4) Take Time To Be A Kid
When you were a child, being creative was encouraged. You probably had more crayons, watercolors and construction paper than you could handle, and your work was on constant display at the gallery – a classroom wall or home refrigerator. But at some point, it went the way of afternoon recess. Stolen away because you had to study things like history, mathematics and A Tale of Two Cities. It’s not like anyone explicitly told you to stop having fun, but there was still some kind of guilt inflicted for not being productive. Soon enough you worried about not having a steady job, a huge hit to the imagination.
What many people forget is that letting go and doing what’s natural is exactly what we need to keep functioning at a high level. We don’t have to forge ahead 24/7 and risk burnout. Playtime can be that break in our routine that helps us create bold, new ideas.
So break out the sketchbook and canvas, but don’t forget that there’s lots of ways to have fun. Grab a six-pack and race friends on big wheels you can hardly pedal or re-create scenes from your all-time favorite tv shows with photos. If you want a challenge, build a flying machine and enter Red Bull’s Flugtag competition. It’s not going to guarantee greatness, but toiling away all day at a desk doesn’t either. And guess what – this is going to be fucking fun.
Ready to take action? Be sure to check out:
Playing Grownup – A blog about growing up fun
Improv Everywhere – They cause scenes and you’re invited
Creative Think – Think like a kid
5) Remain A Lifelong Student
Sometimes we forget how easy our access to education is. We’re nearly mandated to finish high school and most of us go on to college. We take online courses and there’s tons of programs offering free workshops and lessons. It’s definitely nothing like Iran where women are repressed and mullets are illegal. A lot of people can’t wait to finish and get that diploma, but education isn’t about jumping a final hurdle – it’s a lifelong pursuit.
I can only speak for myself, but my mind gets stale when I stop learning. Science chimes in to tell us the brain atrophies like a muscle, so maybe that’s why I feel the most creative and have my best ideas when I’m reading a lot (that shit is crazy) or taking a class. As someone who hadn’t taken a legit class in over 4 years, I was nerding out pretty hard when I decided to try an urban planning class at UCSD. And while I didn’t look forward to writing my final paper and presentation, I relished meeting in the classroom for intellectual discussions. What it did was allow me to think about the world from a new perspective. I think it’s very similar to the idea that you are only as creative as the people you surround yourself with. You’ll only be creative if you keep exposing yourself to new ideas and experiences.
It doesn’t really matter how you do it. It could be a class, but it could also be finding hobbyists or a meetup group. Find someone that knows something you don’t and exchange your expertise. One of the most important things is to not let your career completely dictate what you learn. While it’s great to justify that a class or certification you paid for led to a promotion or raise – if something excites you, just go for it because you’ll never know where it leads. It could mean a career change, meeting awesome new people or an odyssey around the world. And when it comes down to it, investing in you is never a waste of time or money.
Ready for some action? Be sure to check out:
San Diego Continuing Education – 1,400+ free classes
Your Public Library – Get lost in the stacks
Meetup – Find other people with your interests and learn together
6) Ignore the Skeptics
New ideas are always resisted, even if they’re great. You know that. Maybe the idea seems too far-fetched and ambitious, or perhaps it’s so simple in hindsight that everyone who didn’t think of it is hoping it’ll fail. That’s it right there – sadly, there are people out there that don’t want an idea to take off unless it’s theirs. Such are humans, unless they know better.
And it’s hard to deal with that. Because maybe you just had the epiphany of a lifetime and no one gives a damn. It’s ignored, criticized, called stupid and pretty soon you’re believing the words coming out of everyone’s mouths instead of how you really feel. So make like Hugh MacLeod and ignore everybody. If you need to vent and shout “Fuck him/her”, do it (in your own privacy). But know that when I say ignore everyone, I really just mean ignore unconstructive feedback. Criticism without an explanation drives me mental, but learning from people constructively tearing you down is essential. Learn to recognize the difference and channel any rage you have into energy towards your projects.
Just think how ridiculous a lot of things we have today were at conception. Weren’t the first trips into outer space ridiculed by doubters? Wouldn’t social media seem ludicrous to explain to someone 20 years ago? My point is that progressive change doesn’t come from people fearing being shot down. They just find a way to make it happen. Your struggles probably aren’t nearly as insurmountable, unless you’re figuring out time travel, and in which case I REALLY want to meet you. But yeah, don’t be afraid to pursue something just because someone thinks it’s silly. I’ve always liked the Wayne Coyne approach where he admits he makes something he likes and believes there are other people out there that will too. Everyone doesn’t have to. And it might take you 9 different ideas and a whole lot of emotional energy before something sticks, but trust that you’ll get there and it’s worth it.
Ready to take action? Be sure to check out:
Procrastinating Writers – Some guidance for writers but you can apply it to anything really
Best 8 Ways to Deal with Detractors – A great gameplan from the always awesome Zenhabits
For the complete series, check out Holiday Matinee, a blog for creative inspiration.