Dash of Creativity

Since “From Tub to Tweet in 1 hour 35 min 48 sec” I sent out 12 email newsletters, every Monday, with really tiny creative quotes, inspiration and ideas. Researching and writing these got challenging pretty quickly—faster than I expected. I noticed a lot of recurring messages albeit in slightly different forms. Rather than stretch this little newsletter out I’ve decided to pull each Dash together into a post highlighting these trends.

Nothing is Original

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”

David Bowie reminds us with this quote that nothing is original. Nothing comes from nowhere. In embracing influence we’re free from the burden of trying to be original. Go forward into this week without that burden, soak up that inspiration and rinse it over your work.

“One ought every day at least to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words”

The advice from Serlo, a theatre manager, in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship”. Appreciate then create.Passing Through

Passing Through

“You start out as a phoney and become real.”

Glenn O’Brien’s way of saying “Fake it till you make it”. Dress for the job you want, not the job you’re doing right now. If you call yourself a writer, designer, filmmaker, whatever, you will become that. People will recognise you as that. People will find you to do that work. It all starts with calling yourself just that.

“You can’t get to wonderful without passing through alright.”

A quote from Bill Withers. As a society we want instant results. Marketing campaigns are all spun around how quickly you can get fit; how quickly you can get a job; or even how quickly you can learn a skill. Remember though that everyone starts as a beginner. Those you look up to went through alright at one point — and to them perhaps they still are just that.

“Doing the work makes you better, so of course you’ll be dissatisfied with what you’ve already done. You’re better!”

This is a quote from Frank Chimero on The Great Discontent and I think it’s a great way of describing why you might feel unhappy about your own work. Perhaps rather than trying to love what you have created, you can aim to love what you will create.

Get Outside

“We don’t know where we get ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.”

A quote from John Cleese. If you’re sitting around looking for ideas, close your laptop and get outside. If you’re experiencing creative block do something about it. Change your surroundings and write or sketch with a pen and paper. It’ll help kick start your creative process.

“Motion creates emotion. Action creates clarity.”

Stimulating your body stimulates your mind. After all, they are sort of attached to each other. Gym, running, cycling, walking, yoga — whatever suits you will do. If you’re facing a design or work problem, try go for a walk. Without anything electrical that is, topping up your screen-glare chin-tan isn’t doing you any favours.

Time and Action

“You have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else who has ever created a masterpiece.”

Nearly all masterpieces share two things in common. Time and action. A masterpiece wont be created in an evening — so don’t try to, and don’t expect it to happen.

Just Begin

“The first draft is never your last draft, begin.”

Begin by doing just that. Creative barriers drop as you begin. Since your first draft isn’t your last you can do whatever it takes.

“Start then focus. Don’t wait for focus to strike before starting.”

If you wait till you feel focused before starting work you’ll rarely get started. Instead realise that you’ll become focused once you start. Like a camera — pick it up, aim, then focus — you’ve already begun before finding your focus.

“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”

A quote from Meredith Willson. There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t take action and do something today. Spending today doing what, deep down, you know you need to be doing is what drives you to what you’ll become.

It’s never enough to want a better future — you need to know what that future looks like. Plan out what you should do each day to get there one day, and start living that way today. Don’t put it off till tomorrow, as you’ll just collect a bunch of empty yesterdays.

This goes for anything from diet to creative projects.


“Failure and success are smoke screens — clouding your measurement of worth. Measure worth by your dedication to goals.”

It’s all about the work you put in — your dedication to what it is you do. Failure and success will come and go. Getting too hung up in the moment of a result can leave you faltering afterwords. Always remembering the dedication that got to you to that result is the true measurement of your worth. The same also applies when looking at other people’s work. They had a journey too, but all you’re seeing is the end result.

Take Action

  1. Study other work, every day. Find inspiration from other’s work.
  2. Pretend to be something you’re not — yet — until you become that or until people recognise you that way. Pretend to make something until you do.
  3. Change what’s around you to inspire you. Remove the glass between you and your work.
  4. Wake up an hour early, skip that TV binge, and make time for that thing you really want.
  5. Begin by writing the date, drawing what you had for breakfast, or doodling a symmetric pattern—it doesn’t matter if it’s unrelated to what you want to create. It’s beginning itself that matters.
  6. Love what you will create, not necessarily what you have created.
  7. Measure your dedication, not success and failures.