10 Steps Guaranteed To Unlock Your Full Creative Potential

Carli Jeen
Carli Jeen

1. Set Goals

Writing down your goals is the first step in achieving them. It has been proven that people who record their goals have a greater chance of achieving them than those who don’t.

As the motivational speaker Tony Robbins has said, “If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.”

Just as you should write down your goals for yourselves, announcing your plans to friends and family, e.g., on social media, gets you into the feeling that you cannot let people down. It doesn’t matter what you want to create, tell everyone about it and get creating!

It will make you feel like you have something to deliver to them.

Announcing your plans solidifies them and makes them concrete.

2. Start Anywhere

Taking a blank page, raw materials, picking up an instrument, and finding a starting point is what stumps many a potentially creative person. They start their project but quickly run out of steam and come to a halt, not knowing how to progress.

Beginning a project is daunting and the end can seem far away. So why not start at the end? Or the middle? If you’re thinking of writing a song, rather than start with your intro, why not write the chorus first, or the last verse?

If you’re thinking of writing a novel, rather than start by writing ‘Chapter 1’ on the top of your blank page, try writing ‘Epilogue’ instead.

Remember, creativity is a process. It is a series of actions that result in an end. Or a middle or a beginning.

3. Schedule

If you want to know where and when you should work, ultimately that’s up to you. Just remember to be consistent in your schedule.

Routine is important because art requires dedication and persistence.

It is a common misconception that creativity happens as an “Eureka!” moment and that the artist is suddenly struck by inspiration and produces a finished masterpiece. Waiting for inspiration will do you no good, you have to get to work regardless of whether you’re inspired or not.

Life will always get in the way. Life can be distracting, but that’s just the way it is. Rather than complain about the distractions from work commitments, family, children, chores, etc., try identifying your non-essential time, i.e., the time you waste.

So don’t sit around writing for inspiration – knowing you have to work can be inspiration in itself.

4. Take Note

Notebooks are a great way to capture your ideas on the move and when you least expect them. Trying to store ideas in your memory will lead to problems. Your memory can fade, but writing doesn’t.

An idea can strike at the oddest and most inconvenient of times, so mark it by recording it.

Writing in your notebook regularly will leave you with a collection and wealth of ideas of which, some will be great and others won’t. Eventually, you’ll have collection of seeds and a thread of ideas that you can cultivate into anything of your choosing.

Your notebooks or sketchbooks will become a storage farm of your ideas. Your ideas have to be nurtured. Your ideas don’t need to be fancy, or neat and tidy, they just need to exist.

5. Restrict Yourself

Have you ever tried to begin a project and were so overwhelmed by the amount of tools, ideas and resources at your disposal that you just gave up?

Ideas and tools are simple. Trying to attach and combine too many of them at the same time is dangerous. They can clutter the thought process. There are many possibilities in art, but having too many to choose from can lead to problems. Remember, it’s not your tools or ideas that are important, it’s how you use them. Try limiting yourself to just a few.

Try creating a work of art everyday for a week, a month or a year, and share it with the world. Constantly having to create something new will allow you to get into the practice of constraining both your time, tools and your judgemental thought. Constraining yourself will help you focus your attention.

6. Make Mistakes

Mistakes and errors are a part of the creative process. Difficulties and frustration are just a natural part of creating a work of art. No work was created perfectly in one draft.

We do though, as in all aspects of our life, tend to learn from mistakes, knowing how to handle the situation differently the next time the same problem occurs. It’s how you learn from your mistakes, not the mistakes themselves, that matters.

However, don’t be afraid of making mistakes and don’t reject them entirely. You may find that something you didn’t intend to do works better than what you originally had in mind. Why not try creating something intentionally bad?

Write a terrible poem, make an object that doesn’t serve its purpose, write a song that sucks. You can be guaranteed that your next effort will be many times better! Off-days and bad works are part of the process. Don’t let them get you down. Embrace them.

7. Just Do It

Naturally, we won’t always want to work, even if we enjoy what we do.

Frustration, disappointment and boredom are all part of the creative process. With practice, it becomes easier, and you’ll eventually find that once you start you won’t want to stop!

You have to be determined to do something rather just wanting to do something. Just wanting to do something results in nothing.

You just have to do it.

Finding even just a few minutes a day to create or sketch or jot down ideas is better than going to bed at night and regretting that you didn’t do anything that day to get your work off the ground, let alone finish it. Talking about doing work won’t achieve anything, neither will dreaming about. Action is required to produce.

8. Ask Questions

A major part and requirement of being an artist is asking questions.

Asking questions about the works of others and of your own work means you are aware of art in a critical sense. Asking questions helps you to develop as an artist.

Try reading the first page from a book that you haven’t read before and imagine how the story continues. Then, carry on reading and question why the author did it his way rather than yours. You can try this with music, film, products, etc.

Ask yourself from time to time why you are making the decisions you are making and if there is more than one answer to your question. Question the work of others. Why did the maker create it this way, what were his or her intentions and did they succeed in their task?

Question its purpose, look or sound. Ask yourself what’s missing in the world and fill that void with your own work.

9. Don’t Obsess

Sometimes, you can get so wrapped up the details of your work and in trying to make it perfect, that you lose sight of the original vision and prevent yourself from finishing the piece.

If you find yourself struggling to finish, ask yourself if there is anything more that that particular work needs.

If you can no longer add to or take anything away from your work, it may be time to declare it finished. Perfection is mostly about completion.

Being the best shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be getting better at what you already do. Make art, but sometimes you’ll have to accept that it may be out of your control.

10. Believe

If you don’t believe in your work, how can you expect others to?

Every great artist doubts themselves from time to time, but the only way to remedy this is to keep on going. If you constantly give up on your work and yourself, you will fall into the habit of giving up. And giving up often means that you won’t acquire the skills needed to finish your work.

There will be many times along your creative route where will you doubt what you are doing, and this is natural, because creativity is a process. Creativity is about joining the dots, (albeit very slowly and arduously at times).

People have art that they both like and dislike, but what should matter to you as an artist is that you are happy with your own work. Opinions are subjective.

After finishing a work, step away from it for a while, put it in a drawer or somewhere you can’t see, feel or hear it. Revisit it a week or two later and you’ll find you’ll be less attached to it and more able to judge it for the work that it is from a more objective viewpoint. You will be able to give it a more honest assessment.

Don’t compare yourself to other people, make work that you like. Be confident in all that you create. Your work is unique to you. After all, it was you who made it. TC mark

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