Almost 200 days ago, I started a project called Create Every Day. Yes, it’s just as mind-blowingly complicated as it sounds, I create something every day (flexible on the something). The so-called magic allegedly happens somewhere around 1am each night, when I carve out a little me-time to photograph, photoshop, doodle, craft, code, cook, etc.
I’ll tell you now, it’s not all inspiration and rainbows. Sometimes I giggle to myself with excitement as I animate small cutouts of mini-Kevins diving into an empty boxed wine container and other times I begrudgingly pull myself out of bed to lazily photoshop a burger on a Banksy painting. Yet so far, this open-ended journey has provided some new perspective on not only what it means to be “creative” but also how to maintain a habit through thick and thin.
Hence, here’s five delicious scoops of that perspective sundae–a couple things I’ve learned from Creating Every Day:
1. Define Your Zone
Keep doing your work in that favorite spot, keep listening to that certain special song on repeat, keep wearing that pair of headphones. Physical cues and a familiar environment can definitely get you in the right mood (hehe). This is not to say you won’t still get frustrated or stuck, but defining your space and associating an act with tangible cues can help move you along.
2. Create Constraints
…Even if they’re random and arbitrary. I’ve definitely had nights where I’ve been at a loss until I said to myself, “Ok. I’m going to make something clever out of this salt and pepper shaker.” Asking yourself to produce something from nothing is a pressure cooker situation. Asking yourself to get clever with a certain set of resources is a manageable puzzle. Get all MacGyver on it. Work within constraints.
3. Start Moving
Sometimes you just gotta put your pen to the pad and start doodling. I just heard a great quote from Chuck Close in Andrew Zuckerman’s “Wisdom” project (so good),
Inspiration is for amateurs.
If you plan to wait for the skies to part, the movie montage music to fade in, and other convenient magical events (e.g. the entire plot of all seven Harry Potter books), you’re not going to create a lot of work. Sit down, start in, and get to it. Connections will emerge, and things will come.
4. Know How the Good Stuff Tastes
I think there’s a certain feeling you get when you become truly excited about what you’ve made. For me, I become that slightly odd person smiling and laughing to himself in the corner. And when I turn into that giddy school girl I know I’m doing my best work. Know what it feels like when you’re in the groove. It’s obviously not going to happen all the time, but it’ll keep you honest and remind you of why you’re there.
5. Embrace the Just Because
I feel like there’s a lot of focus on following the process, doing your research, and making purposeful choices when it comes to creative output. Don’t get me wrong, that’s important. Nonetheless sometimes I think you need to feel free to make brash decisions. Follow your gut, do something just because you think it’s awesome, and don’t sweat it too much. That contrast between well thought out elements and sprinkles of instinctual unpredictability keeps it interesting.
I find a lot of my creations not particularly special. if you pick apart every single morsel, there’s no way they’ll all be shiny and radiant. I think it’s when you look at the sum of that day to day and recognize the type of basic human love you need to “do you” day in and day out, things get interesting.
The journey continues (looking to make 365 days,) and I’m curious to see what happens. But as with many things, I think it’s important s to just take it one day at a time.