Creativity tips for a productive 2018: Part 1

Want to make 2018 a productive year? Read my selected Creativity Tips before 2017 ends.

Hello Writer and Creative,

If you live in the real world, you will agree with me that great feats are hardly achieved accidentally. Historical and current examples of men and women who have done great things with their lives show us that more often than we realize, excellence requires intentional diligence and consistency.

A few days ago, I posted the image below on my Instagram:

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As we pack shop out of 2017, I felt everyone needed a reminder to introspectively evaluate 2017 and plan to maximize the opportunities of 2018 (because there will be lots of them). If you still think that opportunity comes once in a lifetime, you need to read my last post here.

“2018 is going to be a great year for the intentional creative.”

In 2018, I want to be a better writer, an intentional creative and an enthusiastic learner. I have been researching tips on how this can be possible and I felt to share with you what I found proven and practical. In this post, I will be sharing a trait I observed is present in all successful writers and creatives, called Consistency.

Consistency.

You probably know that one of the secrets to staying fresh and energetic is to write on a regular schedule (and the most consistent example is daily), and though every good book on writing maintains this as crème de la crème of writing advice, most writers find it difficult to practice. Yet, I can with near certainty, say that more than half of wannabe and accomplished authors will add any form of this golden word to their new year resolutions as 2018 draws near.

So what can we do about this?

They say, it all starts in the mind. I agree.

Start by agreeing with the fact that you will not find the time to write. The time to write will not show up like a lost toy you found inside the sofa while spring cleaning the house nor will you find it like a digger in a gold mine. You will have to create the time. Understanding this is the beginning of successful hustle. Though it feels good to bask in the delights of the few and far between child prodigy stories that have not gotten us anywhere than make us dreamers and wishers without any fire in our bones, I’d say that in 2018, start working on your craft. Whether you are talented or not, you need to put in the work.

I was not known to be the coolest guy in elementary, or high school (at least I didn’t think so), but I was known to be the guy that was very gifted in the arts. Anyone who wanted something drawn in school, or painted at church came to me. Friends who needed essays written, re-written or edited came to me. I have worked on many books, magazines, design projects for individuals and organizations since high school and I am a published author. Some have called me a naturally talented creative.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter.

It does not matter because I have met people who are not “naturally talented” but are now well-respected experts in the career they chose, simply because they put in the work! Interestingly, I also discovered that many people who are considered ungifted are just lost. Wait until they find their path and realize the power consistency.

Adobe Spark

While you cannot overemphasize the importance of a consistent practice of craft, your writing does not need to be perfect. What prospective medical student thinks he can perform open heart surgeries while still taking pre-med biology?

It’s… wait for it... the stupid one.

Sounds harsh, but it’s true! And I’m not saying the writer who thinks he can produce a masterpiece fresh off the start is stupid. I am just saying it’s okay if your first few compositions are not perfect. So, step one – Decide to consistently practice your craft – every day in 2018. How?

Just do it.

I know it sounds cliche, but the moment you remember you have to write, just write. The world will not end, and surely that episode of Stranger Things you are watching will wait.

Sometimes this writing practice will not always have a purpose other than to hone your craft.

We often wish every stroke of our pen or clang of the keyboard results in a masterpiece that will be adored by millions. Writers who consider themselves missionaries – who favor a specific sub-genre or theme – more often than others fall prey to this mindset. That is why we stare at the blank screen or paper and wait – for the muse – but end up writing nothing. You do not always have to write according to your selected theme. Your writing practice today may merely be to fathom the world sanctimonious – by finding ten synonyms or antonyms and using it in different ways within a conversation. On other days, it may be putting a backstory into your lead character’s life. Sometimes, it may be reading a prose written by someone you respect or writing the draft of the story you aren’t sure how it’s going to end. Sometimes, its using computer-generated writing prompts!

Quality is often extracted from quantity.

I secretly wish everything I create becomes a masterpiece, but I know that nothing in life works like that. We celebrate the great artists, composers, and writers of old but do you realize that for every famous work of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon, there are hundreds of paintings that weren’t so famous? Have you seen how many sketchbooks accomplished artists keep? Ever heard of rough drafts? No one sees those, yet they form the foundation for masterpieces and bestsellers.

Adobe Spark (1)

The thought that the world has to see everything you write is the beginning of frustration, because, truthfully, we usually start with nonsense. Get used to it. One of the most celebrated American writers of the last two centuries, Ray Bradbury reportedly said “every writer has a million bad words in them.  The sooner you get through that first million, the faster you get to the words worth sharing.” Another writer, Malcolm Gladwell proposed that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice are needed to become world-class in any field. While I do not necessarily fix an arbitrary number to it, I agree with the attitude of consistent deliberate practice behind those words. The sooner you can get beyond 10,000 words or 10,000 hours, the earlier you can start creating enthralling masterpieces.

The movie Starwars was not shot a few hours after the scriptwriter came up with the story – it surely took months and years of work! An accomplished athlete is not one who stumbles onto the Olympics but spends hours practicing for the games.

So why should your writing be different?

I will pause here so you can digest the words above. Tomorrow, we will dive deep into the nitty-gritty of Consistency. Stay creative!

Cheers!

Toluwanimi

Will your blood be worth it?

Hello,

This is a Creative tip for writers:

“Part of being a good writer is being spiritually and emotionally healthy.”

