Albert Einstein was quoted as saying: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”, and as you may have experienced, making a creative vision come to life is quite a unique feeling. However, being a creative is not without its struggles. Moreover, I believe that many of these struggles are self-imposed, and with the right mindset shifts, can be overcome.
Forget about the gear
I know I know, this will not be the first time you’ve come across these words of wisdom, but hear me out. I have an analogy that I’d like to share with you to try and put this point in to perspective.
If you were walking through a museum and you came across a stunning painting, what thoughts will you be having as you’re enjoying that marvellous view? Probably something along the lines of: “Wow, what a stunning painting! It really transports me back to that era. It makes me feel happy/nervous/empowered…”
You are unlikely to be asking yourself questions like: “I wonder what stand he had his canvas on whilst painting this?”, or “I wonder how she organised her paint whilst creating this masterpiece?”. The purpose of this painting is to make you feel something, to tell a story or to convey a message. The details of the equipment used are irrelevant.
Allowing decisions about equipment, software and setup to take up more of your time than the creative work itself is not moving your craft forwards. Bear this in mind next time you’re deep in to an online window shopping session.
Build your skill over time
Again, this may seem obvious, but taking the time to gain some perspective on these points can help you through a creative block or struggle. And it’s your lucky day, I have another quote for you, from an American President no less! Benjamin Franklin once said: “Little strokes fell great oaks.”
If you feel like you’re not moving forwards as quickly as you’d like in terms of skill, then take a step back and remember that incremental gains in skill, or small steps forward on a large project will stack up over time, often exponentially.
Committing to making a little bit of progress on a daily or weekly basis can also reduce the overwhelm that you may feel when you compare your current skill level to where you want to be.
With the rare exception of child prodigies, most people with exceptional skill levels have been mastering their craft for years. Jimi Hendrix was once sat in his bedroom playing ‘Three blind mice’ on one string on his guitar. Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in 10. Be patient, you’ll get there.
What’s motivating you?
Whenever I’ve been faced with a creative block, either in music production or social media content, I have found that reconnecting to my ‘why’ has helped me to break through the slump.
To contextualise that with an example, if I have been struggling to come up with content ideas, or I’m frustrated with editing, I take a moment to stop and reflect. During that reflection period, I recall the times that I’ve used YouTube tutorials which have solved a real pain point for me, and done so quickly. I also think back to times that I’ve contacted influencers and educators and had a generous, helpful response. I hold those people in such high regard for the work that they do for others. This allows me to reconnect to why I started my YouTube channel in the first place, and my motivation never fails to pick up after this.
People have a tendency to focus on extrinsic motivators, such as view counts, subscribers or likes on a page. I believe that intrinsic motivators (connecting to your why) are far more powerful than extrinsic motivators, such as social media stats, what people think of your music or commitments to a record label.
I do however understand that small artists aim to build followings to attract attention of management, labels and promoters. The problem is that extrinsic motivators are outside of your control. That is so important to remember.
Here’s what I think these small artists should focus on instead: their craft. If you have a video up on social media of your latest track, which happens to be fantastic, that will mean more to a promoter than the fact that you have 7,000 followers (which could well be bought).
Also, branding. Having a good piece of cover art and some professional looking photos on your social media page catapults you above so many other amateur musicians, and along with great content, this will put you in a great position to get noticed. The great part about these 2 tips? These two actions are totally inside your control. That’s the punchline.
I hope you find these three tips helpful. Feel free to return here and re-read this the next time you’re having a creative block.