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How To Become A More Creative Person

how to become more creative

Today I wanted to talk about something that I get asked quite often. Now, I’ve been producing content in the form of videos or audio podcasts or blogs for a very long time. I think the first like blog that I actually wrote was over 18 years ago and even before that I was making small websites to publish my content online. I’ve been blogging and making videos and doing all sorts of stuff for a long time. So how does one continue to create? I mean, you would think that at some point you would kind of reach the end of your creativity or you would struggle so much at coming up with something new that you would just run out of options. But I end up having a problem with being able to narrow it down and actually focus on having a clear direction because I am constantly going in different directions. I am always reading, thinking, researching, and expanding my mind to continue to broaden my creative mind.



So creating has never really been a problem for me. It’s more finding that clear direction that is a challenge for me, because when you put things out there, people want some sort of consistency. They want to know what to expect, and a lot of times I’m just all over the place. So, because I get the question often, I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve identified as the things that I have done in my life that has allowed me to continue to create. But these also are things that I can also allow to get in the way. Or I can forget, and I do this quite often.

So by no means have I mastered it or anything like that. These are things that I just identified as areas that so long as I returned to these or that I focus on these, I never have a problem coming up with ideas. I never have a problem being inspired. I never have a problem figuring out what I should create next or what I should work on next. So long as I return to these things.

1. Be True to Yourself and Others

I’m going to use the word passion, even though I don’t necessarily like the word, I think it’s overused but always speak from your passion. And the reason that I’m saying I don’t necessarily like that phrase I’m saying it because it’s the one that everybody uses. But I think what really matters is that you just always remain true to yourself, true to your message, true to your beliefs.

So long as that you’re not trying to be something that you’re not, I think you will always have no problem with creating. The moment that you try to become something that you’re not. You are at odds with yourself first. And so because you’re at odds with yourself because you’re trying to be someone else, you’re trying to produce what somebody else produces. It just doesn’t feel right. You’re at odds with your being, and because of that, it just makes it harder for you to continue to create because it’s not coming from somewhere from within here. It’s coming from ego or it’s coming from, something in your mind that says, I’m not good enough, so I need to copy or I need to be that person. There is so much of that on the internet, and it’s also something that you can get caught up in because if you start producing something and you feel like maybe your message is too closely aligned with somebody else’s, you feel like, “Oh, well I don’t want to come across is that I’m copying that person or I don’t want to come across as trying to be what that person is already doing.

And maybe they have more success so far, than you do or they seem to have more success. There’s a lot that can be like a constant battle there. And as you could probably tell, like I even conflicted often by this. I try to be true and be transparent and of course lead with honesty in my videos because if I ever start to deter from that to where I’m like I believe in what I’m saying, but I’m also not totally on board with the methods or something like that or I didn’t put in the work. I didn’t do everything that I felt to actually be able to talk about that in an honest way.

I feel like I’m BS’ing myself and BS’ing everybody else. So for me, I really just need to be true. I think that so long as you can be true to whatever it is that you care about, whatever it is that gets you up in the morning that makes you excited, then you will have no problem continuing to create because you have something to draw from. Where a lot of people out there are just drawing from what they see other people doing and that’s empty. There’s no depth to that because there’s only so much on the surface level that you can see that other people are doing. You have to be able to dig deeper than that.

2. Be a Practitioner

So number two is to be a practitioner. You have to be a practitioner in whatever it is that you’re wanting to put out there.

You can’t speak from no experience. You have to have experience. And then if you don’t have much experience in whatever it is that you’re trying to whether it’s making videos about, talk about on a podcast, blog about, create in any form. If you don’t have a whole lot of experience, you won’t have a whole lot of depth. And so you need to be a practitioner and it’s okay to start from a place where you don’t have a whole lot of depth. That’s how we all start. I mean a small infant gets up and starts to walk and is wobbly and falls many times and gets back up and doesn’t question or make the choice of like, well, walking isn’t for me. I’m never going to do it again. They get back up and they continue to try until they’re walking and doing it on their own.

That is just innately something that happens in just about every single one of us. So you need to be a practitioner and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be a professional before you even get started. It just means that you constantly need to be practicing, that you need to be doing what it is that you’re talking about. You need to be speaking from and producing based off of real life experience. And it doesn’t matter if you’re at the very beginning or if you’ve been doing it for 20 plus years and you have all the experience in the world. You just need to be a practitioner and continue at that. At any point that you stop doing that, it’s going to be at odds with your creative mind and your ability to continue to produce, because you’re going to run out of things that you have tried.

