I often experience the joy of answering this frequently asked question: ‘What do you recommend if I want to have a creative career?’ Sometimes school or uni students contact me, or those seeking inspiration as they actively change their career path. I have written these top five tips in response to this question and hope they may be helpful for you too if you are seeking to pursue a heart centred, creative career.
1. Put pen to paper (or crayon, or pencil, or brush!) daily. I have a box of journals dating back to my early teenage years. Within these books are poems, bits of prose, drawings, collages and paintings of all kinds. I have also made a habit of keeping dairies that record daily life in all its complexity, simplicity, beauty and splendour! These diaries continue to connect me with my creativity, feed my inspiration, and help me loosen my hands to let my words flow. As a delightful bonus, they become beautiful, treasured memories of my years.
I encourage any person pursuing a creative career or seeking to explore their creative side to commit daily to expressing themselves through words and pictures. The idea is not to create something perfect but to create something meaningful and alive. Your style will develop, you will be more grateful for the inspirations that surround you, you will learn more about yourself while documenting your life, and you will have a therapeutic, enriching daily practise to look forward to.
2. Avoid self-criticism. Creativity is free expression and is a very important, natural and deeply fulfilling part of life. Whether you are beginning your artistic practise or are highly skilled in your craft, self sabotaging doubt about your ability and/or perfectionism are intensely stifling and discouraging. Let your work be your work. Let it breathe. Avoid obsessing over the details, let it be a genuine, authentic expression. The more positively you view your creative energy and the loving relationship you build with it through your daily journalling, artistic practise and sharing with others, the more free and comfortable you will become. Your work will naturally grow and develop, bringing you and others more and more pleasure.
3. Own and enjoy your natural Style. When I first started drawing, my faces looked quite different. They had more detail around the eyes and they often looked rather melancholy! Over many years of drawing, my faces became simplified and more joyous. This was not something I forced, copied or tried too hard to master, I just let my style naturally evolve without judgement or obsession. Everyone has a style. Just think of your handwriting – It is unique to you! The way you draw an apple will be different to the way I do. We all see the world with different eyes and this is what makes art (not to mention living!) so very exciting. Embrace your unique style. Avoid copying or constantly comparing yourself to others. This will steal your joy and affect the natural development of your very own style.
4. Connect with other creative people. It is so refreshing and exhilarating to be surrounded by like-minded creative souls. Feed your passion by surrounding yourself with similarly inspired, creative people. Join an art class. Take tours at your local gallery. Partake in lectures or forums. LIsten to inspirational, creative podcasts or join an interactive online course. Talk about your experiences, your dreams and your inspirations. Return to your practise feeling refreshed, and if you so wish, share your work with your network so you may offer one another support and encouragement.
5. Never give up. My drawing teacher at university told me to quit drawing and take up another career as I had no potential. Even though I was quite upset at the time, I continued to draw and love it. Many years later, I celebrate my work every day and continue to learn and grow. Never give up, and be courageous in following your dreams. You deserve to be happy, fulfilled and really loving your life.
Creativity is a renewable and unique resource – the more you use it, the more it grows! Life is rich with endless inspirations. There will always be something for you to document and explore. I hope these tips have encouraged you to look afresh at your own creative life, and welcome any comments, ideas or suggestions you may wish to share below.