Maybe for others, who write to non-humans, it doesn’t matter. But for me, And others who desire to keep writing about the deep things of life to an audience of humans, it’s the first thing that matters. More than what how-to-write books, manuals on grammar or textbooks of Elements of style can do.

Many years ago, when I started writing, I was only concerned about crafting beautiful words that cause readers to ask for more and also wonder how great the author behind the words is. Thank God, I didn’t churn out any major work with that mindset.

Now, I realize for any meaningful and eternally significant writing, you need to acknowledge your humanity. 

What do I mean?

No writer has a smooth sail in life. There are triumphs and trials. Bad habits. Virtues. Struggles. Strengths. Weaknesses. 

I’m beginning to discover that writers are also human beings who may be shy, Or extroverted. They may have intra-family feuds, fell pain, and joy. Both encouragement and disappointments happen to them. They make poor choices at times. They experience both the good and bad. 

Yet, they are called to write. And write, they know they must.


Sometimes you write as an authority or therapist on life matters. Other times, you write as a witness who just happens to know how to frame the words. Most times, its the latter.

Either way, you aren’t detached from your writing. It reflects you-emotionally and spiritually.

And because of this, God doesn’t leave writers clueless. He shows up each day we invite him to work. He is the muse. He infuses the writer with life, empowers him or her to live the life for the work to pulsate with life. 

And the work will reflect what response a writer has to the Muse. Live and write = impact. Any other benefit may be added later.

So much for my babbling… but… Isaiah 50:4-5 says it in clearer terms.

Still I see writing as bleeding onto a blank page. 

Will your blood be worth it?

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

UNCHARTED: Part One

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Growing up, I always loved to draw, paint and make crafts, but I did those as a hobby. The journey towards being paid for doing what I love started in 2005. It was during my pre-senior secondary school break that I first used a computer for design during a month-long stint at a graphic design company. Since then, I have logged in hours of personal/online training, as well as individual and collaborative professional work in the more than 11 years that have followed.

Why am I saying this in the middle of August? It’s not as if this day or month marks any special anniversary (though this month, I registered studio13:52 at the DBA as well as opened shop on Upwork).

Well, you will figure out the answer on your own.

It’s said that you need at least 10,000 hours of practicing a craft to become an expert of some significance. That’s about ten years (if you practice three hours daily). Though I am a professional graphic designer with 11 plus years behind, I perceive myself to be only starting.

As I take contracts in my local county, from my home country or across continents on Upwork, I realize that many years behind me does not nullify the need to continue to learn with the right tools and make the right connections in the ever-evolving creative world. The next challenge after establishing basics is to keep evolving to stay on top of my game.

While Studio 13:52 moves into an uncharted territory (you will hear soon), with the horizon promising endless possibilities, one thing is certain – I am committed to delivering inspired imaginations (That’s some marketing there!).

Am I good? Maybe a little bit.

Do I know all there is to design? Absolutely not!

So to practice and evolve, I must – today, tomorrow and the day after.

Even so, it’s not ten thousand hours of energy in all directions. It’s focused, repetitive, coordinated practice in the direction of a meaningful passion. With an assurance of God’s blessing on my endeavor (key point!), time and concerted effort is needed.

Interestingly, this pretty much applies to my faith, writing, relationships, career, vocation, ministry, family life and every other thing in-between.

Maybe yours too, if you think about this.

I’ll write more soon.

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

Write as fast as you comfortably can

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I wanted to craft the greatest statement of purpose ever written by a graduate student. So I searched the internet and read many credible guides, perused numerous samples and gained much knowledge.

I pondered deeply my career objectives and sought existing concepts to fit my passions. I plotted. But I didn’t write a word. I was waiting for the perfect pitch. The inspiration never came and days rolled into weeks, the deadline looming ahead. And it was beginning to frustrate me.

Until a veteran advised me: start writing.

And so I typed my heart out, turning off my internal editor. The boys in the basement were turning out paragraphs so fast that I didn’t get enough time to neatly punctuate or correct typos. It nearly killed me but I didn’t mind. I kept on and soon, I had pages that become the first draft.

Shitty, though, it was better than nothing. My mind was uncluttered.

When I returned several days later, I read with fresh eyes and was able to cut out needless words, proofread and edited my work, finally trimming the size to two pages of precious prose.

It’s looking more like it. Though I still need to run it by a few trained eyes before I send it out, I am at rest. Fortunately, James Scott Bell gave concise words to this principle I practiced.

He said,

“I’m an advocate of writing as fast as you comfortably can. I believe that creativity and flow and your best material come when you can get those words down relatively fast. You take your time when editing, but when you compose, get out of the way and let the words and ideas come. If you are a slow writer, consider that part of the reason may be fear. You think that if you write too fast your quality will suffer. This is a bias toward control that is a common affliction among writers. You want to assert quality control up front, at the creation stage. What you need to do is allow yourself to write junk. Don’t try to shape every word or page as you write.”

I agree – Asides from helping you do away with procrastination, this ups your writing speed and trains your imagination to crank out more material at a faster rate.

Write as fast as you comfortably can. Edit later.

P.S.: I’d even heard that every writer has about 10,000 bad words (or is it paragraphs?) inside. The earlier you get these out, the better.

Cheers,

Toluwanimi