This article is a great reminder to put your ideas onto paper and not just let them sit in your head. I continuously remind myself to do this every time I start on new projects or even day to day tasks when I feel stuck.
“McDonald’s Theory”, by Jon Bell.
Projects start in different ways. Sometimes you’re handed a formal brief. Sometimes you hear a rumor that something might be coming so you start thinking about it early. Other times you’ve been playing with an idea for months or years before sharing with your team. There’s no defined process for all creative work, but I’ve come to believe that all creative endeavors share one thing: the second step is easier than the first. Always.
Dive in. Do. Stop over-thinking it.
The next time you have an idea rolling around in your head, find the courage to quiet your inner critic just long enough to get a piece of paper and a pen, then just start sketching it.
Stop sabotaging yourself.
It takes a crazy kind of courage, of focus, of foolhardy perseverance to quiet all those doubts long enough to move forward. But it’s possible, you just have to start.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
– Ira Glass
I usually keep a post-it note on my desk to help remind myself what my next steps should be when I’m feeling unsatisfied, confused, burnt out, or steering off course.
Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.
Be disciplined. Work hard. Be prepared to hear “no” a lot and don’t care. My dad taught me an important lesson, which is to look at why someone does something rather than what they actually do.
– Oliver Jeffers via The Great Discontent
Pleasure. Flow. Meaning.
– Ping Fu via Creative Mornings
“Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.”
— via The Atlantic
Get good at discomfort. Avoiding discomfort is very common, but a big mistake. Learning to be OK with some discomfort will change your life.
Leo Babauta via Advice to My Kids
I found this blog post through Tina aka Swiss Miss and I think his words are simple yet powerful and brings us back to what really matters in our lives. I’ve been in a lot of uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and nerve-wracking situations over the last half year, but they’ve helped me realize how capable I am of overcoming anything that comes my way, and I believe that’s true for everyone. I think it’s so important for everyone to feel empowered and not feel stuck somewhere because they feel they can’t overcome something. There will always be the bad with the good and we don’t always have to see it as ‘bad’, but more of a learning experience. I’m slowly trying to train myself not to beat myself up over little setbacks, but learn from them and move forward. “Take a larger perspective: will this matter in five years? Most likely the answer is no.”
Yesterday I had to bare the cold weather when I went to Dana Tanamachi‘s talk at Parsons that AIGA hosted. I haven’t been back at Parsons since graduation and it was one of the best reasons to be back. I don’t remember the first time I saw her work that completely mesmerized me, but I was hooked instantly. I’ve always been a sucker for hand lettering work. I would kill to have any ounce of that kind of talent and patience. I blame my lack of patience for being able to go into that field of work. I also have horrible handwriting, so I think I’m all out of luck in that department. Anyway, hearing about anyone’s process I think is inspiring and her’s included, she mentioned a book that my sister actually recommended me read a few months back, which was Quitter by Jon Acuff. To be honest I only read through the first couple of chapters and I never finished (haha), but I do think it’s a really helpful book for people at a crossroads between their day job and their dream job. I agree to staying at your day job while doing things that you love on the side, however, if your day job is burning you out then I think it’s at your best interest to leave. Once you feel burnt out you have no energy to be creative or feel inspired, honestly you just want to go home and sleep. I guess I speak from my own personal experience. Everyone’s different.
Dana spoke about anonymity and how you can use that to grow, make mistakes, and learn without the pressures that comes with being in the spotlight. I guess I never thought of it that way and now I realize it’s so important to focus on the positives while growing in your creative practice, and anonymity isn’t such a bad thing. Towards the end of her talk she did a brief QA with the audience and something she said that really stuck with me, which I think is relevant for everyone in any field, was:
Progress, not perfection.
Keeping chugging along, you’ll get there as long as you keep going.
* Image above is of alphabet paperweights by Dana Tanamachi with West Elm.