This post is not going to be one of my usual, style-focused ones. Instead, inspired by the latest conversations I’ve been having with fellow creatives and coaches, I wanted to share 5 keys things I’ve learned about creativity and the creative process since becoming a content creator myself, in 2017.
Hopefully, with all the discussions surrounding blogging, vlogging, Social Media, influencers and so on, these key take-aways will help shed some light for those of you considering to join in.
And for those of you who are already creators, please join in! I’m looking forward to hearing your own experiences and learnings in the comments.
Creative Efforts Should Support Your Mission
I actually began discussing the mission behind what I’m creating recently, by joining the #creativebiztalks ladies on Instagram.
Since I started blogging 3 and a bit years ago, I wanted to create content that inspires women to confidently own their style. To explore and use their personal style as a means of expressing who they are inside, outwardly.
This mission also stands behind my creating You and Your Personal Style. Because I wanted to offer an easily applicable course to women interested in getting in touch with their individual style.
And I can tell you, the satisfaction I get with every comment or review that tells me my message has reached its intended purpose is priceless!
It’s my biggest motivator knowing that women are benefiting from my knowledge. That they are feeling more in control of their looks, and of their stylistic self-expression as a result of something I created.
Now maybe the word “mission” sounds a bit grandiose to some of you. But your activity’s mission isn’t just some Marketing term designed solely for big corporations.
If you get back to the root of the word, it simply refers to the core reason behind why you are creating something.
Maybe your mission is to create beautiful art that brightens the onlookers’ day. Or perhaps it’s sharing content that inspires young artists. Or maybe your mission is to share knowledge with beginners in your field of specialty (be it travelling, cooking, crafting and so on).
Whatever it is, your mission is something personal to you. And it’s something based on what you have to offer others. Which is what makes it much more powerful than a simple “I want to get famous on Youtube”, or “I want to get rich by being an influencer”.
I’m not here to knock those who make this kind of statements. I just want to clarify that those are goals, not missions. Which means that they also will not have the same strength to motivate you long-term as your mission.
Because one thing I’ve learned about creativity is that finding your mission within yourself, and creating in support of it, is what keeps you going. Since- make no mistake- dry spells and creative blockages are bound to happen over time.
And speaking of blockages:
Don’t Wait for Your Idea to be Perfect
This one is a biggie, and it’s something I’ve heard many fellow creatives struggling with.
Because when you start thinking about what you’ll be putting out there- whether it’s your writing, art, a course or a product- you want it to be great, right? Perfect, even!
Ideally so from the first release. And if you’re selling it, you need to nail the perfect price. And the perfect promotion strategy, and, and, and….
Before you know it, you’ve exhausted your brain and emotions by overstressing all the niggly little details. And you haven’t even actually started making anything!
Now I have to say, I also had my moments of agonizing when creating my course.
Sure, a lot of well-spent effort went into the actual creative parts. But upon release, I started freaking about the price!
Which strategy should I choose? How do I even know people will respond to it? What am I doing??
Luckily, this didn’t last long. Because while reading and comparing different pricing strategies for online courses, I found the site of an LSAT prep teacher in the US.
His existing offer was amazing!
But, by reading his story, it was clear that had not always been the case. He had started with a much more basic course, and a much lower price. Both of which he perfected in time (years!), based on feedback and demand.
The conclusion: Try your hardest to not let your emotions get the best of you. Of course you want what you put out there in the world to be as good as possible. After all, it’s in a way, a part of you.
But it’s hard (and exhausting) to try and nail every single aspect before you even put pen to paper, or pick up a camera. So by putting fears aside and just starting somewhere, you already create something to further improve upon.
Creativity Comes by Doing
And in close connection to that previous point, I’ve found that a lot of times, creativity comes by doing.
It’s quite funny, because if you ask people about how they view the creative process (their future one, or that of others), they often think it equates to relaxed days spent in your favorite neighbourhood café, blissfully writing away in your notebook or editing pics on your laptop.
And while sure, those days do exist, they by no means represent the majority of time! (At least not in my case.)
