How Not to Screw Up Your Creative Mojo

Creative work is as challenging as it is engaging. Remarkably creative work is the only way to stand out in a fiercely competitive marketplace. But it comes at a cost.

Dale Carnegie once said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

Writers, designers, musicians, artists, and every other creative professional face setbacks and distractions all the time. But the will to show up and deliver separates the greatest creatives from everyone else.

Don’t wait until your work is perfect

You can’t help it. It’s one of the biggest reasons most people can’t ship or launch anything meaningful…yet.

Creative professionals put so much pressure on themselves to create something that is 100% perfect.

But guess what, perfectionism is unreachable. Don’t wait until it’s perfect.

You may be doing it wrong, but at least you’re doing it.

And once you’re doing it, you have a chance to make it better.

Waiting for perfect means not starting at all.

Release and show your work when it’s good enough to be shared. You can always adapt, grow, and adjust along the way. Progress is better than waiting for a perfect day to ship.

Don’t hold yourself back by telling yourself it’s not ready yet when you know it’s good enough to share and iterate. You’ll learn more by doing than planning.

Creativity flourishes when you don’t seek perfection. Focus on getting stuff done. Just do. Start. Move, make, create, ship, do. Just start. What you do matters, not what you think or plan.

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” — Agatha Christie

The real world rewards those who get stuff done. Give yourself space to think and wonder. And don’t be afraid of what might happen. And don’t forget to celebrate your wins, no matter how small they are.

Creating is the result of thinking like walking. Left foot, problem. Right foot, solution. Repeat until you arrive. Give yourself time in your life to wonder what is possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.

Stop telling yourself your work is not good enough

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” — Henry Ford

Fear sucks. It can range from mild to maddening to career-killing. Most people can’t show their most amazing work to the rest of us because they fear criticism. They feel inadequate.

They are scared people will think it’s not good enough. Others are living in their comfort zones because of fear. You don’t act because you are afraid of too many things that could go wrong.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown, because everything is unknown. Keep doing what you love, even if no one buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up and create.

You’ll suck at most things in the beginning. It takes time, persistence, and patience to create your most amazing work. Every magic happens outside your safe zone.

Pursuing creative work comes with some level of discomfort. That shouldn’t put you off. And it shouldn’t take away your creative expression either. The fear of failure never goes away. It can prevent you from putting yourself and your work out there. Use fear to your advantage. pushes us to do our best

Ship and don’t look back

When you ship, momentum happens. You evolve. Creative processes get better.

If you aspire to be a great writer, just start writing. You can’t be an amazing artist if you don’t enjoy the intense process of sharing your work with the rest of us.

So if you don’t like writing, trying to become a famous writer might not be the best career choice.

Author Kurt Vonnegut says, “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

It’s so easy to focus on the results — the revenue and the outcomes of success.

It’s easy to sit around and read inspirational stories but that won’t prepare you for the career you want.

But the real world rewards those who ship. Those get work done. And not those who are perfect.

Start something you deeply care about and don’t look back. Don’t stop because it’s not perfect. Don’t stall because it’s not good enough to ship.

Shipping is the antidote to uncertainty, and fear of failure.

Paul Jun, author of Connect The Dots: Strategies and Meditations on Self-education encourages us to ship, and learn in the process. He writes, “Shipped projects are essentially a reflection of how your skills and mind are evolving. Each project is a step up from the last. Your first project, say, is a level one — not so great. But as long as that project ships, as long as you learn from it and poured your heart into it, your next project can’t help but be better.”

Start saying “No” and stick to it

Distraction takes away and gives little or nothing if your permit it. When creativity is part of your work every day, month or year it’s a lot easier to waste time.

Without even leaving your creative space, you are likely to spend hundreds of hours of your productive time doing everything but work.

The time you spend on reactionary work — aka responding to other people’s emails, calls, messages, tweets, etc keeps you static instead of making progress.

Identify the things that pull you out of your focus zone and begin to start saying no more often.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights, and talent combined.

No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations.

The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.

Go out there and be brilliant.

Before you go…

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