”Written byChristian Staines
“A severe lack of positive novel experiences has been
slowly starving our motivation receptors of the good stuff.”
Essentially, I want this to be an article that speaks to the creative drive within each of us. We are in the midst of a third lockdown and our patience is wearing thin. It feels like everything is imploding all around us and we are worried that we might be next. Inspiration is at an all-time low and we’re all wondering how we will stay afloat mentally, financially, and creatively.
Basically, my thought process went like this: God it’s tough to find inspiration right now when everything is looking quite shit. It’s stormy, it’s cold, there’s no booze, it’s lockdown vol. 3, and now there’s fucking riots. It’s so hard to not talk about all these horrible things and instead talk about creativity and finding pleasure/passion. So why not address these thoughts directly?
Talk about maintaining focus on your passions during a pandemic. Talk about the struggles of procrastination and creative block while you are stuck at home. Talk about pushing ourselves to create the things we believe only we could create. It’s difficult to knuckle down and try to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel, so why don’t we help each other out by striking a match and trying to find a way through this together.
Looking around you today, it’s hard not to get unnerved by the state of things. With lockdowns, curfews, riots, and another bloody prohibition, finding sources of pure inspiration have become few and far between. Some of you might actually be thriving amidst all this disorder (perhaps it has sparked a sort of nihilistic creativity within you, in which case, well done for channelling the chaos), but if you’re like the rest of us then things haven’t been so easy on the old creative tank. A severe lack of positive novel experiences has been slowly starving our motivation receptors of the good stuff.
So how the hell are you supposed to turn your attention away from the infinite feed and instead point it towards matters of greater purpose and productivity?
Short answer: I don’t know.
I don’t know because I probably don’t know you. I don’t know when you’re most in your element, I don’t know how you plan out each day, and I definitely don’t know what it is you want to do with your life. Only you know these things. So, if you’re going to start anywhere, your own head is no doubt a good place to begin.
“A lot of the time, it’s the first 30 seconds of an action that decides what you are going to be doing for the next hour“
You need to devise a personal science of one. Take a drive, call up a friend, drink 15 cups of coffee, do whatever you think might work to get your head in the right sort of space to access all of that pent up creative talent. But also recognize the things that inhibit this flow. A lot of the time, it’s the first 30 seconds of an action that decides what you are going to be doing for the next hour – picking up your phone, for example. We live in minds we do not fully understand, but one doesn’t have to understand the machine to know when fireworks are going off. It just takes a bit of experimentation and self-observation.
Now maybe you decide to go for a walk in the forests of your mind looking for a fresh new idea. Something that will catch people’s gaze and have them go ‘damn, that’s pretty cool’. But let’s be real, those kinds of ideas are relatively impossible to come by. Each time you think you’ve actually got one, it’s really just floating up above in the ether laughing at you. But even when you do manage to grab one, it’s not fully formed anyway. You usually have to fan the embers for a while before it actually grows into something viable. And a lot of the time, they go nowhere. And other times, for no apparent reason, they take off. The main point is this: a surprising amount of creativity is letting go of ideas that won’t work in place of ideas that you hope might work better.
Now let’s say you’ve caught one of these brand-spanking-new, hot ideas. What’s next? How do you turn it from a thought into a plan? In the words of my high school design teacher: “Steal, but improve.” Look into what other people have made and how they made it. Firstly, this will grant you a half-decent overview of what has come before, you will not only know a bit more about the craft but will also be given a chance to plageri- I mean borrow a few tricks from the great.
This next point is something I touched on in a previous post but want to reiterate here:
You – as the observer and consumer of other people’s art – only ever get to see the end result of their hard work. And the same goes for you and your hard work.
Think of your favourite movie. For you, the person watching, it’s easy to overlook the process that went into creating such a masterpiece. The retakes, the scene changes, the many things you don’t see. On top of all that, what is often not talked about is this massive period of time before the film is made, where the directors and scriptwriters have no idea what the fuck they are going to do with the idea. And because it’s such a perfect movie, you kind of just believe it must have made itself or that they filmed it in a few weeks and then it was done.
But in reality, great work takes years to bake sometimes. And great artists generally don’t have much interest in bragging afterwards about how much preparation went into the cake itself. There is usually a long process that goes into producing something of worth or value. Whether it’s perfecting a small detail, building up a reputation, or just managing to catch an idea in the first place.
Others only ever see the end result, and because of this a great deal of the work put in is often not appreciated as much as it should be. The only person that can actually stand there and appreciate the whole process from start to finish is you. And it is for this reason that you have to love the process as much as you love the end result.
“Others only ever see the end result, and because of this a great deal of the work put in is often not appreciated as much as it should be. The only person that can actually stand there and appreciate the whole process from start to finish is you. And it is for this reason that you have to love the process as much as you love the end result.”
So if you’re lucky enough to have such a passion then the work won’t feel like work. We’ve all met people who didn’t follow their ambitions and subsequently regretted it forever. Obviously, there are plenty of starving artists out there (now more than ever), so I’m not saying sell all your worldly possessions and start painting Parisian impressionist artworks with a brush between your toes™. Rather, what I want to say is this: if you think you might be a creative at heart and making stuff makes you happy – or worse, not making stuff makes you unhappy – then why not?
I know things are pretty tough right now, and it’s hard to imagine what life will be like after all this. But I guarantee, when we look back, it will probably seem amazing that we used to live like this. So go out and roll around in the mud of your subconscious until you find that fantastic idea and then stick at it. And refine mercilessly.
“Alongside the picnic days of life, many of us are predisposed to angst, despair, to trying to ignore what looks like a hole in the bottom of everything. But I would like to put it to you, if I may: That in arting, in trying to make a new thing, in trying to say something true about the weird experiment we are running down here, it is possible to collect up some of the angst and the despair, and the fear, and externalize them.”
“I believe that is probably the main function of art: to lie as truthfully as possible, and to try and capture some aspects of the condition that we are all suffering with, but haven’t addressed together yet.”
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If you’re looking for some great sources to inspire you, to relate to, or just to entertain you, then follow these links to some of the content that helped me write this article.
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