Even writing the title of this blog made me cringe. In a world where it seems like everything is being ‘actioned’ and ‘goal-centred,’ surely our art is the one place where we can relax a bit? Creativity thrives on play, on spontaneity, on impulse.
Having said that, in our increasingly cramped lives, you often find that the only way you actually get anything done is by planning a window in which to be spontaneous. As much as I baulk at the idea of throwing office jargon at something as fragile as the creation of things, I think there are some areas where it would really benefit. Here’s a few I’ve been trying out recently:
It’s always hard to cope with your work being rejected, no matter how many times it’s happened!
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1. Coping With Rejection
Although he was doing science rather than art, Edison went through his share of failure. Rather than giving up and assuming he was a rubbish scientist, he took each backwards step as an opportunity to evaluate. This article has some lovely ideas on how you can separate the creative process from the evaluative process, hopefully allowing those ‘thanks for submitting to us but…’ emails to come with a promise of positive change in the future, rather than only carrying the sting of rejection.
2. Sticking to your Goals
As much as I would love the idea that I can just hang around until inspiration strikes, if I did that I’d probably still be on chapter three of my first book. Let’s face it, we all need to push ourselves through the difficult days when each word or stroke feels like agony in order to get to the lovely, flowing days when the word count or the piece appears in front of us like magic.
Taking this 90-day approach to your creative work helps you narrow down exactly what you need to get done each day/week/month. I’ve now narrowed down my goals from three months, to each week, to each day. There’s a lovely plan on my wall and everything. Will let you know how it goes! You can also use my Word Log for 2021 to help you keep track of those pesky words.
Using spreadsheets is a great way to keep track of submissions windows for your favourite magazines and competitions
3. Honing Your Skills
For many years, I dabbled in writing. I’d write journals while I was in interesting places, or scribble down the odd story, observation or poem. It wasn’t something I took seriously, so I didn’t see why I should spend time or money on it. Although you absolutely don’t need a Masters to write, it helped to give me the sense that what I was doing was worthwhile. If you approach it through the eyes of a business, you are developing a saleable and valuable asset that will help and nourish others. That’s huge. It was only once I’d started to see my work and myself this way that I was finally able to put aside huge chunks of time to writing longer pieces and developing my craft.
4. Turning Your Creativity Into A Business
I realise this won’t be for everyone but it’s definitely an option. I’m only six months into this and while it’s been very hard work it’s also bloody great to spend all your time on stuff you love. I’ve set up my own community writing project, am hosting writing workshops and making good progress with my publishing goals. Next on the list is a writing course – more to follow soon! After taking the Underpinned freelance marketing course, it’s really helped me to appreciate how anyone who is creative is offering a solution to a problem, and that people will pay for it. After appraising all the skills I’ve garnered over years of teaching and writing, I’m bursting with ideas about how to expand and build on all things creative in order to make it my livelihood.
Asking for money for creative work acknowledges the time, effort and skill that you put into it
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5. Appreciating Your Worth
This is an industry-wide problem as well as a personal one. The amount of places that will publish your work for ‘exposure’ is mind-boggling. From producing creative work to teaching creativity, it’s already something that’s hugely undervalued. So you definitely need to make sure it’s something you value in yourself.
This is definitely one that I’m still learning. From paying myself less for workshops than the writers I recruited to drastically underestimating the cost of paying myself a decent wage, I can easily see how you can sell yourself short. Not only that, but in a world where writing and other artistic pursuits are often passed off as hobbies, it can be hard to really value what you do and the work you produce. Although it seems a bit callous at first, if you start to think of the work you create, the services you offer and the beauty and imagination you bring to the world as a valuable service or product, it’s much easier to appreciate that you can ask for money for the things you do.
How could you use some of these ideas to improve your creative output? Do let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments.
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