A lot of my creative thoughts come my way when I hardly expect them. That being said, I am realizing that there is also a pattern forming, an identifiable pattern when either creative thoughts will not be coming my way (ie. clouded brain, mistreating myself, partying to hard, ignoring physical activites) or, and more so, the environment of when these thoughts do rain down. I'm realizing that these moments can be cultivated by adding the right ingredients. So here it goes. My personal recipe. Take it or leave it. But, just so you know! It is the reason I believe I have a competitive edge.
1. Fall In Love With Other Types Of Art.
This is very important! One of my best kept secrets. One of the reasons other photographers in my hometown don't truly understand me. I remain very impressed by many photogs, but I truly admire and am in love with alternative artists and art forms. Check out my boy Sam Spratt, and Gary V. Two of my favorite creatives.
2. Keep a Schedule.
This one was tough as I did spend most of my past life living by one. As I jumped into the creative freelance world, I felt that I could release the shackles ofa strict schedule only to quickly realize that it's super important for the creative brain. No, I'm not talking about the typical 9-5 type of schedule. I'm talking about taking pictures everyday, doing some writing every morning, taking an after-lunch walk...or whatever works for you specifically. But hear this part! Although science can prove how helpful this is, I still struggle a lot to keep my to do's in order. I'm a believer in teux deux a fantastic new app that's my go to for staying on task.
Update: I no longer use "Teux Deux. My go to "To Do" app now is Wunderlist!!
Everyday I carve out 15-20 minutes of time to lay quietly: once when I wake up and also sometime in the evening before dinner. I practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), although I am not recommending a particular kind here. I'm just saying that the shit works. It's made the single biggest difference in my life, which in turn has fueled my creative side. And you know what? I was meditation's biggest skeptic! What does it really do? Meditation = Clarity. My ideas have become more clear that ever they've ever been. The world just seems to have slowed down. The chaos of the creative freelance world is easier to navigate. My thoughts have been set free, and I find it 100x times easier to flow. Here is a 10 minute guide that could get you on your way.
4. Make Shit Every Day.
Proven by lots of scientific study and just from my experience. When we make shit everyday- writing, painting, drawing, cooking, taking pictures, etc.- our cranium is pushed into new neural pathways. "Creativity Creates More Creativity". Do not underestimate this one.
This is one of my deep mantras. Intention is everything. Don't make it a hard thing. Daydream a bit. The point is not to execute every daydream. It's just to believe that you can be successful at what you choose to dream about.
6. Create for Creating's Sake.
Here are my modes. (Head in the clouds) Daydreaming, Coming up with ideas, Creating concepts, etc.
(Time in the dirt) Executing on ideas, concepts etc.
I don't spend a lot of time in the in-between mode as that's where the fear of what people may think, jealousy, comparisons and self doubt hang out. I often have to remind myself of why I took the huge risk to become an artist. It was to create. It was not to worry about all of the other shit going on. This is where I am judged most harshly by some of my peers. It's just that I have a lot of stuff to make!
7. Teach Yourself / Hack The Learning World.
It's no secret, but maybe you still didn't know. I taught myself everything I've learned. A lot of artists / people think that learning is a passive thing. It so isn't. It's an insanely active and easy way to gain that competitive edge.
8. Find Quiet.
When I am out in the world seeking inspiration and ideas, I certainly get them. There is no shortage of inspiration in my world, but before execution on these inspirations and ideas some serious things need to happen. This is where many people struggle: making an idea reality. For me it comes down to quality alone time. The calm after the storms of inspiration and ideas come through. It acts as an accelerant and incubator of sorts. It requires quiet. It's why some of our best ideas happen in the shower or at bedtime or for me, a lot of times, during sleep. Find time to shut the noisy world out. Trust me.