Instead, what my own creative process entails is usually some forethought.
Before I start a photoshoot for example, I start picturing the output in my mind. I start thinking about all the steps I will need to take, and all of the items: clothing (does anything need to be washed, ironed?), make-up, hair products, accessories, charged camera, tripod, SD card etc.
This way, I ensure that when I have a few hours to actually start shooting, everything goes much smoother. There are far fewer surprises, which- ironically- allows for more spontaneity and creativity on the fly!
Afterwards, the editing process is also something of a work in progress.
There are always new programs, techniques, new aesthetic principles to try out. And by experimenting, the final result is always much better than the first try-out.
Photography evolution since I first began blogging
Same goes for copywriting.
When writing an article, I will usually sketch out its main bullet points (the “skeleton”). And from there, I start building the paragraphs.
I will often let them sit for a day, or at least a few hours, then come back and reread with fresh eyes. Because I can rarely just start flooding pages with the perfect words out of thin air, and on the first try.
This process has helped me bring my work closer and closer to the ideal in my mind. It’s by no means perfect, but by doing the work regularly, I find ideas pouring out of me with much more ease.
Which in turn, makes the process feel uplifting and fun for me, instead of it becoming a chore.
Don’t Listen to Just Anyone’s Advice… But Don’t Ignore Everyone’s Either
This one is another biggie. And if you are a creator yourself, you are bound to hit the wall of comments and opinions at some point.
Some will be simply malicious. Others might be well-meaning, but misinformed- or simply a matter of personal preference. And some will be informative and constructive for your growth.
(Hint: this last category is the only one you need to take into account).
Because here’s the thing:
Nobody likes getting criticized. But if you want to persevere and flourish in your field, it’s absolutely and 100% necessary. And I will say that all kinds of criticism- the useless and the useful- are necessary for your growth. Because learning to distinguish between them will be your biggest WIN in the game of putting yourself out there.
As a little note here: criticism does NOT equate abuse. If someone is being plain abusive to you in any way, feel free to block them or to even take more serious legal measures if needed.
Now, the reason I don’t think you should take just anyone’s advice is because a lot of times people will try and help you, but will have no actual knowledge of your field.
It might be a friend’s personal preference that you edit pictures in a certain gradient, for example. If that’s not your own aesthetic, feel free to disregard their opinion.
But if you are taking a lead photographer’s class for example, it will probably help you to actually try and implement their teachings. Not to say experts know everything- but at least testing out their tips is a pretty good starting point in learning a craft.
And finally, with all the advice you get (expert or not), the most important thing I’ve personally found is testing it out for yourself.
You might learn that a very valid piece of advice might not suit your particular case. Or an unlikely hack might actually take your game next level.
Whatever you do, trust your gut and stay true to your own vision and mission.
Because it really is on you to learn to accept the vast volume of information that will get thrown at you, and to start panning for the gold nuggets hidden in the multitude of advice and opinions.
Creativity is About Community
Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that creativity is all about community.
As I mentioned above, when you create something, you take a little piece of yourself and put it out there for the whole world to see. Which can be nerve-racking, but also exhilarating!
Because the power of a community (whether it’s made up of 10 people of 10.000) is its ability to inspire and raise you.
Now this can be your community of readers, followers, subscribers and so on. But it can also be the community of creators you find along the way. The kindred spirits that share your passion and your struggle.
And whether they are in the same field as you or not, building these relationships, learning from each other and inspiring each other is a priceless part of being a creator.
On the other hand, think of those who receive your creations and benefit from them. That, I can wholeheartedly say, is an incredibly fulfilling part of community building.
I love thinking about how what I put out there helps others! I love reading their feedback, and improving on what I offer them based on it. It is one of the most motivating parts of being a personal style content creator for me.
Because in my eyes, nothing makes women more beautiful than their confidence, their love and appreciation for themselves and for their fellows.
And if I can help a woman more confidently express herself, her inner world to the outside one through her personal style, then my mission is 100% complete!