“Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles.” —Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
This is just one reason why writers are often called brave.
Every book has a crisis point.
5 Ways to be a Happier Creative
We all know the tortured artist schtick. To be honest, I can be a downer sometimes myself, but I think it would be terrible for us to all perpetuate the idea that being creative and miserable are mutually exclusive.
So here’s to being creative and actually enjoying it:
1. Refuse to See Your Entire Life Either as a Success or a Failure
The idea here is to never buy into the lie that your life is either successful or failing in terms of your creative output. Think of the most successful creative person you can, if you look closely you can see a series of successes and failures.
The best way for me to look at the creative life is as a series of projects which can be successful in some ways and fail in other ways. For instance, some projects are really successful in the development of your skill but not financially advantageous.
Also, don’t believe that there is some level of success where you have now “arrived” or attained a level of success which can never been denied to you, like being hailed a “creative genius” with endless financial gain, forever. I could tell you many examples of artists and musicians who seem like they have “arrived” with one project and then completely fail the next.
2. Make Something Everyday
Will Bryant says something like, “I make stuff because if I don’t I get sad”. A silly and profound statement. Last year I did a daily drawing project where I created a new character every weekday. I found this statement to ring very true.
This practice gave me a sense of creative productivity every single day, which is a serious morale booster. Even if you don’t show anyone, it can help you feel prolific and unlimited in your creative abilities, which in turn increases your confidence.
3. Be Authentic
This is huge. Many people have done amazing things in creativity and have received many rewards, successes and prizes for them. So there is a lot of incentive for YOU to be THEM. But the trick is knowing the truth: you CAN’T be them. Trying to be something you are not will make you feel like an old sock. You already know this, but I thought I’d remind you.
4. Know Your Purpose
Shooting aimlessly into the dark can feel like…shooting aimlessly into the dark. Your purpose doesn’t have to be mind meltingly important. I like the humble yet ambitious purpose the great Debbie Millman has taken upon herself to “try to make the supermarket more beautiful”.
Try to clarify what you want to achieve overall so that everything you do has a sense of purpose. Purpose equals meaning, and to most creatives I know, a sense of meaning is why they want to make art and why they DO NOT want to work in a factory.
5. Address and Defeat Your Fears
That dreadful fear is a bully that is killing your soul and it should be stood up to. Listen to it, don’t ignore it. Hear what it’s actually saying and then dismantle it. Talk to someone about it openly, if the fear is tied to reality, then face it and take it down with integrity. If it’s all lies, all smoke and mirrors then let it disappear in the cloud of smoke that it is. If you are doing super boring unadventurous work, you won’t have any fears at all…but who wants to do that?
Hope this makes you a bit happier today.
- Andy J. Miller
P.S. To tackle the piling up questions here on this tumblr I have started taking on 1 hour video creative coaching, for more info click here.
numbers 1 and 2, seriously.
At the bottom of the ocean her cold dead eyes saw everything in blue. A cold blue that told her that her world, the one she’d known so recently, was now frozen and no longer hers. This would be her vista until her retinas disintegrated or were consumed by the living creatures around her. She thought about the past, but dwelled on the present. She thought about the sky, also blue like the frigid sea. The sky eventually left her memory, and her eyes fell from their sockets. Her toes remained for years to come, enveloped in canvas and cement.
Was asked some process questions on Twitter yesterday and thought I’d aggregate them all in a single location: here. For process junkies, here’s the Q-and-A about my daily writing habit, pretty much word for word.
How do you get your 1,000 words a day?
I have a morning To Do of 5 items. Writing…
I’ve been trying to keep my posts here more about original content lately, but I love these process questions so much and this one is definitely worth passing along
We scaled the tower to the main platform. It was narrow and dank inside the huge covered bridge. My heart leaped as Steff stumbled, nearly falling through one of the larger holes in the old wood slats. Light shined up through the floor and projected irregular shapes on the ceiling of the shoddy structure. We watched as train car after train car carried house-sized munitions as if on an endless conveyor-belt at the deadliest supermarket on the planet. Clouds hung low and grey over the city at the other, far-end of the tunnel. Time slowed until our eyes were full of dust and debris.
I saw your shoulder the other day. On the bus. And on Tuesday I saw your hand. That was on the bus too, of course. I’m pretty sure it was your hand. I recognized the cuff of your brown leather jacket. There’s a piece of thread that hangs from the edge an inch above the wrist that I guess you haven’t noticed yet, because it’s still there. You should really cut that thread off, it just looks sloppy. And you’re not sloppy. You’re the most perfect thing in my head.