BY ERIN CORSTIAANS
If you want to live a creative life, you’ve got to want to live a creative life. And sometimes when we really want something, we need to make space in our lives in order to achieve it. Do you have a creative goal? It could be anything, big or small. The size of your goal will determine how much space you need to clear. It might be just a little bit to start with. It might be a lot. Either way: ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ (thanks, Ford). If you want to see a change in your creative habits, you’ll need to make some spatial adjustments.
We’re not asking you to give up the big stuff. The house, the day job—those things can stay. If you think of the inside of your house, those big things are like the furniture. They’re important, comfortable, and functional (and besides, they’re really hard to move). But what about all the small stuff? The ornaments, and the clutter? That stuff can be moved around pretty easily. Just like a good spring clean gives you more space in your house, spring cleaning your life gives you more space to be creative. Here are a few things we reckon you can chuck.
As kids we were fearless. We were natural risk-takers, ready to give anything a go. But somehow as we got older, we learnt to fear failure and stopped taking creative risks. Now, as adults, we’re wired to seek comfort and avoid situations where we feel threatened. We retreat to our comfort zones, which are stress-free, familiar, and safe. A comfort zone is a nice place to be, but it becomes dangerous when we spend too much time there. When we become too comfortable, we stop challenging ourselves to try new things, and this inhibits our learning and growth. Ask yourself which you would rather: the pain of growth, or the pain of staying still?
Imagine a set of scales, with Perfection on one side and Progress on the other. When you raise Perfection too high, refusing to move on with your work until every detail is flawless, Progress gets weighed down and suffers as a result. On the other hand, if you focus entirely on Progress, racing through your projects with little consideration of the end result, Perfection suffers. So how do we find that sweet spot between the two extremes? While perfectionism has its perks, it can immobilise us in our creative process. It’s important to recognise that our art is never perfect (what is perfect, anyway?), it is just that: art. If we are constantly doubting ourselves and crippling our creative process with our desire to be perfect, we won’t be able to progress toward our goals.
It’s nice to stay looped in with what other creatives are doing in their spare time. Social media offers us an outlet to keep up with creative trends, learn new skills, and build each other up in our creative pursuits. But sometimes we can get out of balance and spend too much time watching other people pursue their creative talents, when we could be using that time to be creative ourselves! As Roosevelt famously said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. There’s a fine line between inspiration, admiration, and comparison. It’s great to be inspired by other creatives, but if we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others we will never find satisfaction in our own practice. Let them do them. You do you.