I have always fancied myself as a bit of a creator, as I'm certain that many of us in the wide variety of geek fandoms do. It is lovely to be enthusiastic about the things that we love. It is even more satisfying to be the source of that enthusiasm. We all have things that we hope to accomplish with our lives, but sometimes we don't quite know what to do, or what the next step is. So how do we begin with our endeavors and move towards the success we wish to achieve? Some of us are better at this than others. For those of you who are aspiring novelists, game designers, musicians, actors, etc. (and you crazy people like me who want to do all of those things and then some,) here is some simple, succinct advice to help you move forward:
1) Spend less time thinking and more time doing.
It sounds ridiculously simple, but it is so frustratingly hard. When I look back at all of the times in my life I felt really proud of the work I had done, it usually was a result of diving right into it and knowing that I could make it come out alright. Instead of asking the question “How do I start?” just do. You might feel like you can't, but if you can master this step, you're already halfway there. If you are not particularly good at being self-policing when it comes to achieving your goals, share them with others. The more accountable you make yourself, the better. It helps to ask for and receive support from people who care about your success just as much as you do. Remember: friendship is magic, kids.
2) Don't demoralize yourself.
This is one of my personal mantras and it helps me anytime I'm feeling down. I know mantras are typically supposed to be positive and affirming, more about do's than don'ts, but I personally love this gentle reminder. There are many external factors and forces that will keep you down if you give into them. Don't let yourself be one of those factors. Negative self-talk breeds neurosis and is the enemy of progress. Try to catch your mind anytime it tries to move away from progress and put it back on track to a more positive attitude. If you find this difficult, supplement it with googling pictures of your favorite baby animals.
|Quokka, I will never get tired of looking at you.|
3) Remember that creativity is a process.
It would be wonderful if everything came out perfectly from conception to execution, but that is, unfortunately, a gross misrepresentation of how creativity works. Sometimes you slave for hours on something that can be read in minutes, and you might end up scrapping it anyway. This is bound to happen, but it is an important part of the process. You don't have to love everything that comes out of your brain, and you shouldn't expect it to be perfect from the get-go. Give yourself room to revise, edit, re-imagine, and you'll be a lot happier with the results. Do use your head though. We don't want Greedo shooting first.
4) Focus on one thing.
I'm guilty of sometimes not following this piece of advice, but it really helps. As I mentioned previously, I really do want to be a renaissance man of entertainment. Over the course of your life, you will have many creative ideas. You probably already have some you've put significant thought into. Write them down. Make a physical representation of them so you know what you're working towards. Anyone who's made even a slight foray into the world of goal planning will be familiar with this process. Once you've done that, chances are that you'll realize that one of your endeavors seems like the most important one to focus on. Once you've determined what that is, dive into it head first. Trust that you will know when it's time to move onto your next goal. Barring any unfortunate extenuating circumstances, life is much longer than you think it is. There will be time for everything you want to do as long as you make time for it. Think of yourself like Bowser in Super Mario Kart. Slow to start, but once you reach top-speed you're really moving forward.
|Admittedly, I'm more of a Koopa Troopa fan, but dammit, I'm trying to motivate you.|
This is good advice for anything. The sum of knowledge of all humankind is available in these magic devices called books. Granted, some are better and more useful than others, but I trust that you can act as intelligent, autonomous beings and filter out the less useful information. You are geeks, after all. I know that self-help books sometimes have a negative stigma attached, but that's mostly because people tend to be overly proud, and think they should be able to handle everything life throws at them without outside influence. Try to distance yourself from this kind of thinking. Just like creativity, life is a process. We are constantly rewriting ourselves to adjust to our circumstances. Find books that help you grow, as well as technical advice for your creative goals. Make time for reading. Get some audiobooks and listen to them in transit. Read a few minutes before bed. Really, just read like crazy. Make Levar Burton proud.
6) Remind yourself that ignorance is not equivalent to failure.
Allow yourself to accept that it is okay to not know something. We've all been ignorant of a great many things before we encountered them for the first time. If there is something you don't understand about any part of the creative process, do not fret because you can learn it. Others have found a great deal of success in your prospective field probably before you even knew it was something you wanted to do. Don't hesitate to ask them or research how they succeeded. Just because you are unaware of something does not mean that it is an insurmountable obstacle.
|I think you already know what I'm trying to say here.|
Now go out there, you lovely people, and make something beautiful. I know you can.
Justin Rhodes is a San Francisco Bay Area native with a background in writing, game design, film, and theatre.