Tips to help the Creative Psyche

HWB Producer Forum Member/Moderator Colin Cameron Allrich  recently posted 5 tips that he has found to help the Creative Psyche from being in the Creative Industry for many years. Big thanks to Colin for permission to repost this on the blog!

Having done a fair bit of mentoring/teaching over the years, there are some reoccurring themes I’ve discussed that I’ll share here. Now, please don’t take this as I consider myself to be ‘all-knowing’ or a ‘master’ of creativity, but I do know these are true for me from the almost two decades I’ve been at it – and learning/being conscious of them has greatly helped my creative psyche and mental health. It might not be news to you, but for those who need it, here:

1. The idea of constant, i.e. endless, creative output is a big fat lie. There is nothing worse for your mental health as a creative artist to believe you MUST be consistently putting out work. Don’t believe the hype or perception given by social media or wherever that all us creatives are all spilling this endless flow of creativity day after day. “Refill the cup”. Be OK with down time. Be OK with breaks. Recharge with consuming art/movies/books/nature/cooking/etc. Pressurizing yourself to meet some unobtainable idealistic schedule of work will only cause you to buckle. And it will take your mental health with it. Be OK with yourself enough to realize when you need to refill… which leads to…

2. Don’t get trapped in the “am I good enough?” rut. Instead of letting your mind enter into a feedback-loop of self deprecation and/or fear of failure upon completion of a work – be in love with the creative process instead. Screw the end result, it’s going to be abandoned away right? There’s no “perfect” for us. Get lost in the work itself, feed your self expression above all else. Wether it’s “good” or “bad” is arbitrary, your job isn’t to anticipate the audience. Even the creatives you see doing what’s considered stellar, ground breaking, or amazing work critically, know that behind the scenes they second guessed it, maybe even flirted with giving up on it. They might even think their work you love, that was critically praised, is their worst output… Again, it’s completely arbitrary to the creative process. Don’t let commodity drive the work, unless you’re working in advertising it truly does not need to come first.

3. Keep learning. Stagnation happens to everyone as we get comfortable in our creativity. Habits get formed, tried and true processes get leaned on time after time… Even coddling from fans and friends can lead to a belief that any change or deviation from the current path means you’ll loose support. Don’t let the audience put you on a pedestal. Learn to detach from that. As David Bowie said, “don’t play to the gallery, don’t get comfortable. Get out into the deep end, where your feet don’t touch the bottom, there you are in the right place to do something exciting.”

4. Stop looking at others output as a barometer for your work. Sure, we idolize what we love, as it shaped us enough to put us in the chair to want to do it too. But that needs to stop at some point as you’re growing into yourself as a creative. If you are close to bridging The Gap (see: Ira Glass’ “The Gap”) between having the experience to do ‘professional’ work and the wet-behind-the-ears amateur you were, then tune out the noise from your creative peers around you. Your work is your own and no one else’s. A great way to feel like a failure is to look at a peer as “better than”, having that “grass is greener” ideal, because later you might learn they feel the same about your work! I’m not saying you shouldn’t collaborate, if you have someone you trust creatively to work with, then bang on! Share techniques, have discussions on creative practices, keep the focus on pushing each other to do great work instead of letting ego and pride ruin it.

5. Don’t fit yourself into a box or genre because maybe it has better commodity, or is popular. Let the audience do that. All the art you love that started a trend did so by bucking a trend originally. Steal from all the shit that made you who you are. Be exploitive when you feel like it, and learn something new about yourself while you try it. As Jim Jarmusch said: “authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.”

Taken from this youtube vid: The Gap by Ira Glass