The Focus Course

Don’t Wait to Create

Part of being human is creating.

Whether or not you see yourself as the creative type is not dependent on a certain expression of creativity. Any area or project in which you have the ability to impose your opinion is a form of creativity.

Exercising your choice is a form of creativity.

Humans have been creating for as long as we’ve been around. The art forms have varied through the centuries to be sure, but there is creative opportunity anywhere you look.

While we often think of creators as those that fill up art galleries, the artifacts of creativity are all around us. The chair you’re sitting in is the work of a creative. The clothes you are wearing is the work of a designer. The book you’re reading is the work of an author. The coffee you’re drinking is the work of a roaster. The table you share meals at is the work of a furniture maker. All of these required the maker to be creative to get the details just right.

And while you may not have a desire to make furniture or become a fashion designer, I’m sure there is a creative endeavor waiting to be unleashed. Whether that be a backyard garden or a nifty budgeting spreadsheet.

What creative pursuit have you been waiting to unfurl?

What’s Holding You Back?

Given the access to resources in today’s global society, it would seem our propensity toward creating would be higher. In some senses, humans are creating more than ever before. But it is also easier than ever to be a passive observer of what everyone else is making.

A quick Google search will yield DIY instructions for just about any project you could possibly imagine. It’s not for lack of access to knowledge that we’re limited in our creating. And due to globalization, the resources to create have never been more readily available.

The smartphone is the perfect example. You can film, edit, and share a high definition video all on your iPhone. It’s remarkable. And tens of millions walk around with an iPhone in their pocket every day.

If it’s not for a lack of know how or tools that we stall in our making, what then? Is it a lack of time? Or maybe a lack of inspiration?

I think a far more likely reason we fail to create is the ultimate nemesis of creativity, perfectionism.

Perfectionism says it won’t be as good as such and such’s, so why even try? Perfectionism tells us we’ll probably make mistakes along the way. So why dare to start? Perfectionism says it probably won’t turn out the way you envisioned, so it would be a complete waste of time. Perfectionism tells you that unless you make a flawless masterpiece in your first attempt, it’s not worth creating.

Perfectionism is a big fat liar.

Accomplishing a goal is a lot less like taking a train across the country and a lot more like driving a bumper car. — Jon Acuff, Finish

Creative Process

All creative endeavors are a series of steps. While the process may look similar to other projects we’ve undertaken, no two are exactly the same.

Process would imply unfinished.

No creative endeavor goes from idea to finished in a single keystroke. The in-between phase of a thought of brilliance and a finished masterpiece requires perseverance.

“People who take on complicated creative projects become lost at some point in the process. It is the nature of things—in order to create, you must internalize and almost become the project for a while, and that near-fusing with the project is an essential part of its emergence.” — Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

Hardly ever does a creative project have clear signposts of progress. The path is unclear, shrouded in ambiguity. Your glimpse of inspiration gave you a heading but failed to give step-by-step instructions. And that’s okay. Each creative process is a journey that requires a willingness to keep showing up and not give up.

There will be mishaps and wrong turns, sometimes resulting in a new vision being born. But it’s more likely these mishaps show us what not to do, which is helpful in its own right.

Where to start?

So what have you been waiting to create? What does it look like finished?

The finished version of what you aspire to make involves a lot of different steps, and there’s no clear predefined order.

The first step could be research. It could be seeking out someone that is skilled and learning a few best practices.

Whatever the first step is for you, it will only happen if you decide to take action. The best first step is the one you decide to take.

  • Decide when you’ll spend time on it (and put it on your calendar).
  • Choose where (the exact location) you’ll work on it.
  • Follow through with your commitment to yourself.

Repeat these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating something to be proud of.

* * *

The accusation of perfectionism is paralyzing, and it’s often a fight to ignore all the reasons perfectionism thinks this project shouldn’t exist. But, you have creative ideas waiting to happen that are worthy of seeing the light of day. There’s a good chance they won’t be perfect on the first try, and that makes you human.

So I’ll leave you with this. Give yourself permission to discover and learn through your creative process. Whatever your creative canvas, a student posture will serve you well. Our pride will lead us back to perfectionism. If we can maintain a posture of curiosity and humility in our creating, we’ll not only learn more but have more fun along the way.

Further Reading

Here are two excellent books on creative process and overcoming perfectionism:

Hero image by Benjamin Thomas via Unsplash.

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