You’re going to run out of brick walls that you’ve ran up against and that you’ve had to try and figure out a way through. I mean, as a practitioner of something, you’re constantly trying, you’re constantly revising, you’re figuring out better methods. You are trying to get to that next level and improve. And if you stop being a practitioner of whatever it is that you’re doing, then you run out of creativity. I mean, how can you be creative if you’re not constantly practicing, constantly trying.

3. Always be Researching

Always be researching, and that goes into part of being a practitioner. For me, I’m always researching. I’m always digging. Even in those times of research, it even leads to creative breakthroughs because sometimes I even run into situations where there’s something that I am trying to figure out. There’s something that I’m trying to do and I can’t find an answer out there on the internet.

I’m very much, I can’t say self taught because I’ve been taught by hundreds and thousands of times by people who have put content out there. I’ll want to figure out how to do something. So I’ll research it, I’ll find an answer, I will learn and then I will put it into practice. And if there are any instances where I’m trying to figure something out and I can’t find the answer, then I have to take from my experience and I need to try and figure it out on my own without having anybody else’s knowledge that had the exact answer already figured it out. And so in those situations I have to continue to research.

I have to figure out what is that missing link, what am I not seeing? And usually that leads to a breakthrough eventually and then not even becomes a piece of content or something that I can create and put out there because I as a consumer of the information that’s out there want to be also a producer of information so that if there’s something that I figure out on my own, I put it out there in hopes that somebody else may have that same problem and my solution that I have put out there publicly can be consumed by them, and then their life is bettered as well.

So you’ll always want to be researching, because part of being a practitioner is researching and figuring it out. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to get better at a sport, if you’re trying to be a better student, if you’re trying to be better at anything, researching helps and practicing helps. Those two things lead to breakthroughs. They lead to getting you to the next level and you can’t get to the next level if you’re not doing those things. And you can’t continue to be creative unless you are stretching yourself and you have to do that both informs of practice and stretching your mind.

4. Ask Questions

Always be asking questions. A lot of times, we are afraid to ask questions for many reasons. We’re afraid because we don’t want to come across as… or we don’t want people to think that we know less than we should know.

We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want to ask a stupid question. There’s lots of reasons why we don’t ask questions, but it’s very important to ask questions because, we have our own perspective and our own, not limitations on just what something can be and somebody else may see it from a different angle and their response to your question or their question to your question, whatever that might end up being, can open your mind and open your eyes to a wider range of possibilities. That often leads to creative opportunities. In my, walk as a photographer over many years now, um, every opportunity that I’ve taken my camera into that’s different is an opportunity where I’m like, okay, I have not done this before. I haven’t photographed this type of event before, this thing before.

I need to ask questions, I need to understand it because I need to take what that situation is all about and I need to match that up with my experience. And then even go back to number three, which is researching. I need to research if I don’t have an answer, if I can’t put it together with the experience that I already have. So asking questions always leads to a new possibilities. People are so afraid to ask questions these days and I know why. It’s because we’ve asked a question before and somebody told us that we were stupid or something like that, or made us feel bad for asking that question. If you look at the successful people in this world, the richest people or whatever, they’re not afraid to ask questions. They’re not afraid to challenge something and to ask a question about it.

If they don’t understand, they want to know more about it. If they even believe the person that they’re talking to doesn’t quite grasp exactly what it is that they’re heading into words in that direction. A question can help direct. There is a reason why we are such inquisitive people and we want to know information. We want to understand things. And it all comes from asking questions. And these days we have so much information available to us. We don’t have to do the physical asking of the question. I don’t have to ask the question because I can ask Google, an inanimate object, that’s not going to tell me that I’m dumb. I don’t have to ask a person. But a lot of times I think when we’re actually really able to find new creativity, we have to be asking questions to people.

We have to see their face, we have to understand them. When we asked that question, we need to see that answer. We need to see if there is pain or struggle and that answer if there’s frustration. All of those things are opportunities for us to understand more and deepen our understanding in just that whole process. I mean asking questions is, super important. And to always be testing, which is number five.

5. Test Continually

If you do not take everything that you have learned and test it and try it and put it to the fire or whatever, you’re never going to know if anything works or not. I am constantly testing, I’m trying new things. I have an idea and I work on that idea a little bit. Well if it’s something that I want to actually pursue, I need to test that idea.

I need to put it out there. If I’m not testing it, I will never know whether or not it’s any good. And a lot of times I do test something and take it down because maybe it just doesn’t end up being what I want it to be a or it didn’t work out. There’s a lot of times I film videos like this and I go and edit them and I spend some time with them and maybe even show it to a few people and I ended up, either re shooting it or getting rid of it altogether or going in a total different direction. Testing is super important. I think the reason that people don’t do a whole lot of testing is because they are afraid to fail.

