After last week’s feature of urban style and gritty texture, Josh Holland gave us lots to think about in regards to his work and how our efforts relate to others. If you missed this interview, I highly recommend you check it out. Today I’d like to elaborate on a point Josh made that really hits home with our success as artists.
“I think it is vital in any art form, and any career for that matter, to keep things in perspective and never let yourself get comfortable or complacent. That is the death of creativity and keeps you from reaching your true potential with anything. Continue to grow, learn and interact with other individuals as much as possible, both of like minds and those with contrary views as well.”
Some Thoughts on Complacency
1. The Break
It is nice to take a break from things every once in a while – it’s healthy, but if you stand still for too long, you will eventually get hit by the people rushing by and fall on your face, unable to recover and left in the dust for dead. No one will hire you because your stagnant skills are no longer relevant. No one will want to associate with you because they know that hanging out with people who will inspire them to greater heights is more beneficial than feeling sorry for the lazy has-been who can no longer adapt.
2. The Rhythm
As you become accustomed to a rhythm in your technique, your learning slows because of muscle memory. Things become easier and you are almost mindless in your task; you are in your element. This is great if you are performing, but not if you are attempting to improve. In workout programs, this phenomenon is called plateauing. The bodybuilder solution is to break up your routine so your body doesn’t know what to anticipate next, forcing it to adapt with every set of reps and giving you what is necessary to rise above the plateau. This is what you must do with your brain. Break the patterns and shatter complacency.
The Paradox and Its Parts
What Is the Paradox of a Creative Process?
Simply put, a creative process is paradoxical because by its very nature a process suggests a pattern, and patterns disrupt creativity because they promote complacency.
Why Does This Matter?
This routine can become dangerous and must be dealt with. Despite all of the effort on this site to explain the process the truth is, if you aren’t careful, the creative process will eventually stifle your creativity if you blindly follow it. Once you master your process, you must recreate yourself with a new process, and then another, and another. Then you can juggle them back and forth and force a constant adaptation which leaves your brain nimble and ready for anything.
Never settle for where you are because most of the time you get what you expect of yourself; nothing more. If you push yourself to higher challenges and endure the pain of change, you will achieve higher things.
How to Rise Above the Paradoxical Creative Process
Here’s What to Do
1. Take Stock of the Situation
Determine whether or not it’s time to change. There is no way to tell you when you should do this; you know yourself better than anyone else and only you can intuit when it is time to break up the routine. Also determine how much and what you need to change.
2. Make the Commitment to Change the Routine
This isn’t just a mental thing. You must physically do something different. If you Mind Map, try listing your thoughts as a precursor. Change the location from where you normally concept. These don’t even have to be big changes.
3. Critique the Results
Look back and see what could have been done better. The primary goal is improvement in your creativity, but you also don’t want to sacrifice a streamlined approach to getting results and lose the essence of your technique; just shake things up a bit. Besides, the goal is not to end up wasting more billable hours on something that could have taken a substantially less amount of time.
An Inside Scoop to the Mind
Let’s conclude with some brain talk. Your brain is incredibly adaptive. It loves repetition and routine and uses these devices to determine important things to store away, but this results in a struggle between the mind and creativity, as we’ve pointed out. If you don’t break your patterns and recreate yourself from time to time, you will experience creative slumps and become frustrated with yourself because your mind will get in its element for retaining information. It’s okay to take breaks and enjoy the rhythm of the process, but don’t wait around too long; you will become complacent.
If you are looking for a resource to tackle some adaptation, sign up for the free course on the Creative Process. It actually covers a few different processes and how you can pick and choose bits from each one in order to get the process that’s right for you. Click here to get started.
So tell me your thoughts on this. Do you believe a creative process can get to the point of hindering you? How else do you combat creative slumps? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.