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.

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Searching for Success: Just Do It (2/4)

You’ve probably seen this cliched and probably copy written term used over and over, but it’s core meaning could never be more true. In order to be successful we need to come terms with the fact that we need to mentally and/or physically do something in order to achieve the goals we have planned to be achieved, but often we can allow other things to get in the way of our own success.

Personally I will often blame ‘life’ (See Life vs. Creativity), but I know that if I am going to consider life to be a hurdle that I must jump, then I also need to consider whether my goals are too unreasonable for myself if they do not take life into consideration. However, I still understand that a goal will not be achieved until I do something to aid it’s achievement.

Procrastination is easy to succumb to, and by giving into it we can encourage creative depression to creep in and take control over our own success. It’s often hard to believe that if we simply fight procrastination enough in order to just do something that the creative juices will start to flow and we will be one step closer to achieving our goal. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been sat binge watching box set series instead of working on my creativity; too easily allowing the next episode to play disregarding the time flying by. At the end of the day I ask myself where the time has gone wondering why I hadn’t gotten anything done, thus introducing a self loathing induced by my own self discipline.

Creativity is an exercise that when practised will naturally evolve and encourage us to take the next steps needed in order to achieve our goals, but until we just do it and get into the zone of acting on our goals, we won’t be successful. It’s not until you understand this and have the discipline to practise it that you will become successful.

Creative Depression (1/4): The Need to Create

“…a constant nagging sense of failure…”

Creatives thrive on the need to create, and in order to create there has to be something to achieve that hasn’t already. The drive to create is a constant nagging sense of failure until you have achieved your goal, but once said goal is achieved, we constantly think of the next goal ahead; and until then the sense of failure kicks in again.

A musician like myself may write a new piece of music, and for the few minutes whilst I’m listening to that newly finished piece of music I feel amazing; but what’s next? Instead of taking time to enjoy my achievement, I have an overwhelming desire to write another new piece of music, and until that new piece of music is finished I’ll often subconsciously feel that catastrophic sense of failure.

“…we constantly seek improvement…”

This brutal cycle that many of us may recognise can be the demise of the creative. Our brains constantly think about our next steps and we constantly seek improvement, but rarely recognise how we have improved through our previous works. It’s too easy to be overly critical of ourselves by focussing on the negative rather than the positive; but these feelings can be harnessed. Depression can be adapted and converted into a creative drive in order to cease any form of creative block in the future. That overwhelming sense of failure can actually be manipulated into working for us as creatives, rather than letting it spiral into a pool of self loathing.

“…recognise your need to create…”

Taking the first step to understanding that your creative depression may simply be caused by a need to create may help you to positively change your future. I touched on this previously when talking about ‘Life Vs Creativity’, as when you recognise your need to create, you can make a decision to enable that need, and by doing so you can enable your own success as creatives in the future.

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.

Life vs Creativity (4/4): Make a Decision

This feels to me to be the perfect time to write this. I’ve recently been finishing my Human Imperfections EP, and if you follow my posts you will notice that I’ve had to delay it’s official release due to illness; illness partly caused by stress. This illness lead to me not being able to sit down and do the final mixes comfortably, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t rushing the process for the sake of it… Thus begins the final blog post regarding ‘Life vs Creativity’.

“…consider which is more important.”

At the end of the day, in order to be creative we need to have the time to do so. In order to do this we may need to reconsider what’s more important; creativity or life? It’s a decision that I’ve made over and over again, and this can lead to some awkward situations. Perhaps work is getting in the way? Well then work needs to change. Perhaps social time with friends is getting in the way? True friends will be understanding and supportive. Perhaps you’ve been successful with creativity and it’s lead to being so busy being creative for someone else, that you can’t be creative for yourself perusing the true career you desire. Consider each thing, and consider which is more important.

“…you will benefit, and those around you will also benefit.”

