Keep Creating (blog post)
Back in January, all I could think about was how cool it’d be to finish my first ever book.
By March, I was over it.
I hated it and I just wanted to destroy these 20,000 words as quick as possible so I could move on with my life.
In April, I made some changes and started to like the book once more but ultimately, just wanted it done.
In May, I tweaked it some more and added some dumb, simple cartoons.
I loved it.
Here we are in June and I’ve now officially published my first ever book.
It’s an amazing feeling.
Why Keep Creating?
For a few years now this has been my sign off on emails.
Keep creating, keep writing,
I don’t know if it was as much a salutation to others as it was just a reminder to myself.
I associate creating, being creative, making something into existence in this world with play.
When we’re children we play. We don’t think about it — we just do. If it doesn’t exist — like a He-Man universe, a wrestling ring, or a jar full of stars — we make it exist.
Somewhere along the line, as adults we lose that sense of creativity and confine ourselves to the realizations of what actually exists around us.
But, we don’t have to.
Play can exist through our creativity.
One of my dumb comics from the book. :-)
For 10 years of my adult life, I stopped creating. I was unhappy, depressed at times. I was overweight, 416 lbs at my highest. I was afraid of doing new things because I wasn’t any good at them.
Fear ran my life and if it didn’t exist in the world around me without effort, then I didn’t even bother to pursue it.
In my 30s, that all changed.
My new charge in life is:
Create the things you want to exist in the world.
Why Keep Writing?
Since fourth grade I’ve been a writer. I was taught to ask Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. I was taught journaling and storytelling.
That nudge into curiosity is all I needed back then.
Writing allows me to ask questions. It allows me to learn. Writing a book isn’t about the answers — but instead it’s about moving past the questions you’ve already asked, so that you have the opportunity to ask even more questions you don’t yet know the answer to.
Writing is learning.
I wrote this book because I wanted to learn what it was like to write a book. I wanted to learn what it was that I do that makes me crave creativity. I wanted to learn what it was really like to create something that I wanted to exist in this world.
Most people won’t ever write a book.
Because most people stop playing.
I urge you to keep playing and keep creating.
My books came. Mouse was not impressed.
#6 create your own incentives
For creative work, a dangling carrot doesn’t always work as an incentive. Sure, we’d love to get paid for making art, writing sketch comedy or authoring a book — but, generally, that’s not why we do it. In fact, getting money for creative projects can sometimes make us devalue our work or worse we worry about pleasing our audience too much, and it changes how and what we create.
Instead, learn ways to intrinsically reward yourself for the work you do. Personally, it feels great to me to check off boxes next to my to-do list. There’s just something about that simple action that brings so much satisfaction. Do checkmarks pay my bills? No. But, I know that checkmark is a sign that I’m accomplishing the things I set out to do.
Get It Done — Discover your most meaningful intrinsic reward. Use it to incentivize yourself. Intrinsic rewards are things that give you a sense of meaningfulness, choice, competence or progress. A check mark or a sticker gives me a sense of progress. Progress is by far the thing that drives me most.
#28 be active in seeking inspiration
Getting inspired isn’t a passive activity. Think about it. Most often, in times of inspiration it’s because you put yourself in a particular location (outside, in a museum, on the internet, etc.) and it’s because you’ve allowed yourself into a particular mindset (open for suggestions, looking at art, seeking out TED talks, etc.).
People don’t just accidentally get inspired. So, always be on the lookout to be inspired by someone or something. Don’t allow yourself to be closed off to the world. Do something unfamiliar and you’ll probably get results that help you in your creativity.
In the course of human history, there’s never been more information available to us. Constantly the world is evolving in a way that makes access to the most remote people or smallest of niches possible. Yes, there’s a bunch of junk out there, but also, there is knowledge and inspiration to be gained.
Get It Done — Watch one video, read one article, look at one piece of art every single day. It doesn’t have to be on the subject you enjoy the most. In fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t. It’ll be a nice vacation and it’ll open your world up to learn new things and be inspired in different ways.
#34 use what you already have
The worst excuse you can make that will destroy your creativity is “I’m too busy.” However, the second worst excuse you can make is “I’m broke.” I feel you. I really do. I have been broke my entire life. My parents didn’t even own a car or have a bank account. How good do you think I am at handling money? But, I have good news for you.
“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” Orson Welles
When you have limitations, it forces your mind to think of better solutions. When anything is an option, it’s as if nothing is an option. For example, if I told you to write a story about anything at all you’d probably sit there for a long time wondering what to write about. You’d judge the ideas in your head and eventually (maybe), you’d write something.
However, if I said write a story about a lost dog and a little girl named Pat, who is five years old and lives in New York City, you’d be able to think less and go straight into writing the story.
Limitations can be a good thing.
#76 read reviews as a slam poetry piece
This is one of my favorite things to do. It’s amazing how indignant and poetic people get in their online reviews. Look up one of your favorite (or least favorite) restaurants and read the 1-star reviews as though you were performing it as slam poetry. If you’re not sure what slam poetry sounds like, just look it up online.
Read the review out loud and try to put yourself in the mindset of the person who wrote it. Perform the piece for your friends or significant other. It’s a fun way to pass the time in car rides. My girlfriend and I do it over brunch sometimes.
Get It Done — Find an online review. Read it as though you have an axe to grind and the world is the most unjust place on earth. Laugh hysterically about it after. Laughter is the best medicine.