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.

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 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: Setting Reasonable Goals (1/4)

“If we constantly increase our expectations we’ll never know when we’ve succeeded…”

Success to each person can have different meanings. It’s important that when we first set out to be successful in our chosen field that we set a goal; otherwise we may not accept our own success. If we constantly increase our expectations we’ll never know when we’ve succeeded in achieving our goals, and to begin with we shouldn’t set any goals that are too unreasonable or un-achievable. We need to start with a simple goal, map out what needs to be achieved (See Planning Creativity). and make sure to review our work and acknowledge our own success (see Creative Depression (3/4): Recognise Your Achievements, Overcome and Adapt)

Take this blog for example…

I set myself a goal to write a blog entitled ‘Searching for Success’. By beginning with the aim to write a blog to that subject matter I knew I could write a draft. I could then edit that draft to make sure it wasn’t too specific or too generic. I know that once I’ve finished writing it, I can hit publish. I know that by doing this I have been successful in achieving my initial goal. The goal wasn’t unreasonable or unachievable and I can now look back on it as an achievement.

Devil’s advocate might say however, “You’re only successful when 1000 people have read your blog”. I know that for myself, setting the goal of encouraging 1000 readers to read my blog wouldn’t be unachievable, but I would personally deem it as unreasonable. Setting such a goal would require a more time than I could justify dedicating to this project, yet simply writing a blog and publishing it can be justified.

“Understanding what success means to you personally is important…”

Your own opinion of success is personal. For me success is achieving what I’ve set out to do in the first place; not successful recognition by somebody else’s opinion. Understanding what success means to you personally is important, and having sensible goals in order to allow for success aid in the fight against ‘Creative Depression’.

Lastly, I’d like to just link you to a video that inspired this subject. Disregarding any of the stigma around the speaker, his words are valid to any creative. He talks about defining your expectations in relating to success in the music industry. (starting around 30s in, and lasting for around 5 minutes)

Creative Depression (4/4): Find Help For Your Personal Battle

“Breaking through depression can be a very positive experience…”

Depression covers many feelings that through my own experience I would never want anyone else to feel, but at the same time it’s these feelings that make us all human. Breaking through depression can be a very positive experience when taken on in the right manner, but you need to remember to ask for help.

Depression is a very personal thing and it can of course be spoken about with others but speaking rarely leads to the real truths in order to ‘fix’ it. Said truths can simply be too hard to understand by another, or sometimes they may seem fickle or lead to a misunderstanding of the cause or seriousness of the depression. Sometimes it be so convoluted and intricate that there can’t be any understanding due to the ever changing mind-map of someones brain, it can often be hard to summarise thoughts correctly in order to tell someone about them and It takes a very smart mind to do so; this means that we don’t often speak truthfully and openly about depression. We put a mask on in order to hide it, make excuses, or simply not recognise it at all. We don’t want attention but sometimes we need to reach out for a hand in order to gain a better understanding.

“Depression is a personal battles that we fight with every weapon we can get our hands on…”

I often say to people that I like to read a lot of self help books, and this is probably why I write in the way that I do. The reason I read self help is simply for advice. 75% of that advice could be utter nonsense that doesn’t relate to me, but 25% might ring true, and lead to a self revelation that can help me to move forward. Depression is a personal battles that we fight with every weapon we can get our hands on, personally self help enables me to fight that battle perhaps in a way a pill might help another.

Ask for help in your field of work or study, as it’s common that the battles you’re facing have been fought by others in a similar way, but maybe only 25% of their experience is relevant to yours. At least you can take that 25% to ensure you make your own better.

I have no training in Clinical Depression, and these articles or any other I write are not done via official research into the subject, but simply a personal opinion on how depression can often relate to creative people.