Don’t get me wrong, compared to most work in the world creative work is pretty great even from the beginning. That being said, once you’ve made the decision to take your creativity seriously, there’s so much more to consider than whatever your inspiration happens to provide on a given day. As you progress, there will be plenty of challenges ahead but the good news is that the longer you pursue your creative work, the more fun it gets. I thought I’d put down a few of the reasons why I’ve found this to be true.
1. The technique disappears
When you begin to really study the craft of your chosen creative field, it seems like you can’t create at all without getting bogged down in all of the techniques you’re supposed to remember. Given that there are tons of things to consider when you’re refining your craft, it’s a miracle you can make it through the work at all. But, as with any technique, the more you do it, the more it will become ingrained and the less you’ll find yourself actively thinking about it. Once you’re no longer consciously considering technique, your creative process will get back to feeling as inspired as it did when you first started out.
2. You get better at getting out of your own way
When you’ve only worked on a few creative projects, there’s a tendency to agonize over every detail and to constantly second guess yourself. The more creative work you do, however, the more you’ll come to realize that your instincts are worth trusting and that the details will work themselves out if not in your first attempts then in the subsequent ones. The more you’re able to relax and get out of your own way, the more open your creative channels will become and the less you’ll hinder your own process.
3. Your work will get more consistent
As my friend and hit songwriter, John Tirro, said years ago, “every once in a while you’re going to screw up and write a great song.” What I think John was referring to was the fact that early on we can occasionally show flashes of extreme creative brilliance. The problem is that when we’re new to our craft, the likelihood of consistently repeating that particular feat is low. The more creative work you do, the higher the baseline level of quality. There is absolutely no substitute a large volume of creative projects when it comes to raising the level of your work.
4. The more creative projects you have out there, the more good things will happen
In the end, creative work is a numbers game. I’ve always believed that as creatives we have to reach some mystical critical mass of effort before we start to see success with our work. Not that it’s exactly like this but if you think of each of your creative efforts as a lottery ticket, the more tickets you buy, the greater the likelihood that one of them will be the winning number. On a slightly less poetic note, working on more creative projects simply improves your odds of the work getting noticed and connecting with people in the industry. I feel I should mention that it’s not just the creative work that counts but your effort in getting that work out into the world. In other words, don’t forget to pitch and promote your work.
Given that I wrote songs for twenty years before I had a #1 single and thirty years before I wrote a song on a GRAMMY-winning album, I feel like I can speak with a certain authority about how creative work gets more fun the longer you do it. I’m living proof that if you stick with it, things can – and will – improve. Otherwise put, when in doubt, keep going.
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