6. Failure Means You’re Getting Closer

People are really afraid to fail and I get it. Anybody from my generation especially and probably any generation has grown up being shamed for being wrong, feeling bad for being wrong. The way that we’re all brought up, which I’m not going to try and argue whether or not it’s good or bad here. But we are immediately in childhood put into a hierarchy in a sense where we’re graded, where we are lined up in order of something. And so it’s very easy for a lot of us to feel afraid to try because we don’t want to fail. We look back or have these memories of failing as a child, or failing as a teen or even as an adult.

And those things scare us and we don’t want that pain. But if we are afraid to fail, then we are never trying. We are never doing anything that we can be a practitioner out that we can, research, that we can ask questions about and that we can be testing if we’re not failing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Try

Don’t be afraid to try. I mean, that goes in with don’t be afraid to fail. Trying… it’s very easy for us to say like, “Oh, well I tried that, I tried that and I didn’t like it, or it didn’t work out for me.” Or whatever the situation is. It’s very easy to get caught up in that. But the problem is, is that we need to try, we need to put ourselves out there. We need to understand where our limitations are, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, so that we can refine so that we can figure out where the areas that we need to grow and work on those.

And maybe there are some things that are just… we’re just not that great at. So we decide okay, well I’m going to focus on these things that do come a little bit more natural to me. I’m not going to totally throw these other things out that don’t come natural to me, but I’m not going to go completely down that road because those things are less likely for me to succeed at. I know for me, like part of what I do is design, as a photographer, as a web designer and I do some graphic design, the design aspect of things is really hard for me. I cannot just sit down and design something and have it be great. It takes a lot and sometimes it takes a lot of time. It takes trying, stopping, walking away, coming back later, multiple revisions.

Whereas some people can just sit down and knock out a great design, really easy, even if it’s a simple design, something really simple. It takes a lot of time. I also need a lot of inspiration for design, whereas some people they can just birth that out of themselves. But when it comes to… my original area of study was development. And with writing code I can sit there and even though I’m not as in practice as I used to be, it was much easier for me to find a little issues in the code that were causing problems that it was for me to come out with a nice design for something. So I tended to focus more on writing code when I was younger because that seemed to be something that was more… just natural came natural to me.

With the camera, I tend to be able to really control the camera well and get the exposure that I’m looking for and get the shot that I’m looking for really fast. I’ve noticed that I do really seem to have that under control. And even in situations where I feel like I don’t and it’s a new situation and I feel like I don’t have it altogether, I still am able to work through that and get past it because I try, I don’t just walk away from that situation. With my YouTube channels, I continue to try, and even though I have some videos that are total failures, maybe even videos that I put up and then realize later, oh, my information wasn’t totally correct in those videos. That you have to try, you have to do your best. And sometimes, when I’ve put up videos where something wasn’t totally correct, it’s a good opportunity for me to take that down to correct, to learn where I made my mistake.

Maybe I was in a hurry, maybe I didn’t totally understand what I thought I understood. But you have to not be afraid to take those risks. And that’s going to happen to everybody. I mean, everybody that does anything and puts it out there is going to be tested and that’s what’s scary to some of us. But as long as you can continue to move past that and continue to test and refine and not be afraid to fail because you’re not afraid to try, I think that you’ll always be able to create. And so that’s what I wanted to leave all of you with today, whether you’re watching this on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram or listening to the podcast or reading it in my blog. I hope that it was somewhat inspiring to you. I know sometimes I talk about topics and I feel like I’m just… I can go in a thousand different directions.

But this really comes from my heart because I do believe that as long as I can remember these things, as long as I can step back and say, “Okay, like where’s the breakdown? Am I not being true? Am I not a speaking from my heart or something that I’m passionate about? That’s, that’s maybe a breakdown in my creativity. Am I not being a practitioner at the time.” I mean, there are times when I want to make a video, but yeah. Have I been a practitioner lately? Am I in what I’m wanting to talk about? Am I all in on it? Do I have recent experience there? If I’m not being a practitioner in the moment, sometimes that breaks down my creativity and I have a hard time being creative. I’m I researching? I’m I asking questions? Even if it’s just asking questions to myself, am I challenging myself? I’m I digging deeper?

If I’m not, that’s a breakdown, potential breakdown in my creative process. Am I testing? Am I trying new things? Am I going back to old things and refining them, trying to see what works, what didn’t work so that I can make the next thing more refined? Am I doing that? If I’m not, then maybe that’s a breakdown in my creative process. Am I being afraid to try something new? Am I being afraid to fail? Because if I am, maybe that’s a breakdown in my creative process.

