‘You’re so lucky to be creative’

I am. I’m often told that. And I often tell myself that. And yes, being a creative and doing something I love and I’m good at for a living can be wonderfully rewarding.

And yet, on another day, I may not be feeling creative at all and it can be pretty tough going.

Every time a new project comes along there’s the initial excitement and then the inevitable self-doubt. Is this the project where creative block finally rears its ugly head, get its teeth stuck in and won’t let go, making this my first failed project ever? It hasn’t happened yet and it probably never will but that feeling doesn’t go away. But I’ve learnt to deal with it.

Pretty much every creative I have ever spoken to about this feels the same. There is no one answer to a creative project, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to design. We rely on our minds and imagination to dream something up. When we start with a blank piece of paper the anticipation of having to fill it with something wonderful brings a mix of both excitement and fear.

So, I thought I’d list some of the ways that I personally have learnt to deal with this…

  1. Don’t whittle away hours tinkering with a project you can’t quite get your head round. Walk away. Do something else. Trawl the internet (see no.2), go and get a coffee. If you’re up late go to bed, leave it until the morning. Going back to it at a later time with fresh eyes can save you time and stress. I have often struggled with something for hours and yet, with fresh eyes, have seen straight away what needs to change and it’s taken me minutes to fix.
  2. Surround yourself with visual stimuli. Go to beautiful places or simply go for a walk. Take photos of things that catch your eye. Follow fellow creatives on instagram, especially creatives with similar approaches to you. All the social media channels present us with endless streams of creativity and inspiration. Keep an eye out for trends. Not just in your specific field of design, in fashion, interiors, food, photography. You’ll find inspiration in all of it.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to other creatives. Just be inspired by them. I can bet you they go through the very same emotions.
  4. Know what style of design you’re good at and become known for it. If someone chooses not to work with you it’s probably because your style and their taste are not aligned. That’s not a bad thing; you want to be working on projects you enjoy and are happy to showcase. I know it’s not always easy but try not to take jobs just for the money. You and your client need to be compatible in order for you BOTH to be happy with the end result. Now I’ve come round to thinking this way (it took a while) I enjoy projects so much more. And remember, if you do have the luxury of being your own boss, pick and choose the jobs you want. That way you get the portfolio you want and attract the clients you want.
  5. Make time for personal projects. If you love being creative it’s important to take time out to do things for YOU. Doing what you love will help to keep your passion & creativity alive.
  6. Be creative whenever the hell you feel like it. Try a new skill and be bad at it. Take pictures of a floor, the clouds, your dinner, your shoes if you feel like it. And do it when people are looking. Yes, some people might question what you’re doing, think it’s odd. But if they’re not creative like you they’ll perhaps just not understand that that kinda stuff floats your boat. They probably have a passion for something you don’t ‘get’. That’s all good, we’re all different. I used to be way too self conscious to do any of the above but I’ve tried so hard to stop worrying about what people think and it’s pretty darn liberating. I’m happier for it and I’m proud that I do it.
“To be strange, or odd, or a “nerd,” is still so unnecessarily stigmatized. Do you really want to know what makes someone a nerd? They allow themselves to be unironically excited and passionate about things without worrying about how it makes them look” How I made weird my success — Everygirl

All of the above helped me to embrace the fear together with the excitement. After all, it’s this very mix of emotions that helps drive us to create inspired, original and beautiful designs.

Louise at lulacreative.co.uk