Being an Independent Creative (4/4): It’s OK to Want a Break

Every so often we simply need a break. We need to take a step back and re-evaluate things. Sometimes this is a choice. We take ourselves on holiday and cut ourselves off from our everyday surroundings. Sometimes though this isn’t an option, we plummet downwards until eventually our brain subconsciously decides for us “STOP”, this is when too much is simply too much, and your body will take control in possibly the most horrible ways it can think of. It’s important to recognise these times before they arrive and make a decision to take a break. Choose to do this yourself don’t wait for your body to force you into it.

Taking a break to re-evaluate helps yourself and those around you. Unfortunately though being an independent creative can mean that you have to come to this realisation on your own rather than with others, and this can be difficult; REALLY difficult.

Often we want to succeed and do well, we want to achieve what we have set out to achieve and do what we believe others expect us to do, but unless those achievements are truly our own passion and what we want to do we’ll subconsciously sabotage ourselves and those around us. I’m not of the opinion that we should ever change ourselves for others but I certainly believe that we should make a decision to change if it could be affecting others as well as ourselves. It’s unfair to take others down or slow somebody else if we’re doing the same thing to ourselves, but it’s OK to ask for help. Most will understand and support you.

Take a break, ask for help. You may be surprised that despite being independent that there are others around you who have either been, or are going through the same thing as you.

Advertisements

Being an Independent Creative (3/4): Self Motivation

So I’ve briefly mentioned the comparison between being an independent creative and an independently run cafe. One core comparison that I’d like to delve into is the self motivation needed in order to achieve both. If independently running a cafe is your means to live and support your livelihood then your creative independence should essentially be seen in the same light.

Whatever you’re role, everyone has days when they get up and can’t face the day, you wake up and you simply can’t be bothered. These are the days that are the hardest, and when these days happen continuously one after the other then it becomes even harder. The smallest amount of self motivation you had to begin with quickly starts to slip away from your grasp and nothing you do ever seems to help that grasp get any tighter.

This is that moment in time when as an independent we have to evaluate who we are and what we really want to achieve. I mentioned before, we can’t make an excuse, we have to make a decision; this statement should almost become a mantra to you when waking up in these moods. By saying to yourself ‘I can’t make an excuse I have to make a decision’ when you wake up gives yourself only one choice: Decide what you need to do in order to change your attitude, in order to feel happier, in order to be healthier.

I’ve come to realise that my self motivation depletes when I’m simply not being creative and ignoring this question. Everyday I get up and make excuses without making decisions. I don’t decide not to be creative it just happens. I subconsciously procrastinate and blame it on my mood or the fact that I simply don’t feel like it. Self motivation is key here. Getting up and wasting your time on things you don’t really need to be doing is the excuse.

Make a decision to move forward, make a decision to change your attitude, make a decision to be happier.

Being a Creative Independent (2/4): What it Means

I’d like to make an observational comparison. If you know me you know that most of my time is actually taken up by serving coffee/tea/food. It’s my day job and I enjoy it. It’s what keeps me afloat financially and I like to think I’m good at it.

What this also means is that I like to visit other places that do the same thing, or rather I like to visit the people. This comparison is between Independent Creatives and Independent cafes. There’s been an ever increasing amount of them pop up over past years and they are something I’m quite fond of.

When I visit an independent cafe the one thing I like to see is the owner behind the counter. The owner working hard and setting an example to their staff or to their customers. The reason I like to see this is that I like to see the passion behind the product. Even if they’re not the best at what they’re doing, I like to see them trying, learning and improving at their skill with each visit I make.

What ultimately puts me off is when I don’t see or stop seeing the owner. Now this can be for a couple of reasons which are completely understandable. 1) There’s too much work that needs to be done behind the scenes in order for the shop to run and to support their staff or 2) They’ve discovered new ways to make even more money and leave the shop to it’s own devices to go and start making more money rather than delivering their product.

The latter although still independent, I start to drift away from. Despite however many hipsters they’ve got working behind the counter, the latter I see as business. I completely understand that opening and running a cafe is a business, and that you have to be business minded in order to open and run it effectively; however I’d like to imagine that in an ideal world can’t someone open a cafe and be content with the success which allows them to meet financial needs at home rather than constantly search for the next money making venture in order to make even more of a profit?

It’s also extremely rare to find staff as passionate about the product as the owner. The staff may appear to be and act as if they are but at the end of the day they are there to get paid.

I’ve diverged from the point a little here I understand, but being an independent creative is about using your own passion and skills to set an example and to show to those around you. We each have a skill set and being independent is about using this to the best of your abilities and showing others what we have and what we can do or what we want to say; not by using other people to get the job done, and not by looking to be like other standard models (ie. what’s ‘hip’ at the time). We’ve all seen it. The producer that just makes dubstep, the producer that just makes hip hop, the producer that just makes drum and bass, or just makes IDM (the list goes one). There’s nothing wrong with these producers if they have their own sound and take on the genre, but many of them don’t. They’ve affixed themselves to a genre and bound themselves to a set of rules that are rarely broken. They aren’t unique (enough) to warrant being listened too, their abilities are respected, but their personality isn’t heard. Perhaps their aspirations are met but it’s still not who they are. Many people can make genre specific music by abiding to set of rules just as many people can make coffee by abiding to a set of rules, but what sets them apart?

