A lot of the time, I find myself really struggling to be creative.
I want to try new things. I want to develop new ideas. But for the life of me, I find I’m much better at doing tasks that are mindless and repetitive leaving no room for me to even need to think creatively.
To get to the bottom of why I was like this, I had to really deconstruct the way I was thinking and the things I was doing to see why I was never able to bring myself to that creative mindset I always sought after.
What I’ve come up with below is a lot of what I’ve learned from other people and I feel these are the things that really helped me to understand why I wasn’t being as creative as I wanted to be.
Learn How To Form A Piece Into Your Own Work
For whatever you might be doing, whether it’s drawing, writing, or some other creating process that requires you to think for yourself, you must first adapt your mind to think the way your inspirations think.
To clear this up a little, let’s go back to when we first learned to draw.
In elementary school, I was horrible at drawing and I knew it the whole time. One point in my life, around the middle of high school, I wanted to see if I became any better at drawing. Of course I didn’t. But I had new ways to learn.
If you try and teach someone how to draw a turtle, you aren’t going to tell them to draw a turtle and to do it over and over again until it looks right. Nothing will change. They will come up with the same crappy turtle over and over because even though they are practicing they still don’t know what they are learning from themselves.
When learning to draw something new, you would often look up a picture or better yet, a drawing of what a turtle looks like. You copy what you see, and you notice the techniques and ways that artist made the turtle look better than yours.
You aren’t stealing the turtle, you’re not even stealing the technique. You’re learning how copying it down for yourself gets you in their eyes and shows you what you should be seeing on the page before you put your pencil on the paper.
Even now I still can’t draw for the life of me except for two things, cartoon explosions and anchors. Why? Because I learned from looking at those drawings myself and watched videos of those being drawn.
It’s not stealing if you’re using another persons work for your own practice. (As long as you aren’t publishing it)
If you learned how to draw a turtle from a kids book, a person from a sketch artists video tutorial, and a nice backdrop from a Photoshop expert, you can implement all of those techniques to make your own piece of art.
Would that still be copying? Depending on how you do it. If you’ve drawn multiple turtles with techniques from different artists and find one has a better looking shell so you try that way, but the legs you think look better from another artists perception of a turtle, then the one you make from both is your own turtle.
The same goes for any other forms of art. You have to attempt to put yourself in the artists shoes to develop and create your own methods to making what you want be able to come to life.
If you have no experience in doing so, how would you expect to make it good in the first place? Learn how they learned, watch how they practice, and utilize what artists and creatives put out there to see what they have been working on before they got to where they are now.
Learn Where Your Inspiration Comes From
If you’re like me, I have very little knowledge of where my inspiration comes from.
For some people it’s getting into that certain mindset by listening to music that encourages their creative thoughts.
Or someone else might have a book they read to that calms their mind and gets them relaxed enough to think creatively about their own work.
This is where it gets a little difficult because if you don’t know your method to entering that creative mindset, you have to go out and find it.
What I’ve noticed that has worked for me so far, has been walking my dog around the neighborhood. I don’t listen to music while walking because specifically for me that would distract me and I wouldn’t be paying attention to what I was thinking at the time.
I don’t have too much to say about this because again, I’m still trying to find the best way to get my creative juices flowing and harnessing that into a routine.
However, I do know this. Throughout your day, if you find what fascinates you (which hopefully is intertwined with what you are attempting to do creatively), then that’s where your inspiration comes from.
It’s when you find yourself locked in your own mind going on a tangent about something all because you were exposed to it earlier in the day.
If you get lucky and do find your method for getting creative, turn it into a gold mine. Build a collection of things to view or experience so that when you need to get into your creative mindset, you can simply open your collection and easily slide into that thought process.
Research Your Field Of Art
To better get into the field of creations that you want to be a part of, you have to expose yourself to what the others are doing.
It’s creative research that will be the backbone of how you think.
You have to do your research and look at what is being done in the field that you want to take part in, even if you know you can’t do it as well as the people who are doing it.
