I Stopped Asking These 3 Questions and Immediately Became a Better Artist

‘Can I be doing more to encourage more creativity to surface itself from its precious depths?’ This is something I have gotten answers for previously — but it was instead asking: ‘Can I be doing less to encourage more creativity to surface itself?’ that gave me a tremendous career-changing boost.

Oh, and the answer is yes.

The official definition of ‘creativity’ is : ‘the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.’

The unofficial definition of ‘creativity’ is : ‘the badass technique of coming up with ideas and creating awesome solutions to the world’s problems and getting paid the big bucks for it.’

Firstly, there’s no way that ridiculous second definition should be taken seriously. Secondly, the second definition should be taken very seriously.

Coming up with ideas and effectively executing them is the key to flourishing in the new economy. All of the top people in the spotlight and the best paid/ respected people behind the scenes are all extremely creative. They can drum up an innovative idea on demand and can execute on it faster than you can say ‘big bucks’.

So you’re a creative person. You do your best to produce your best… yet you fear that you can’t produce the same world-class creativity levels as those who sit at the top of their game.

Why is that?

It’s simple. You’re asking the wrong questions. Here are the three questions you should never ask before and during execution of an idea if you want to be truly creative:

Has someone done this before?

It’s true. When I’m writing, I sometimes get a hint of anxiety telling me ‘this might be a great article, but dang! You know what, someone has definitely written about this before!’

But what does this achieve? First of all, so what! Someone has already done what you’ve done before? Great, it means you’re onto a good thing and it’s likely to work. You’re learning and growing. Sometimes stealing from the best people is even a great way to understand a baseline for your skill.

A lot of film director suffers from what I like to call ‘hipster-itus’. This is a chronic disease that prevents a director from being able to move forward with any good ideas because ‘its not what the greats would do’. This counter-intuitive thinking will get you nowhere, who is going to watch your film?

‘The audience just don’t understand my art’ would be a classic response from someone who suffers from ‘hipster-itus’. Unfortunately, this is just evidence of a deeper problem that will never give them the ideas that will shape the world. As Tom Bilyeu often says about changing the world:

You can’t change someone’s thinking, you can only leverage people’s behaviour in a new way to get them into a virtuous cycle.

So what/who are you going to change in the world by introducing a new camera angle that’s creative and new to you, but total sh*t for anyone else watching?

What more/new can I bring to the table?

It’s really not about whether you can bring anything new, but whether you can give value at all. See whilst you spend time fearing, hiding under your bedsheets — you could have just been putting your work out there and adding value to someone.

Whilst I am not going to force you to adopt an overly optimistic point of view (which I must say I have); think, for just a moment, as if you are about to publish a book. This is how it may turn out:

  1. You publish the book.
  2. Your book makes it into bookstores worldwide.
  3. Millions of people pick up your book.
  4. They are familiar with some of the topics that you have presented, but the deeper, more adventurous ideas are brand new concepts to the readers.
  5. Suddenly you’ve made a shift in the way people think all around the world.
  6. You’re the next Tim Ferriss .

Okay, that was definitely a great display of my ‘hyper-optimism’… But you see, allowing your fear of not being able to deliver on bringing new and valuable ideas to the table, to overwhelm you is exactly what is going to prevent you from any of that. No book publishing. No massive audience. No shift in worldwide thought process. No Tim Ferriss.

What’s going to happen once it’s finished?

You cannot know. Only the market can decide that. When I say market, I’m referring to your friends, your family, critics, supporters, fans, mentors, partners… practically anyone who sees your work.

The only place you will ever find the answers to the questions you ask yourself before creating or finishing your work… is at the end. Rather than asking these questions, you must complete your work, put it out into the world, let the market eat you up and spit you back out again. (sorry for the vulgar analogy, I ate a horribly, spicy red chilly today…)

From there, you will get your results. This could come in the form of reviews, audience size growth, money or even a simple praise. It’s from these results, that you can learn from and extract future ideas and creativity.

The goal of creativity is to create something new and innovative — and neither of these would be reached if you’re stuck in your head.

I leave you with my favourite quote from the incredible Neil Strauss :

If you throw a pebble, you never know where the ripples will go, the question is, will you throw it?

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