Put your toolbox together (and learn how to use your tools)
No matter what you want to do, there will be things you need to know in order to get it done. I got my first camera when I was in fourth grade. People always told me that I had a good eye for photography. I liked hearing that because it meant that I was taking good pictures. And I kept taking good pictures for years, with a few great images here and there. And then I took a photography class. And that one class turned into a minor. And then I started attending workshops. And once I really started to have a solid understanding I started getting better equipment. I spent a summer working at a camera store and met plenty of people that started by getting the better equipment but then brought their images to our store and asked why their camera couldn’t take a good picture. Learn to use your tools, whatever they may be, as you build your toolbox. And once you have it, keep those tools sharp. And remember, just because you aren’t good at something now doesn’t mean you can’t become better at it.
Set time aside and practice being creative
Believe it or not, creativity isn’t just something you are born with. Sure, some people may innately be more creative than others. But the reality is that the people you look up to most for being creative are probably the ones that spend the most time doing creative things. So write, scribble, doodle or do whatever else you do. But do it every day. I took a class where it was required to make a daily post to Tumblr. Some days I loved doing this. Most days, not so much. But my skills improved and I started having an easier time creating things by the end of the semester. Sitting around and wishing to be more creative will only let everyone else pass you by.
Give yourself permission to fail
Believe it or not, creative people fail too. In fact, they probably fail more often than others. Success and failure are not the end result. They are part of the creative process. Chase Jarvis said, “Allow yourself the freedom to step away from perfection because it is only then that you can find success.” Have you ever taken a close look at a painting done by a master? If you have, did you notice the texture of the canvas they painted on? Probably not because many of these artists made mistakes or didn’t like their work so they painted over top of it. Just because you don’t see the failures did mean they didn’t happen. And usually, these are the things that lead to success. And notice that I did not mention perfection. Perfection does not equal success, let alone creativity. Creativity can be messy and chaotic, so just learn to enjoy the process and not get bogged down when things don’t turn out the way you want them too.
Share what you do
Not all ideas are good ideas. Sometimes good ideas can become great ideas. But most of the time we are so invested in what we are doing that we don’t realize what isn’t working or what would work better. Again from Jarvis, “It’s really a great asset to be willing to fail and blow it, so to speak, and to be okay with just making stuff, sharing it and getting feedback.” Feedback is another important part of being creative. Every class that I have been in that I do creative work, whether it be photography, writing or design has involved some type of critique. Sometimes they are great and people really love the work you do. Other times it is downright painful to hear what others have to say. But getting feedback helps you understand what tools you need to sharpen and helps you see things that can take your work to the next level.
Love what you do and just be you
My final piece of advice is to enjoy what you are doing while you are doing it. Don’t worry about how someone else would do it. Don’t worry about if someone else could do it better (they probably could). Because all of that is irrelevant. Let your personality shine through your work. You will never be able to create something just like someone else. But guess what, no one else will ever create it the same way as you. As James Victore said, “Put your weird in your work!” That is what makes what you do so wonderful. And as soon as you realize that lesson, you will find more enjoyment in the process of messing up and making mistakes otherwise known as creativity.
By Nathan Bennion