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One common misconception about creativity is that it just happens, coming down upon you as a brief instant of illumination, a lightning bolt of ideas. But the truth couldn’t be farther away.
Artistic creativity, inspiration, ideas are more like a product of work, routine and consumption. It’s a lifelong process.
When we talk about artistic creativity we talk about something that generates surprise or excitement within us and the result of these feelings is a reconfiguration of the way we perceive existence, of our worldview.
Can an individual be creative? Can he challenge us to change our worldview? Yes. Can a group of people be more creative than an individual? Maybe yes, not necessarily. Can someone be creative and also be considered a boring person? Yes, yes, yes.
Why is this? Well, creativity is not a permanent state, but the result of an ongoing and sustained work process. And that, looked at from the outside, can be boring even for the individual we’re talking about.
A lot of determined, repetitive and boooooring work. None of the greatest artists or scientists were shooting stars, they put in thousands of hours of work and routine.
Picasso is said to have painted more than 50.000 paintings during his lifetime, but how many of them do you know or can recognize? Some of them are even lost, but his famous masterpieces from his different artistic periods are the result of his enormous work volume.
Charles Darwin studied tens of thousands of animal and vegetal species before he finally wrote his famous and worldview changing treaty, On the Origin of Species. And this took 20 years of his life. Do you think it was exciting all the time? I can bet it was nerve wracking, sickness inducing and, from time to time, exhilarating. Have a look at some “before-after” portraits of Darwin and you can imagine the amount of stressful routine and challenges he must have gone through.
Is this bad news for you? It shouldn’t. The fact that creativity or spectacular results can be achieved through boring routine and huge amounts of work actually means that it’s a repeatable achievement. You don’t have to wait for a click in your head or for the planets to align. Also, you don’t risk losing the moment of illumination. That moment can be created and recreated all through your life. A creative person is a hard working person.
Get a day job and create in your spare time. While some look at this approach as being time consuming and frustrating for creative people, it’s actually a pretty good strategy which helps you stay financially afloat or support your family and expenses.
Maybe you’re no heir to some huge fortune and maybe you didn’t find success and recognition at an early age. Maybe you’re an immigrant struggling to rebuild his life in a new and challenging environment, maybe you’re a student still grasping to connect with the right people and start the life you prepared for all those years.
Having a day job not only puts food on your table but also helps you keep your mind off your financial status. You have a regular job that pays. And then you have your free time to create and build yourself up until you won’t have to keep your regular job anymore.
Again, we’re referring to history to extract some valuable and encouraging examples.
Hemingway was a reporter in Kansas City. Andy Warhol worked for a magazine and Salman Rushdie was a copywriter for an advertising agency in New York.
“Boring” jobs are props for your creativity.
Think about this as an ongoing and never ending project. It is your becoming as a creative artist, your maturing process. Your achievements will be your milestones, your conquered peaks. And your creative ruts, burnouts and blocks will be your stops, detours and valleys.
Your art and creative path will never be complete. Each day brings another opportunity for you to commit to this process once more.
If you need motivation, think about the results you can achieve through your hard work and perseverance.
If you feel the need to be validated at least once in a while, think about the numerous artists, creators and scientists who only received recognition at the completion of an important stage of their career. You might have to wait some time before you will be validated as well.
Are you a genius? Maybe not, but you can be an innovative creator.
Are your social media stats negative and kind of disappointing? Not relying on this type of validation for your work can be totally refreshing, you should try it. Definitely try it.
Are you afraid of failure? Then you already gave up.