Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Cory Huff.
For a Creative Giant, getting creatively stuck is really frustrating. I think most people who don’t do creative work every day really have no idea how hard it is to create something every single day.
There’s a lot of advice on how to break through that mental barrier. Most of that advice can be summarized as: do the work every day.
But when you’re paralyzed and don’t know how to even get started to make your best work, that advice isn’t so helpful.
A Resource to Help You Get Started
Personally, I like Melissa Dinwiddie’s 10 Rules for the Creative Sandbox. They’re simple, freeing, and fun to follow.
- There is no “wrong.”
- Think process, not product.
- Think quantity, not quality.
- Think tiny and daily.
- Just start. Anywhere.
- When in doubt, ask “What if…?”
- Take the riskier path.
- Dismiss all gremlins.
- Spring the Comparison Trap.
- Treat yourself with compassion.
If you’re thinking that there’s no way you’re ever going to remember 10 rules, don’t worry; Melissa put together a fun little song on her ukulele.
The 100-Painting Challenge
Another tactic I like for unlocking massive creative productivity is the 30- or 100-day challenge. Even if they don’t know it, artists who take on these kinds of challenges are using Melissa’s rules to blow through their creative blocks to make art.
Crystal Moody’s blog, A Year of Creative Habits, documents her own journey of taking on the task of doing something creative in a new medium every day for 30 days every month of the year. I met Crystal at the World Domination Summit in the summer of 2014 and Crystal told me that the process has been truly transformative.
Crystal has recaptured the art skills she thought she’d lost, made connections with creative people from all over, and now has a body of work for sale.
Professional artists are getting in on the game, too. Jolie Guillebeau has made more than 1,000 paintings since graduating from art school five years ago. The majority of those paintings were made by doing 100-painting challenges in different mediums.Currently, Jolie is working on a 100-ceramic-piece challenge. I bought her second mug. 😉
Hopefully you can see how pushing yourself to be productive every day, even for 15 minutes, and letting go of the result, can have a massive effect on your productivity. Quite frequently, being productive is simply knowing what to eliminate.
Why Quantity Matters
You know that Picasso is a famous artist and was quite prolific, but did you know that he made over 50,000 pieces of art? That’s almost two pieces of art a day over the course of his entire life. But he’s famous for perhaps 20 pieces.
Then there’s this bit of perspective from Hemingway:
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
A lot of artists I know burn the work from their early careers.
If you’re really going to be a Creative Giant, it’s not just about doing the work in front of you. The great artists were more than mildly obsessed with their work. They walked into the studio every day and made stuff. By their own admission, most of what they made was crap.
You have to give yourself permission to make crap. (Tweet this.)
Then you get the pleasure of picking your best work to show to the world, instead of stressing about whether or not your work is good enough.
Cory Huff runs TheAbundantArtist.com, where he offers business coaching for artists.
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Great article, Cory! And what a sweet surprise to find my own Creative Sandbox Rules featured right up top!
I consult my own rules just about every day, and I’m also a big believer in challenges. I have taken on several — everything from one week to one year — to help keep me creating. The combination has led to the most productive periods in my life!
I’m also a big believer in the importance of letting oneself make crap. As I like to say, allowing yourself to create crap doesn’t mean you will, it just means you’ll *create*!
Plus the important thing to remember is that we *need* crap to fertilize the good stuff!
When I keep all of these principles in mind, blocks don’t stand a chance. 🙂
Thank you Cory! Dismiss all gremlins – my best of!))
I don’t sure I can suggest more useful tips, like yours. But my weapon in fight with lost creativity is a couple of great tools: Asana.com and https://casual.pm/ Casual, for example, helps to plan your tasks like visual maps or workflows. It’s really useful for designers and other creative people.
Megan Wale says
Nice article. For your point “Take the riskier path” i think taking calculated risk is better option.