When you walk into a cafe and see the owner their product is their living. There’s an element of care you don’t see from the other workers. If you find that element of care in the other staff members then the owner has been lucky enough to hit a gold mine; but this occurrence happens rarely. Many people apply for a job as a means to make money and that’s it. Of course they want to be happy doing what they’re doing, but as long as they’re getting paid they’re happy and content; it’s down to the owner to pay them right? When it’s the owner behind the counter you see a different mindset in action. This is their living and they could be a deep trouble if they don’t meet the standards set by themselves. That mindset transfers into their product and what they put down in front of you. You don’t see this in those who have succumbed to the love of money until they witness the dissatisfaction on the customers face for themselves (which once they’ve hit the big time they rarely do).

Being independent is about being your own voice, representing yourself and finding a way to be heard in a world where there are plenty of other people being good at what you’re trying to do also. What makes a good independent is the individuality and differences which come from your own personality, not trying to copy something from pinterest or instagram. Being different is when you don’t follow a trend. You simply be. Be independent.

Being an Independent Creative (1/4): It’s Tough

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s hard work. Being independent in any shape or form can be hard. it can be lonely. Even if you have people by your side in other aspects of your life being an independent creative can take it’s toll mentally and/or physically. It gets easier when you learn how to manage it and find what works for you, but even when you think you’ve got it nailed something around you or inside of you can change.

When you’re independent it can often mean that it’s just you; by this I mainly mean one person. You’re the one with the ideas, you’re the one with the passion that you want to pursue. Others around you can show support but you’re essentially running every job description listed on a large corporations payrole, this is why things may happen slowly and I guess why we have so much more time to overthink.

Thinking can have positive and negative effects. In one hand how would you be a creative without having the ability to think? In the other hand overthinking and over analysing can lead to a negative perspective about what you are doing. Is what I’m doing good enough? Who really cares? Why should I keep pursuing this?

I’m of that negative mindset right now. At the start of the year I set a goal to blog each week, but last week for some reason it just didn’t happen. I tried. I sat and I started typing, but each word I was typing seemed utterly pointless. Absolute garbage. I have deadlines to meet this year in more ways than one. Deadlines that could push my creativity career forward yet I have no motivation what so ever to get them done. No drive. I wonder why that is?

Sometimes no matter what goals you set, however detailed your plan is or however much passion you have about doing something, sometimes you simply just can’t be bothered. This isn’t procrastination, (I prefer to see procrastination as replacing your creative time with other tasks in order to put off the creative process) you simply just can’t be bothered to do anything. You have the time, you have the resources, you know what you need to do but you simply just can’t be bothered.

I discovered a new word the other day. Anhedonia. It’s a term used to describe the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities (according to google); and it’s an interesting term. It’s heavily linked to depression. However I find it’s loose definition intriguing. It can have severe affects of literally not feeling anything emotionally or physically, but as google has defined it can simply mean that you don’t find pleasure in something you normally would. You may still find pleasure in other aspects of life, but perhaps one aspect has changed. Finding pleasure is often what drives the want and need to do it, and when you’re struggling to find pleasure, it’s hard to find the motivation to do it.

Sometimes it’s comforting to find a word that describes what you’re feeling, but it can also be disheartening as a realisation of what’s actually going on. The spiral that can lead on from there can be devastating; yet another pit of self loathing can be formed due to simply one aspect of life that in the grand scheme of things really isn’t your whole life, but at times it can feel that way. It can appear to be the centre of your being, the reason you’re put on this earth. It’s what you were chosen to do. Or is it?

What I’ve come to realise is that independence can often mean that things need to be put on the back-burner, even if they’re the most important to you in your life. Set it aside whilst you deal with everything else that is going on, as everything else accumulating may end up having a negative effect on what’s important, and that’s something we have to avoid at all costs.

Searching for Success: Have Faith and Never Give Up (4/4)

“Real success comes from those who have faith in themselves…”

Faith is a very powerful thing. Having faith in yourself will encourage your own success. Having faith will also allow you to be more understanding of the speed of which you may become successful. By this I mean that success does not happen in a split second overnight. Overnight success comes and goes; like a one hit wonder in the pop charts. Real success comes from those who have faith in themselves, work hard and continue to work hard; although we all need a break now and again.

“It’s easy to only focus on your own singular big goal and forget about all of the other achievements…”

It’s important to recognise your own work and success sometimes in order to restore faith. A good exercise is to simply sit and write down or review your previous work. Look at the planned goals you have achieved but also recognise the unplanned goals you have achieved. By this, I mean those unexpected achievements that you may have forgotten about or were offered to you by someone else. It’s easy to only focus on your own singular big goal and forget about all of the other achievements that may have been made possible by working on that goal. It’s also important to understand that in the process of reaching you goal, that it will often intertwine with others also searching for success in their field.

For myself, this is every single gig I have ever been offered by a promoter from a venue, every interview on radio or for a blog/website, each album sale or words of encouragement from a fan, or questions of advice from other budding creatives who may deem me as being successful. My creative success is the process of making music, this is where my personal goals and achievements and success lie, everything else is an amazing bonus, but also a nudge in the right direction of another future personal goal; to earn part of my living through chosen use of creativity.

Real success is a timeline of small successful achievements throughout life, and to add to this all of the bonus achievements that come with it. Success isn’t one singular moment or achievement, their may be one achievement that overshadows others or out-dates them, but it’s often those who give up after such an achievement who in the not too distant future will be met again by creative depression. Our drive as creatives is to continue to be successful with whatever big ideas or problems we put in front of ourselves, and by having faith that we will be successful will help us to keep moving forward, never give up and be successful.