So I hope that these things helped you out. Leave a comment below this video or podcast or the blog and let me know what you think. I would love to hear where your breakdowns are, what hurts you in your creative process, and what tends to help you in your creative process. I’d love to hear it because I can grow from that as well as I hope that you grow from the things that I’ve shared today. So that’s going to do it for this video, this episode. I hope to see you back in the next one. Take care.

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On Working for Others

Melancholy Jerad Hill

Melancholy Jerad HillNobody tells you that when you go into business for yourself, you will still have a boss. The allure of being able to set your own hours and work in your pajamas just isn’t true for the majority. There have been days I have worked from home and in my pajamas but that only happens maybe a couple of times each year. I only mention this because this is the misconception most people have for the self employed. Being a creative, this misconception is placed upon me even more. Before I get into this, let me say this: I love being self employed. Though I yearn for stability of a regular paycheck at times, being self employed is very fulfilling. I honestly do not know if I could go to work for someone else without having complete creative control like I do with my own business.

Here is what most people do not realize about self employed. We have bosses. Our bosses are our clients. The clients who hire us to do work, have expectations like a boss does. They want the work completed to perfection and under budget if possible. The key phrase here is, “the client has expectations.” There is nothing wrong with expectations. Expectations are there to serve as an understanding. Just as in marriage, my wife has expectations of what my role is and I of her. Those of you who have worked for someone else have probably been in a situation where you were forced to do work a certain way that contradicts the way you would have preferred to do it. What I am saying is that you know of a better way, yet you are forced to do it the way your boss wants it done. This could relate to many things such as the steps you take to get to a certain result or even the fact that you are doing the task at all. I am not saying that my clients tell me how work needs to be done, but they all have their own ideas of what they want. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

What I find almost laughable is how exact most of my clients are on what they want even though they don’t really understand what it is. They know just about every detail of how they want something to look or function, almost to the point that I wonder why they don’t just do it themselves. There is nothing wrong with this as we live in an information age where most of us can research just about anything. In this way, I am no different than my clients. The issue is that most people have no idea what they need, they just saw something, and it made sense to them, so what they saw is what they feel they need. I hope that makes sense because I am writing out of a slightly frustrated state.

Here is an example: A client explains a feature they want to have on their website. They explain to me the intended result of what this feature needs to achieve. At this point, I have a solid understanding of what they want to achieve and in my head I have formulated a process in which to make it happen. This is where as the hired creative, I should be left to do what I do best. However, the client saw how this worked on another website that doesn’t do what he does but for some reason their widget made them feel a certain way, so he studied it for hours until he had convinced himself that it was exactly what he needed. The client then details exactly how they want this to work. Processes that I had just formulated in my head start conflicting with what the client originally told me he wanted to achieve. It is starting to sound like the client does not really understand what he wants. He knows the result of what he wants, but everything in between is kind of messed up.

This is where I as a creative, and someone who genuinely cares about his clients desires, always interject with my thoughts and begin the process of explaining to my client why this widget he saw on another website won’t work for his situation. In rare instances a client will feel enlightened and will realize that my solution is what they need. In most cases the client has already made up his or her mind and can not be swayed.

My problem is this: I am not the type of person that will do work for someone that I know is not going to achieve their original goal. Sure I could probably make a lot more money this way but I know that when the work was done, and it did not function the way the client envisioned it working, the blame would be put on me for giving the client exactly what they asked for. It’s human nature. If everybody got everything they asked for and it worked, why would we need professionals in any field. WebMD would be enough for us to self diagnose all of our ailments and we could just go down to the pharmacy and get all the drugs we needed to cure all of the diseases we most likely don’t have. That and we all would probably die. Of course I realize that I am not saving lives here, but I am trying to save my clients money. This is where just about 80% of the time, my job goes thankless.

Clients love to assume that everything was their idea to begin with. When you put in the extra work to make it great or make suggestions that will improve the process, it doesn’t really matter because it was the clients idea to begin with. Thankfully I did not go into business to be showered in admiration. Even my clients whose business has increased year over year due to the additional exposure my work has gotten them do not think about me when they look at their bank account balances. That is not why I got into working for myself. The 80/20 rule applies here just like it does with most things. 80% of the joy you get out of doing good work will come from 20% (or less) of those people.

