It’s the end of the year; the perfect time to feel bad about how much you’ve gotten done this past year. Trust me, you’re not alone. But let’s stop sobbing about it and think about how we might do things a little better in 2017. A few months ago I set some guidelines for myself, to ensure I’d keep up the creative work. So far they’ve really been helping me stay on top of things. So I figured I’d share them with you guys. This way, if someone asks you about your New Year’s resolutions you don’t have to fake an answer and feel bad about yourself, you’ll actually have 10 of them.
More sleep, less time in bed
If there’s anything that kills your creativity, it’s a lack of energy. I used to stay up late (mostly to make up for the fact that I had been bumming around all day), and as a consequence I didn’t get out of bed before 11. Since I’ve started going to bed at a more decent time and setting an (relatively) early alarm, I feel a lot more energetic. I also try not to stay in bed too long after I’ve woken up. I would love to tell you that the morning is a magical time of the day, and that you wake up to the smell of fresh croissants and the sound of you neighbor’s soft, enchanting singing voice in the distance. But we don’t live in a Disney movie, and often the mornings are slow, grey and annoying. Altogether I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m a morning person, but the mornings have turned out to be a surprisingly productive part of the day for me.
More arty music, less party music
Of course it’s important to let loose every now and then. Everyone needs a break from work, so go on, step away from the laptop and have a little twerking session to your favourite Beyoncé song (gotta make sure you’re not getting rusty right). Just remember, however satisfying this might feel, it’s not very likely to spark your artistic qualities that much. To help you get into the (more creative) zone, I’d suggest to steer clear of top 40 and listen to music that has a bit more depth to it. Don’t be afraid to get a little emo, let’s play the tortured artist for a bit and see where it takes you. Low lighting and the sound of rain against your window are a plus. No clue what to listen to? My go-to bands for mind drifting are Dry the River, Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens. There’s also these “focus” playlists on Spotify, that can be true lifesavers. If you’re as easily distracted as me, and find yourself categorizing your cat stickers instead of doing your work, these might really help to stay focussed. When I’m doing creatively dead work, like repetative photoshopping, I tend to listen to podcasts to make my life seem a little less empty. If you have a pet to talk to, that’d be even better. Nothing beats a little heartfelt conversation with a furry friend.
More conversation, less Emoijs
Trust me, I know Emoijs can say more than a thousand words ever could. They’re great. You can get away with saying just about anything as long as it’s followed by the cheeky little dancing lady. But what I’ve been trying to do lately, is having a few more real-life conversations with friends, rather than talking on WhatsApp all the time. Just meet up, add some candlelight, good tunes and a few beers. You’ll be having a profound, deep conversation before you know it. I also try to talk about my work more with the people I know, and discuss wether how I interpretate my work matches what someone else sees when they look at a project. It’s a scary thing, but at the end of the day you’re not just doing creative work to hush your own inner self. Ultimately It’d be nice if others could relate with it as well. An outside perspective can also be really helpful when you feel like you’re getting a little stuck on a project. After you’ve finished all the beers and said your goodbyes please do add a few Emoijs to your goodnight-text in order to restore the balance, preferably the suspicious little dark moon. Oh and some hearts, we all need a little love don’t we.
More coffee, less beer
I’ve spend some years working at a bar to support myself throughout and after art school. I (very) quickly learned to love beer. Beer is like a good friend, but sometimes it’s wise to set some boundaries within this friendship. One beer quickly turns into five, and chances are, you’re not going to go back to finishing your work that night, like you promised yourself you would. What’s more, you’re not that likely to jump out of bed ready to take on the world and get shit done the next morning either. So maybe cut down some, leave the beers for those special nights with friends (and the deep conversations) and get through your day with a few coffees. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a great attention span or energy level, so I take frequent coffee breaks. I don’t actually own a coffee machine, so I go out and get some (coffee). This way I’m outside for a few minutes, which takes my mind off of what I was working on. When I get home I get back to work with a clear mind and my fingers pleasantly wrapped around a warm cup of optimism.
More arthouse, less tv
If you’re doing creative work, you need to surround yourself with things that trigger your imagination a little. Although I love watching TV, it’s not likely to be very inspiring. But there’s a lot of inspiring stuff out there, ready to broaden your mind, you just have to go find it. There’s some good titles in Netflix’ arthouse section, and there’s plenty of lists of great arthouse films out there on the internet. I also spend a lot of time watching documentaries on philosophy and art. I know it makes me sound like a bit of a pretentious hipster, but it definitely beats reading complicated books on the subject. I mean, you can actually get smarter whilst sitting on the couch eating cake and looking at a screen. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, I don’t know what will. Maybe two cakes.
Come on, you’re trying to make it in the creative industry! That’s not easy, you and your creative soul deserve a treat! A bunch of them! You’re a hero! Also, a sugar rush might give you that extra kick you need to get on with it. Besides, those little sprinkles might be the closest thing we have to fairy dust in this gloomy world.
More reading, less scrolling
A big part of thinking creatively, is the ability to see things from different perspectives. Books are a great way to enter a different world. Often you’re given a look into someone else world, and it’s up to you to imagine how things look around there. There’s also some great books out there on different visual languages (with images!) that could be really inspiring. Apart from the knowledge you’re going to gain, it’s also a good mindstate to put yourself in every now and then. Put away the phone, make some tea, borrow someone’s cat and grab a book. It’ll calm you down and a calm mind is a creative mind. What’s also nice about books is that they tend to go a lot deeper into something than any other medium can. Getting lost in something can be really inspiring.
More walks, less shortcuts
Okay, so this is the third time I’m going to mention that I don’t have a long attention span. I really don’t. I could maybe work for 3 hours straight at the most. So I need breaks often. Breaks are great, but If you’re working on something that requires your full creative abilities you don’t want to risk totally killing your vibe by shifting your attention to something stupid. I like to take a walk when I feel worn out, and when I come back I’ll usually have new energy to start things back up. Especially after dinner I’ll have trouble getting myself to do anything. I’m aware that the fact that I like to take walks after dinner is making me sound like an old lady, but it really does help. I like to combine this resolution with some of the previous ones. I’ll get a coffee to go, listen to some of my favourite music, and just walk in any direction I feel like going. It’ll empty your mind a little, making more room for magic.
More art galleries, less shopping malls
Although it’s nice to believe that we come up with ideas solely thanks to our own great minds, that’s far from true. Nothing comes from nowhere, inspiration comes from all kinds of places. But if there’s one place that you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel inspired, it’s an art museum or gallery. Seeing what other artists are doing or have done before you can jump start new ideas. Rather than scrolling past images, you’re more likely to take time looking at something there. Didn’t find anything inspiring? It might still help. You could leave more determined to show the world what real great work looks like. Admission to get into a museum is also a lot cheaper than a new pair of shoes. So that’s a plus.
More sketchbook, less Macbook
I love computers as much as you, believe me, they’re great little machines and I spend most of my time working on my Mac. But trust me, don’t underestimate the power of the good ol’ paper and a pencil either. I try (and fail too often), to always take my sketchbook with me wherever I go. When my mind drifts off and I’ll start getting idea’s I’ll be able to sketch them out right away. This way you’ll instantly see wether what’s in your head would actually work visually or not, which is a great place to start evolving your idea from. It’ll also enable you to store your idea’s somewhere, they’re right there on paper, so you can always come back to them. I’ve mentioned before how some of these resolutions work great together; sketching and walking however, not a great combination.
Be safe and a happy 2017 everyone!