Each creative career is different, so doesn’t that mean an article like this is flawed from the start?
After all, the way to stay on top of your singing career is very different from the way you stay on top of your web design career. The jobs differ, but there is one constant, and that constant is you.
This article explains how you may change the way you act and work in order to stay on top of your creative career.
1. Only Listen to Your Silent Majority
Critics and clients have very limited use. You cannot please all people at all times. When it comes to creative work, you need to be very careful what sort of criticism you listen to. Listen too much, and your bold colors turn beige. Take too much advice, and your opera becomes a jingle.
If you are going to listen to anybody, then listen to your silent majority. To better explain this point, let us consider the case of Ben Croshaw. He started on YouTube by making his own gaming reviews. He had trouble keeping his viewer numbers up, so he kept tweaking and changing his show.
For example, he noticed he had more views if he spoke faster, so he increased his speaking speed. Also noticed that his videos gained more views if they featured cartoons with bold yellows and black colors rather than with more realistic colors.
He added and changed many things. Also speaks quickly, and so-called his show Zero Punctuation because of how he speaks. Ben added a joke after every third line. He called his player names something silly. He used dry British wit and gave himself a pen name called Yahtzee, and he used funny imagery in his videos.
His video style didn’t just appear, it was thought out and repeatedly tested by measuring how many views each episode gained him. After Ben’s videos went from flat to fantastic, he was hired by the Escapist Magazine to have his own segment on their website.
Ben listened to his silent majority by testing out different changes and tweaks and then using his YouTube viewer count to gauge if his tweaks should stay or go.
If he made a change and his viewer count remained low or started going down week after week, then he would alter his change and try again.
2. Just Keep Producing
One of the keys to success, with regards to a creative career, is the dogged desire to keep producing.
Stephen King said his success was due to the fact that he always wrote ten pages every day. He even used to write during the holidays.
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert Cartoons, said that continuous production was what powered his success. He said that only one out of every four of his comics are funny, which is why he needs to just keep producing no matter what.
It sounds like childish throwaway advice to tell you to “just keep producing,” but you would be surprised how many creative people…stop.There are mould makers out there that stop generating new varieties of moulds because they want to sell the stock they have. They don’t realize that the most prolific creators are the most successful.
You will not sell everything you create, even if you make things to order, but an unceasing desire to create will make you a winner because many creative jobs are a numbers game.
3. Change Is Part of the Evolution of Your Ideas
Common sense suggests that you should keep changing and tweaking your creative output to help you find a perfect creative product. However, there are many creative jobs that do not allow such a simplified version of change.
Some creative people are able to keep changing and tweaking in order to find a perfect creative product, and other creative people have to evolve instead.
For example, a sculptor may hone his or her skills for years until the work is flawless. That is done by making small changes and tweaks over time in order to create a better status.
The same is not true of directors, otherwise, older directors would still be shooting black and white movies. Even sound directors have had to evolve the way they create their final product to create depths of sound and to accommodate for surround sound and digital sound.
Evolution is both about making your output better and about giving your audience what they want. A mixture of both is required for an evolving creative person. If you simply give people what you think they want, then you end up with Jar JarBinx.
Tweaking and changing are more about what you feel is best. Could you have painted the portrait with better hands? Could the background color be toned down a little? Does your work lead the eye or not?
Considering what the audience wants only extends to your client’s demands.
For example, a dancer has to tweak and change what he or she does in order to become better. A dancer cannot evolve as a dancer. A dancer cannot decide to jump any higher just because the audience demands it.
Ben Croshaw, the video game reviewer from the example earlier, is a great example of a creative person changing and tweaking without really evolving.
His videos still feature 2D cartoons with him talking over them, but the way he speaks, his comedy style, his imagery, his pen name, and even the cadence of his voice was all generated through him tweaking his style a little, testing it, and tweaking it again until he went from bland to brilliant.
4. Find a Way to Have Fun
There are plenty of ways to have fun, even if it means perverting what you do to have a little fun. For example, you can squeeze a joke into a piece of your creative work to see if anybody notices.
You may also like to add your “Conservative with a small C” views into your text without your client noticing. If you are given a choice as to what direction you take your work, you should always pick something you find fun to do.
For example, if you are asked to design a website with a content management system, then use one that you feel the most comfortable with.
For example, if you are a photographer and you have been told to create photos for animal memes, then you could pick animals that you already find funny…such as ducks.
Are You Having Trouble Staying Motivated?
As a creative person, especially a freelance or self-employed creative person, you are going to have trouble with motivation. There are two main causes for your lack of motivation.
The first cause is ugly, dangerous, and a creative career killer. It is dangerous because people underestimate it to the point where they ignore it. Because people do not realize the impact it makes on their mentality.
It is a career killer because people who do not succumb to the cause outshine those that do succumb. The first and most dangerous threat to your motivation is tiredness.
Before you skim read onward, you have to understand that tiredness is so dangerous because people honestly don’t think it is a problem. They don’t realize that their bad days, their lack of motivation, and their frustration is being powered by their tiredness.
They think that tiredness is okay because they can still produce great stuff when tired, but they what they don’t know is that they are training themselves to be unmotivated and they are training themselves to procrastinate by working when tired.
Your brain associates the feel of being groggy and tired with your work, which is why you feel so under-motivated.
The second most common cause of under motivation is the lack of an immediate reward.
Gambling machines offer an instant reward, which is why they are so addictive, but creative work cannot offer instant gratification.
Wouldn’t it be great if dollars dropped out of your computer every time you created a new line of code for an app you were creating? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you received a suitcase full of money every time you finished an interior design drawing?
One way around this problem is to record your progress and maybe set smaller goals.
The trick is to try different methods of your own creation to see which works the most for your creative career.
Luckily for you, creative people tend to come up with the most creative ways of keeping themselves motivated, from promising themselves a motorbike if they achieve a certain goal, to hitting their legs with a piece of bamboo every time they became distracted.
Conclusion – Change Yourself
Do as this article asks and give its pieces of advice a little thought every now and again. You are the one who needs to evolve and/or change in order to be successful in your creative career.
Creative jobs do not rely on luck, but some of your opportunities will rely on luck. Make your own luck, and if you find that motivation is a common and recurring problem, then maybe consider another path.