Three Resources That Will Change The Way You Think About Creativity
One commencement speech. One book. And one guy.
I have to be honest with you (after all, this is the Honest Creative newsletter).
Up until 6-9 months ago, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as creative. I had ideas, sure, but was I a “creative”? Was I one of those people who did creative work for a living? No. That’s too Banksy.
Everything changed when I allowed myself to start calling myself this hard-to-define word “artist”. Seth Godin’s books really helped. After reading a few (Linchpin and The Icarus Deception), I realized that an “artist” is not a white-bearded dude up in the Himalayas. No. It’s a person who makes something that wasn’t there before – whether it’s a blog post, an idea, or a smile.
In this way, art is a verb – an act of courage. And if you feel scared about shipping something new, there’s a good chance you’re creating art.
You can work at Starbucks and be an artist. The art is in the way you approach your work. Do you go the extra mile? Do you make a connection with people when you weren’t told so?
There is a cashier guy working at a Co-Op grocery store near my apartment. He has a high-pitched voice, and he is incredibly extroverted. Every time I buy groceries, he makes some kind of joke. Usually, it’s, “Oh, is it you paying today or your girlfriend?” or “Hey, how many miles did you run today?” or “You shouldn’t drink that much wine.” And almost every day, this guy makes me smile.
He isn’t paid extra to do it. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know how I will react to his jokes (maybe I am a psycho!). I’ve only been living here for only 9 months. And yet, every time I go to that Co-Op, I feel home. This guy goes the extra mile. He is an artist.
Going back to content creation in general and writing in particular, I believe that everybody is creative.
For some it’s easy – their parents encouraged their creativity at a young age. But for many – like me – this creativity is buried so deep inside, that we have to dig for many years before the shovel hits something hard.
But we need to dig nevertheless.
Recovering our creative selves, allowing ourselves to be called “artists” or “creatives”, is a difficult process.
Your inner Censor – that voice of your domineering parent – will keep telling you that whatever you’re doing is shit. And that you “ought to get a normal job like your friend Rob”. And that “nobody makes a living on TikToks”.
Hear that voice. Acknowledge it. Even nod in agreement, after all, it’s probably right.
But then tell it to go fuck itself.
You’ve got other plans for your creative life that to do what’s “right”. (There isn’t such thing as “right” or “wrong” in creativity or life in general.)
This week, I want to share with you three resources that have helped me regain confidence and my creative “self”.
It’s one commencement speech. One book. And one guy.
I highly recommend you check them all out, as it might change your life.
It did that for me.
“Make Good Art” – Commencement Speech By Neil Gaiman
This speech was delivered as the keynote address for the May 17, 2012 commencement ceremony at The University of the Arts.
It’s highly inspirational and explores questions such as, “How do I keep creating?” or “How to make money from art?” as well as handling rejection.
I re-watch it every few months and every time I find something new that inspires my writing.
“The Artist’s Way” – Book (Course) by Julia Cameron
Written in the 1980s, it’s a 12-week coursebook on creativity and rediscovering your inner artist, which helped millions of people – not just writers, but actors, musicians, photographers, regain their touch with their creativity.
In that podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert talked about how Eat, Pray, Love came to be because of this book.
Besides the weekly reading and exercises in the 12-week course, there are two fundamental routines you do each week to recover your creative self which you can incorporate in your life right now:
Morning pages – three pages of daily stream-of-consciousness writing, first thing in the morning. Call it a ‘brain dump’ and don’t overthink it. If you’ve heard of morning pages before, it’s because of Julia Cameron. She coined the term.
Artist date – taking your inner artist on a weekly “date”. This can be a short walk in the park or a spontaneous trip to the museum, or anywhere your curiosity leads you. The goal is to let your inner creative child have fun.
The combination of these two over long periods of time creates magic.
I just started doing the course, and am currently wrapping up my first week. But I already see how many inner “blocks” I have that stop me from being my most creative self. I also discovered many new parts of me – which I never even thought were there (e.g., that I am interested in photography).
Elizabeth Gilberts says she does the whole 12-week course every few years to refresh her creative perspective.
I highly recommend you get this fascinating book. It might change your life.
Creativity In Management – John Cleese
Last but not least, is a speech by John Cleese, of Monty Python’s fame. John Cleese is a world-famous comedian, but in this speech, he talks to people from management (businessmen, CEOs, and entrepreneurs) on the nature of creativity and how they can use it in their work.
In short, to be creative, you need:
Space – a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Time – an allocated amount of time (e.g., 1.5H).
Time – give yourself as much time as you can (the most creative people postpone making decisions).
Confidence – you need to believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who also believe in you.
22-inch-waist – nope, scratch that, humor.
I talk about the key ideas from this speech in more detail in this Medium post.
I suggest you watch the full speech. And because it’s John Cleese, it’s highly entertaining too!
Go make something meaningful.
What you might have missed:
Content Creators Are Businesses – Yet, both banks and investors are afraid of them.
Your Writing Isn’t Just About You – Stop blocking your creativity.
You Don’t Have To Teach Through Writing – You can be the voice of authenticity in the obsessed world.
Creativity Doesn’t Care How Smart You Are – It needs space, time, confidence, and a 22-inch waist.
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In case you didn’t know, I also have a book out – Blog Is a Platform: What Blogging Can Do For You and Your Career. A lot of my readers found it valuable.
I am currently working on a project in the space of content creation, trying to solve problems of making money from your art.
If you are a seasoned content creator, who has had any kind of creative success on any platform – I’d love to hear from you and discuss the project with you, maybe ask you a few questions.
Please drop me an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org