I was asked on Racket how can creative people can work their best.
Build time and space so you can focus
Your space is the place you work. Clean or messy desk? I don’t think it matters. But having a space you can slip into the creative mode is ideal. It doesn’t have to be a separate room. It could be one side of the couch. Just dedicate a space to do only the creative work in. If you can.
A dedicated block of time, free of distractions is ideal. Some folks work best by setting an alarm or reminder for specific times. If that’s you, block off your calendar. Schedule it like any other thing you commit to.
Others like to be a bit more free-flowing. Chaining something I want to do to something I already do helps me, personally.
Here’s an example:
After I brush my teeth in the morning, I will doodle for 15 minutes, I will celebrate by having a mini dance party.
Celebrating at the end helps wire the experience into your brain. This is the Fogg Behavior recipe. More here
Show up for the work
Do a little bit each day.
Action creates inspiration, not the other way around. Show up for the work, find the smallest thing you can do to get started, and be open to it all.
- Write just one sentence
- Make the first mark with your pen
- Write a small
hello world print statement in your code
Start and see if you keep going.
I’m not saying work all day every day. Look at your energy levels (track them if you want to). See what gives you energy and drains it. Use breaks to plan around that.
Show your work - build in public
Creative people tend to like to see how others do what they do.
Post work in progress
Do a live stream
Talk about what you’re doing on social media
Ask for feedback
Bruce Lee said
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own
Think long term or “outcomes over output”
Take feedback on the specific things you make, the ‘output’ and put that into your process where it makes sense (thanks, Bruce). That process is the ‘outcomes’. The repeated work. How you do what you do.
I’m still thinking through this, honestly. But I think we should avoid taking any feedback on ourselves. I think this will avoid impostor syndrome and Dunning-Kruger effect.
Find a tribe
Find your people. They can be anywhere in the world.
Be awesome to each other. I don’t know anything about sailing but I know “A Rising Tide Lifts all Ships”. If one of your like minded peers has some success, that can help the others. Maybe it open doors, or you can all talk about the new work. At minimum you’ll get to cheer a friend on.
A mentor is typically a more experienced person who has been where you want to go. They have the context.
These can be folks from your tribe. It’s nice to get some advice from time to time.
Find a coach
A coach doesn’t have to be a mentor, but can be. A coach doesn’t have to have the context, or be where you want to be themselves.
They do need to be a guide on your journey though. Helping you understand where you are. Where you really are.
Where you want to be, and challenge that too.
Then enable you to think through the things (real or self-imposed) that stop you from making progress.
Read Austin Kleon’s books
Steal Like an Artist, Show your Work, Keep Going
These are the most powerful books I’ve read on being creative.
Steven Pressfield’s books are also awesome. War of Art, and Do the Work
Let Your Freak Flag Fly
It’s OK to take up the space you need to turn into who you want to be.
- Don’t say I am a wanna-be writer.
- Say I am a writer.
Or painter, coder, animator, etc.
If you like a bunch of things say “I’m a creative person”. Or pick one and change it when you move to the next thing.
Don’t overthink it.
But do take that space. Everything has been said before, but not by you.
We all need connection and collaboration. It’s a human need. We need your voice.