Making the decision to allow time for your creativity will benefit you both creatively and emotionally. If creativity is important, and you’re not getting to be creative, you will likely dive into a pit of depression, possibly un-aware of the cause; and this could be it. If you make the decision of which is more important to you then you will benefit, and those around you will also benefit. I often find myself apologising if I’m in a mood, as often it’s down to not having the time to be creative and do the thing I really love. Without becoming too self-loathing, really think about how what you do affects the people around you, and what you should do to improve that affect.

“…allow yourself the downtime after the fact; otherwise you will burn out…”

To add to this, as I have learned you need to realise if you’re trying to do too much at once. We can all make the time, but are we allowing time for rest and de-stress from life? It is as important to rest as it is to do the things we love. Creativity is work. This obviously depends on your personal opinion of whether creativity is simply a hobby or your career, but despite the outcome it involves huge amounts of brain power to be creative, and you need to allow yourself the downtime after the fact; otherwise you will burn out and find you are unable to achieve the things you wanted to achieve originally. There is only so much the body can take.

“…we need to realise that sometimes we need to do what we want to do.”

Whenever you make these decisions, you will immediately see spikes in your creativity and productivity. Stress and anxiety can often hold us back from doing what we want to do as we don’t believe we need to do it. For our own mental health and well-being we need to realise that sometimes we need to do what we want to do. So it’s time to make a decision that counts, and follow through with it. We only have ourselves to blame for any dry spell in creativity, but don’t allow that blame to last and get you down or get in the way. Take action and move forward.

Life vs Creativity (1/4)

“…your standard day to day workings that take up your creative time.”

Many things can get in the way of our creativity. I often refer to this as ‘Life’; by this I mean your standard day to day workings that take up your creative time. If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to deal with life in such way, then I salute you, you’ve hit the jackpot, but there are so many creatives I know that commonly struggle with this.

Creatives use their talents on a daily basis, but often struggle to create what they really want to themselves. Perhaps they’re a composer working hard writing music for film and television, but would prefer to be writing their own symphony. A cameraman filming daily, yet never directing their own film. A writer/journalist reporting everyday, yet never able to write their own story. I personally spent a year teaching music technology, only wishing the whole time to be making music for myself rather than teaching others.

“…should we really do this to our own detriment?’

Now this may appear selfish. Why have a talent and not use it to help others? This is true, and I agree that we should always help others when we can. We should use what we have learned in life to teach and guide others, but should we really do this to our own detriment? I recently had a conversation with someone about this such subject, people who study in order to go straight into teaching. It is something I can’t quite comprehend, as we all need to experience life in one way or another before passing on our experiences, and when moving straight into teaching after study, when have we had the time to experience the real world? Teaching is certainly a great way to earn a living and find fulfillment, but what does it cost in terms of our own creativity? Does it allow us to truly be creative for ourselves?

I’m not going to concentrate on teaching but thinking about that time in my life led me review my own ‘creative life’. I began to map out when I had been the most creative and what I was doing at that moment. Previously I’ve spoken about Planning Creativity which has been the first step to making sure I allow myself to be creative, but in the past I hadn’t needed to plan. It led me to think; “Why was that?”.

“…is it going to be a never ending battle between the two?’

As we grow older life begins to throw more and more our way. We may find a day job that we enjoy to earn our keep or a partner share our time with as we being to settle down. We begin to consider what the future holds for us, but where in that future is our creativity? Is there enough space to allow life and creativity to live happily side by side or is it going to be a never ending battle between the two?

This is a question that we have to decide for ourselves as it will never naturally sway either way. It involves our own discipline to get things done; to plan ahead and choose our own path in the creative world.

If you’re like me, and have decided for certain that you want creativity to be part of your life in a more established way, then over the next few blogs I’ll be going through a few steps I’m taking in order to achieve this. It involves dedication, discipline, time, organisation, inspiration, willingness, sacrifice, energy, and above all –  Patience.