make time to be creative and then act on it, after a few weeks, you’ll be used to the time and look forward to it.
However, if you don’t embrace creativity and are stressed about what you’re doing, worry about failure and what others might think, then the creative time you’ve set aside will quickly become more a chore for you than time to have fun.
Allow Yourself to Fail
No matter if you want to paint, dance, write, or sing, give yourself the freedom to fail. As the popular saying goes, “fail fast, fail often.” The purpose of embracing creativity isn’t to be perfect, but for you to learn how to put the time in to learn a means to express yourself in a different medium. At the early stages, it’s more important to show up and allow yourself to do the work than to be concerned about whether your work is perfect. I recently finished reading Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull (president of Pixar) and he explained that, in the beginning, “all Pixar movies suck.” When I read those words, I did a double take because I couldn’t believe that anyone, let alone the president of Pixar, would think that their films were bad. But the point that Catmull makes in the book makes a lot of sense. In the first draft of a project, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done and that’s perfectly okay.
Embrace your creativity and try something. Sometimes you will fail and, over time, you’ll become better at your skill. I remember feeling the pressure of wanting to write the best book. I re-wrote it several times and tried everything I could to make it better. But what made me a better writer was simply letting go of my first novel and writing additional books. After each book, I learned something about myself, my creative process and found ways to become more efficient and in tune with myself. I began to learn when I needed rest and to take a break rather than to push on.
Navigating through the waters of failure can be challenging at first, but just remember what Thomas Edison said while he was trying to invent the lightbulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Your mindset and how you look at your work can be a weight around your neck or lift you up and inspire you to work harder. I look at my own failures as learning opportunities and experience. I take what I’ve learned, apply it, adapt and become better.
Pacing yourself and giving yourself time to grow is important. No matter what you want to be creative with, it’ll take time to practice, explore and learn. Give yourself that time.
Explore and Engage with Other Creatives
One of the reasons why I love Twitter and the internet is that I can now easily interact with fellow writers all across the world. I can Skype or use Google Hangouts to talk with people or just reach out with a simple tweet. What works extremely well for me is to ask people what they read, watch or listen. When I listen to music, I’m often inspired in the most unusual of ways. If you love music, go see live bands, interact with bands on their blog or Twitter. Go to plays, take a sculpting class, paint if you’re a writer–break out of your normal routine and embrace creativity by freeing yourself from the construct of the self that you’ve always known.
About seven years ago, I picked up running and have since run three marathons. When I was younger, I never thought I could ever do that. I believed certain things about myself and locked myself into a certain type of behavior. But I learned that if I practiced, I could do well as a runner. No, I’m not breaking any speed records, but I re-created what I believed was possible and that opened new doors for me.
I challenge you to think about your life and try something new. With so much available to learn, see and create, the limit is simply your imagination. If you’re stuck with where to begin and do not know what you want to pursue, think back on your childhood and remember what you used to do as a child. What gave you immense pleasure and fun? What have you since ignored because now you’re an adult and you’ve locked away parts of your childhood forever? Resurrect your dreams, dust them off and rediscover them. Because once you do, you’ll discover a new you and have found not only a way to express your inner creativity but will have married personal happiness with possibly a lifelong dream.
Ron Vitale was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Influenced by the likes of Tolkien and Margaret Atwood, he began writing at an early age, creating short fiction from his Dungeons & Dragons role-playing sessions.
His writing has appeared in various places from elephant journal, SFWA’s The Bulletin and SEARCH magazine. When not writing articles, he also is the author of the Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries series geared toward new adults. Currently, he is keeping himself busy by writing his blog, and on learning how to be a good father to his kids all while working on his next novel. Read more at www.ronvitale.com
The floor is yours…
What is one creative endeavour you want to try?
What do you do to allow yourself to be more creative?
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