As a creative speaking on behalf of all creatives, you can’t let this get you down. I listen to what my clients need and then I make suggestions regardless of their desire for my input. I know for a fact that I have lost business because I told a client they needed something else. People are stubborn and are going to spend their money on what they already decided upon. This is where ethics comes into play.

I cannot ethically take money from people who I can see are just going to throw it away on the wrong idea. I know that someone else will, but I do my best to look into what they are trying to do and help direct them into a better solution for their problem. Because of this, I have been told that I don’t know what I am talking about and once was told I was arrogant and should “know the facts” before making suggestions about something I don’t know anything about. I am fine with losing that kind of business. Life is too short to have to work for or with those kind of people. There is a special kind of geek out there that doesn’t mind working for a dictator. That geek can have his money. Maybe I am wrong. I would love to see them succeed and I hope they return to throw their success in my face. I would be genuinely happy for them.

This year I have dealt with what seems like 10 times the amount of people who have wanted something only for me to find out that what they needed is something else. I have no problem with this situation. The problem lies in the fact that these days people don’t want to hear it. They have emotionally invested so much of their time into something because their competitor did it this way and “appeared” successful at it or they read some article on a tech website that said it was a “must have.” Because of that emotional connection they have, if someone suggests something different or even asks a question to help better understand why they want that solution, they get upset. What always confuses me is that they say they came to me because they wanted a “professional” to handle it for them.

When it comes to my own decision making process, I often am the same as my clients. I want something a certain way because I researched it and decided that I wanted it that way. Because of the time I invested in researching the idea, I am willing to do what it takes to make it happen. When I hire someone to do the work, I expect exactly what I asked for. The difference between me and many of the people I come in contact with is that I recognize that when it does not work the way I thought it would, I accept fault for making the wrong decision. I do not blame the failure of my decision on someone else. I recognize that my idea was not the best solution for the problem and corrections are made from there. What happens in most cases is that the client can not see what made their idea fail, so it must be the fault of the creative or developer. They either give up on their idea or take all of the ideas I suggested along the way, and go to a competitor of mine. I just had two professional services providers take the exact work I created on their behalf to a competitor of mine. I gladly handed over the work because if a client can not see the value in what was created it is not long until they will create the same kind of problems for the next person they work with. What am I saying, they obviously saw the value in the content because they continued to use it after leaving for a competitor. Life is too short to deal with people like that.

No relationship is ever going to be perfect. I know that from just about every experience I have had on this planet in my 34 years. I do not expect clients to sing my praises and shower me with accolades. I do not feel like I am a superhero who leaps tall buildings in a single bound, nor do I want to feel that way. I guess the whole reason for writing this post is just to vent. Sometimes as a person who creates, whether you work for someone else, or you work for yourself, you need to vent about it. No better place to do that than publically, right?

If you are a creative who works for him/herself or are one of many creatives at a company who performs services for clients, don’t let this discourage you. Even having the ability to work in an industry where there is such a wide variety of options and technology is a blessing. Our industry moves so fast that it is almost impossible to get bored. We live in a communal world where we have to interact with each other. Nothing is going to change there. I am just thankful that I get to learn so much about what other people do and despite the fact that I don’t always get to implement my suggested solutions, it’s still cool to see what people are doing and are passionate about.

If you are a client of a creative, especially one of my clients, and you are reading this; don’t worry. I don’t loathe working with you and please do not assume that you are a dictator because I said the word dictator once in this post. We all have frustrations with things. I spent an hour complaining about the latest iPhone’s camera the other day. Nothing is perfect and I don’t think any of us ever seek perfection, we just want our needs understood. From that, a solution that works should be developed and delivered. That is what my goal is, to understand my clients and deliver on their needs as best I can. Confusion and conflict will never go away, but if we listen to and understand each other, it makes for a much better relationship. All I ask is that you be open to suggestions. You might know how to drive the car, but you didn’t build it.

So, for those of you who have the misconception that working for yourself means total freedom from the mundane, and that all of our self employed days are filled with trips to Starbucks only to return to our couch where we will sit comfortably with our laptop and favorite Netflix shows, I hope that this post has enlightened you. Working for yourself is great, and sure it’s rewarding, but in the same way that having kids is rewarding. It’s hard work and sometimes you want to yell and scream, but when you look back on years of time invested, you can say that you were in at least 20% control.

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There Are Those Days As A Creative, I Want To Quit!

The audio this video is set to has re-inspired me countless times when I find myself back in that “Gap” that Ira Glass explains so well as a place where our expectations for our work is not aligning with our taste. Though the Gap has closed to become more of a crack for me, on occasion I do find myself tripping over it.

I think that all creatives can relate. We are our own harshest critics.

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