If you want to eventually be a storyteller at the level of Stephen King for example, you have to pay attention to what he’s releasing and what he’s released that has done well.
This may sound a little obvious, but tons of people get into something and just think starting on their own with no higher up idols can still get them to be where they want to be.
Maybe in some cases that will work. But for the most part, your research is for not only inspiration, but to have your brain adapt to how they think of the world and how long they spend on their projects.
If you follow a certain idol of yours, no matter what you might want to work on or change, as long as you are following them, you will start to regularly think about what they are doing and how that can relate to what you are doing.
Even though you are disconnected to when and how they are working on whatever it might be, you can still follow what they have done and see how that can apply to you.
It’s like hopping into a class that has already started. Sure you might be behind and catching up might be unbearably difficult. But even the kid in the back that is barely paying attention is there enough and exposed enough to what is talked about that he will still pick up what is being taught, even if he doesn’t realize it.
Sometimes it’s just the atmosphere of creativity that can help someone and when you are alone, you have to research into that creative atmosphere and get your mindset to actually be there with the others.
Redo Your Schedule
If you find creative ideas still aren’t coming to you and you don’t know what you need to change. Change everything.
Find the time to expand your mind as far away from your normal routine as you can.
Coming home from work and relaxing but saying, “I want to accomplish this” will be incredibly hard if you don’t normally do it because your mind is already relaxing following it’s schedule.
Instead, you have to get your brain on it’s toes to force new ways of thinking.
Getting unused to your routine is what can cause the most change and most of the time, the biggest amount of progress.
If this doesn’t make sense, think about when you would go on vacation Even if it isn’t anywhere fancy. You are still in a new area where your mind is exposed trying to figure out what it should be doing.
Even if you are only there to relax, you will find so much time to reflect and really analyze, “If I was at home, what would I be doing right now”.
Coming back from this can give you the motivation to change. You will come back being more aware of what you are coming back to. You might notice the routine you have locked into your life and see what you should change about it.
Ignore The Doubts In Your Mind
The biggest thing that holds us back is our own self doubt.
Everyone who isn’t a cynical asshole has at least once taken into consideration their self awareness in certain situations and either doubted themselves, saw it as a wrong fit for their life, or just flat out denied they could partake in that activity.
Learning to not only overcome, but embrace your self doubt is what will help you travel forward toward your goal. The obstacle is the way and ignoring the obstacle or trying to get around it shows you either feel you aren’t prepared or just scared to try and beat the obstacle.
Before there is even fear of audience criticism, we have our own criticisms toward our work making showing what we have done to someone else the last thing that we thought we might do.
Have you ever had an experience where, for example, you had to write an essay for an English class and you absolutely hated what you wrote. But you had to turn it in anyways, because you were out of time.
Later you get the paper back and find you did a lot better than you expected.
Maybe this specific example doesn’t resonate with you, but I’m sure there’s some way this sort of thing has happened to you at least once. The pressure builds us to criticize it even more ourselves then the ones that are supposed to criticize us.
We underestimate the shit out of ourselves and some could see it as a good thing, keeping us humble. But when that criticism keeps you from trying, you can obviously see where the problem stems from.
Unless you embrace that your mind will reject what you are doing and tell you, “no no no that’s all wrong”, you have to keep trying regardless.
Rarely do people ever start something new and are automatically good at it.
You have to understand that someone who starts something new will suck at it, but it’s the ones who overcome their self doubt and don’t see what they did wrong, but what they did right, that will progress forward.
You don’t have to play catch-up when learning a new skill or art, but you have to make yourself able to build toward bettering yourself instead of seeing what you come up with and noticing all the wrong things.
Think about it this way, if you notice all the wrong things, you are already thinking critically in a constructive way. As long as you don’t perceive it as deconstructive.
You just have to let all those doubts come and embrace them so you can say to yourself, “one day I will come back and see what I made is actually a piece of trash”. Because if you laugh it off, and accept the fact that you are going to be bad at something when you start, and as long as you don’t let that bother you, then you are on the right track already.
Don’t let doubt kill you before you have a chance to try.