Unblocking: Tips On Creating Productively
Art is hard. Anyone who has tried to make art their profession, or even just a priority in their life, knows that. It’s a messy, difficult process that’s different for everyone. And if you’re just beginning your artistic journey, whether it’s the journey of a wordsmith or a master artist (or maybe both!), it can sometimes be difficult to figure out how best to organize yourself to reach your full potential and be as productive as you want to be. So I’ve compiled some tips here that will hopefully help you reach your full artistic potential.
- Create a workspace: This one has always made a huge difference for me. I really like to pretend that I can get writing done while I sit on the couch. Unfortunately, I also play video games and watch TV on the couch, which makes my brain think of the couch as play space. So now, every time I get ready to write, I go sit down at my desk. Even though it’s only three feet away form the couch, my brain registers it as a different space and starts working in a very different way than when I’m trying to work in a space I use for play or rest, like my couch or my bed. However, your workspace doesn’t need to be a desk. Maybe you work better at a coffee shop or in a library or you feel super productive when you work at the kitchen table. As long as you work in a space that’s removed from your usual distractions, it’ll work as a workspace.
- Stay organized: A lot of creatives are… messier than the average person. Sometimes it’s just because we’re too busy thinking about our ideas. Sometimes it’s because we struggle with mental illness and cleaning is low on our list of priorities. Sometimes it’s just because we’re lazy. Whatever the reason is, it’s important that we make an effort to keep things organized, because all those people who talk about physical clutter cluttering up our thought processes are right. Having a clean space to create will work wonders, in large part because it simply gives you space to set down your laptop, tablet, or pen and paper.
- Find your people: Being an artist can be lonely, because it’s largely a solitary endeavor. But finding another group of artists to talk to, whether it’s online, at an art school, or just one person you really enjoy collaborating with, can make a big difference. Talking to other people about your struggles and successes in art feels good, and it’s also an excellent way to get new ideas or work out the kinks with ones you’re having trouble with. As a result, you might even learn new techniques or feel more challenged to grow as an artist. Finding people you can talk to and share with is integral for any artist.
- Try new things: It can be really easy to stagnate creatively. Maybe you just haven’t been writing often enough and your writing hasn’t been getting better recently. Maybe all the characters you draw are suffering from Same Face Syndrome. Maybe you just feel like you keep doing the same things over and over and you’re in a rut. This is a sign that maybe you need to do things differently. For writers, it could mean trying out a different genre or writing style. You could try copying the writing style of one of your favorite writers or maybe write a silly poem about making a chair. For artists, it might mean trying a different medium, like watercolor if you tend to work digitally, or drawing things you normally don’t. Trying something new can help you look at your usual work in a different way and will make you better at whatever you do.
- Prioritize your art: This is probably the most important advice I can give you. You have to make your art a priority. Treat it like a job. You have to put in your hours and your effort to get anything out of it. In order to be a better writer, you have to write. In order to be a better artist, you have to spend time making your art. If you don’t make the time to “clock in” and get those 500 words written for the day or practice drawing hands like you’ve been meaning to, you’re not going to get much done. I understand that life happens. I know how difficult it is to juggle work and school and creative pursuits while also trying to find time for chores, a social life, and leisure time. But if you want to make art, you actually have to sit down and make it
I’ll leave you with one last important piece of advice: do your best to make every day from now on a non-zero day, both in your life and your art. A Reddit user laid out his philosophy on “zero days” here (warning for swearing), but it basically boils down to this: every day you should be doing your best to take steps to achieve your goals. Even if it just means writing one sentence, or reading a blog post, or drawing one simple drawing. It all adds up.
What are your tips for being more productive with your art? Feel free to share in the comments!
— Serena and the Tapas Team