I have always been a creative person, that much I know. Remaining creative, however, is much harder the older you get and requires some effort where it was once just an emotional release. Having been working a full time job for the past two and a half years has really put a strain on the time I have to pursue hobbies and my overall energy throughout the day. Writing is my choice of expression; I find that it gives me the same dopamine release that many people experience from working out, eating good food, or having sex. I always feel happy and accomplished after I’ve written something creative, no matter how small or trivial it is because I know I am practicing my craft and constantly improving at it. But with this happiness also comes the insecurity that maybe your writing isn’t as good as you think. Or that other’s won’t even care to read it despite how much effort you’ve put into it.
I struggle with these insecurities on a daily basis and that stops me from doing a lot of the writing I feel that I could do. As you may notice, I’ve increased the amount of posts on this blog from about 1 a week to 4 (hopefully I can keep that up!) simply because I enjoy doing it and I know I can. It was a matter of pushing aside and doubts about what I was writing and just appreciating the fact that I was actually doing some writing. I’m sure many people feel this way toward whatever they're passionate about so I’ve compiled a list of tips that helped me fight through any insecurity and allow myself to be more creative, no matter how silly I may feel it is or how I think others will perceive me. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t harm anyone and makes you happy then it’s always worth doing.
JUST DO IT
The first and most obvious tip would be to just go for it. There’s no way to know if your creativity is being directed at the right hobby unless you just do it and experience everything it has to offer. For the most part, the only thing really standing in your way when it comes to pursing a creative outlet, whether that be writing, knitting, painting, etc, is yourself. Even doing it for the slightest bit of time a week I think is enough to satisfy your creative urge until you have more time (or make more time) to do it more often. This is the hardest tip for me to follow because of how time consuming it can be and how emotionally difficult it may seem to put yourself out there and unapologetically tell the world (or just your close friends and family) that you enjoy this hobby and want to dedicate as much time to it as you can. Growing up I used to get some flak from my family for the interests I had, mostly because they didn’t really have any of those interests themselves. I think this discouraged me a bit from giving myself that kick in the butt to continue pursuing it until I’d gotten much older and more in tune with myself and my personality.
HAVE ONGOING PROJECTS
I find that the best way to stay motivated to release your creativity is by having a few ongoing projects that keep you on your toes and constantly working at your craft. Not only am I posting on this blog for hopefully 4 days a week, cradling it like it is my seedling that will someday come to fruiting, but I am also working on a fiction blog with my friend and a movie podcast with my boyfriend. While this may all sound exhausting (it is), it has definitely kept me moving and thinking up different forms of content so that things don’t get stale on any of the 3 platforms. Your ongoing projects can be anything you enjoy, but knowing that there is something that requires your hard work will make you work harder and stay on track in the long run.
TALK ABOUT YOUR PASSION
When I like something, I can’t stop thinking about it. Because I am such an introvert, I don’t like to do much talking so most of my ideas and aspirations stay tucked away in the cozy ‘creativity’ section of my head while I pursue my hobby. While this is usually how I am toward any of my interests, I’ve started to realize that actually verbalizing what I enjoy and discussing it with a close friend or significant other seems to legitimize it more in my mind. Especially if the person I am talking about it to is encouraging and understanding of my hobby. A warm, fuzzy feeling overwhelms me when I am able to word-vomit all of my creative ideas onto someone who is willing to listen and provide some sort of inspiration that urges you to keep working at it. This verbalization doesn’t only have to take part out loud to an actually person, though. It can also happen online to people you may not even know and in non-traditional forms. For instance, posting pictures on Instagram or tweeting about any upcoming projects. Any of these can help with making you feel like your efforts are worth it because people are hearing about them.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
This tip ties into the one above because it not only involves action on your part, but on the part of the people in your life. It’s easy to say that your friends and family know of your interests, but it’s not always easy to say that they all wholeheartedly support your endeavours. Now, when I say they don’t ‘support you’, I don’t mean that they give you constructive criticism or don’t necessarily deeply involve themselves in your hobbies, but rather that they don’t think your passion is worth the effort or that maybe even you might not be good enough to achieve it. This is an important distinction to make because criticism is vital when it comes to art; that is how people become better and hone their skills. And when a friend doesn’t watch your YouTube videos on a daily basis that can still mean they completely support you, but may not be as into the topic as you are. And that’s okay, because there will always be people who are. It’s just a matter of being around people who understand that you have an urge to talk/write/direct/ create something and will not maliciously shoot down your self-esteem.
DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOUR WORK
I am notorious for criticizing myself and my writing to the point where I’ll never finish it because I don’t think it’s ever good enough for publishing. This thought is the “arrow to the knee”, so to speak. You have already lessened your chances of having your work appreciated or shared by anyone because you haven’t even finished it. No one is perfect and sometimes your work will be bad, but you won’t know that until you actually put it out there and receive the criticism that comes along with it. At that point it us up to you how you handle that criticism. Do you become discouraged and stop altogether? Or do you take note and re-evaluate the aspects of it that might not be received well? That’s not to say that one response is right and the other is wrong, it’s just about finding what works for you and will lead you to your idea of success.
At the end of the day, it’s all about loving what you do and doing what you love. It’s hard to stick with a project if you feel like you aren’t reaping any monetary rewards, but if you really enjoy it then just simply being able to do it will be enough. I think that when you have fun doing anything people will notice that and respond with the same kind of enthusiasm and understanding that you may not have seen in the early years of your endeavours.
How do you maintain your creativity?