And How to Be More Creative by Overcoming Them
Odds are if you’ve found this blog, you’re trying to be a more creative person. You’ve got a passion and a goal but for some reason every night finds you no closer to achieving it. In reality, there are five reasons, and they’re more like excuses. The same five have come up over and over again while consulting and collaborating with creative people, so let’s talk about how to be more creative by overcoming these five most common excuses.
Excuse #1: I Don’t Have Time
This is definitely the biggest excuse not to be more creative. Things just come up, and the urgent beats out the important, and the next thing you know it’s late and you’ve got work in the morning. “The problem with life is that it’s so daily,” someone once said. But you may also have heard that “you make time for what you value.” Guess what – it’s true!
If you want to be more creative, your creative passion has to become a high priority. Here are some ways to make that happen:
- Make it the first thing you do each day. Before you let chores and errands take up your time, spend an hour on your creative passion. This might mean getting up an hour earlier for work, or just waiting to check your email.
- Try an Unplug Hour. You’ll probably be surprised by how much time you can get back from small pursuits that don’t really matter, and how far you can go if you reinvest that time in your creative passion.
- Create in small doses and use healthy multitasking. Take the opposite approach and fit your passion into the nooks and crannies of your day; we call this Everyday Creativity. The more creative you are in your life, the more you’ll be motivated to find more ways to be creative!
The Spare Room Project is passionate about time management for creativity, so be sure to subscribe for more articles and resources about it.
Excuse #2: I Don’t Have Space
The spark of discovery that started The Spare Room Project was just how powerful a dedicated creative space could be. For many of our readers, though, the apartment is too small, or the house is too full, or the kids are already in the spare bedroom. This excuse takes on many forms, but it’s always the same problem: a dedicated creative space seems impossible. But making that space is easier than you think.
- Start small. Ally at Inyeri Designs designs stunning jewelry and runs a business around it, all with just a card table! If you can set aside even a small space like that, you can do a lot more than you think.
- Commit to it. Even if it’s just a card table, don’t set your groceries on that table just because it’s the only clean place in the house, or move your toolbox in the room while you’re cleaning out the garage. Remember that bit about priorities?
Having your creative passion like artwork or music in the same place means you don’t have to set it all up and put it all away every time you find that spare moment; you’ll have more time for actual creativity and more motivation to get to it.
Excuse #3: I Don’t Have the Resources
It’s more likely you just don’t know where to find them. It is true that on some level you get out of your art what you put into it. But much of what you need to pursue your creative passion may be available for free, or for less than you were expecting. Here are some ways to find it:
- Software. A lot of high-end multimedia production software has free or open-source counterparts that can produce comparable results, or at least get you started and build the skills you’ll need to succeed. The Spare Room Project has assembled a comprehensive list of that software called Adobo Hoboshop, that covers everything from video editing to music production.
- Make it work. Most solutions don’t have to be elegant. For instance, you can make a serviceable mic shield out of your laundry! Jenn was able to produce a professional-quality voice-over demo reel using only a $7 desktop mic that she had on hand, some free music beds and commercial scripts, and Audacity (part of Hoboshop – seriously, look that over).
- Collaborate. Look for other people with the experience or the resources you need. There may be an online community like a subreddit already built around the passion you have. Or you may be able to find someone in your area that you can collaborate with. People are drawn to a project when there is a specific purpose and the energy to make it happen, and once you’ve built that network you’ll be equipped to succeed in ways you never expected.
Excuse #4: I’m Not Good Enough
Strangely enough, it’s easy to move past this excuse when you except it as true. The difference is in how you respond to it:
- There’s always going to be someone you feel is better than you. Here’s the kicker: there’s always going to be someone THAT person feels is better than THEM! Why let that stand in your way? Instead, use it as a catalyst for growth.
- Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. The only thing you can control is yourself. You don’t have to be as good as the masters you admire, just better than you were yesterday.
- Push yourself to improve. Set improvement goals, and keep track of your progress. Keep setting higher goals and you’ll be surprised at how far you can go. Keep learning from places like TSRP. One improvement goal can be to learn a new skill, or part of a new skill, every week. The more you learn, the better you will become!
Your perceived inadequacies should be incentive to improve, not reasons to abandon your passion.
Excuse #5: I’m Not Original
This last excuse is the trickiest one to deal with. First, realize that on some level, nothing is original; stories and music can’t help but borrow tropes or ideas from the ones that came before. (Check out ‘Everything’s a Remix’ for more on this topic.)
Secondly, much like the last excuse, this shouldn’t hold you back. Some of the most well-loved stories are not ‘original.’ The story of Cinderella has been reinterpreted over and over with great success; Christoper Paolini’s fantasy novel Eragon borrows shamelessly from stories like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars; even Shakespeare borrowed from Chaucer and Plutarch, among others.
Don’t let perceived originality stop you from pursuing your creativity! Instead:
- Embrace un-original ideas. Make it your mission to find material to adapt, then think outside of the box about how to make it your own. This doesn’t apply just to writing: you can adapt a painting, a video, and so much more. Study other examples of your art and borrow freely until you find your own unique voice.
- Stop limiting yourself. Abandoning your ideas over and over will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Let yourself free-write your ideas (or free-draw, or whatever your medium is). See where your mind can take you. It’s easier to tone down a crazy, but inspired idea than it is to breathe inspiration into something that doesn’t resonate with you.
This is so true and I needed it pointed out to me. I also appreciate the suggestions for getting past the excuses with practical do-able changes. Great! Thank you!
So glad to hear it, Mary – this is why we do what we do!