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« When Tragedy Is in the News: How to Respond as a Musician | Main | The Most Underrated Things in a Musician’s Career »
Wednesday
Apr172013

Are You Serious About Your Creative Work?

serious catSeriously. Do you give your best to your art?

Maybe you do creative work for yourself, maybe you do it for others. Maybe it’s a mix of the two. In any case, whatever you’re up to, if you’re not serious about it, it probably won’t amount to a hill of beans.

Sound a bit harsh?

Yes, it is. Go ahead, test it yourself. See if you end up playing Nickelback covers at weddings, or scribbling half-baked sonnets after an awesome night of PBRs. See if you find yourself hanging out at Starbucks talking to no one in particular about the novel you haven’t started yet.

Not the prettiest sight.

But there’s hope.

*

“Invest yourself in everything you do. There’s fun in being serious.” —Wynton Marsalis

*

creative garden That’s right, being “serious” doesn’t mean being sullen or humorless. It means seeking to prioritize, to nurture. When you are serious about your creative work, you place it before other things. You tend to it.

You give it your best and it grows. And that’s fun.

Maybe you’re serious about your regular job, and think of your art as an escape. Maybe your creative work serves an an outlet for your persistent thoughts or bottled-up emotions. Maybe it’s a refuge from the day-to-day. But if you have something to say, something you haven’t expressed yet, you could be selling your creative work short if you relegate it to the humble purpose of blowing off steam — sandwiched between days spent, it so happens, doing work that has little or nothing to do with your art.

Do you want to have fun or not?

Then get serious.

Getting Serious with a Creative Plan

You’re busy, you say? Well, you had time last night to watch back-to-back reruns of How I Met Your Mother, so you probably have a few minutes to come up with a creative plan. A few post-it notes for your workspace:

creative post-it

Post-it #1: Respect the clock. Use your time wisely.

Post-it #2: Banish rationalization. You always have a moment for something important.

Post-it #3: If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong. Your playful self is your creative self.

Set a schedule. Stick to it. You don’t need to produce something brilliant or enduring every Thursday night at 8:00. You don’t really need to produce anything at all. You just need to be there, thinking and working and seeing the possibilities. As you recognize those possibilities, they will return to you again and again to continue the conversation. You’ll come to take them seriously.

And the more serious you get, the more fun you’ll have.

Mark Doyon is principal and creative director of Wampus Multimedia, a record label, publishing imprint, and creative branding agency based in the Washington, D.C. area.

 

Reader Comments (5)

This is a brilliant article, thanks for the tips!
Creativity isn't really taken seriously enough, and I know myself I sometimes forget it in the pursuit of something less important but seemingly significant. I love sticky notes - I'm gonna use them!
Thanks again :D

April 17 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Berkeley

Most people do not realize that building a career in a creative field takes passion, as much as it does time. they give up to soon, not putting the time in, or taking the chances because they are afraid of the failures and would rather settle for a safer feeling of mediocracy.

Great post.

April 17 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Weis

I used to complain that I did not have enough time for my music or other side projects due to working 50+ hours a week. But, I decided to stop crying and do it. So now, when I take my breaks at work, I go to the car and work on songs on my acoustic in the back seat of my car, or I pull out my laptop and work on other things. I only take 15 mins to eat lunch, the other 45 is spent in the backseat again writing. I also decided I wouldn't die with an hour less sleep so I added an hour of working on projects before bed.

Doing this, I think I'm more productive now that I used to be when I only worked part time. It's interesting what a razor focus can do for you.

Nice post, thanks!

April 18 | Unregistered CommenterHeirToMadness

Songwriting is a craft, even if you have the passion... the more you take the effort to practice, learn & persist you will maximize your abilities. Some people can write poetry beautifully, while the majority need to learn the craft of composition, as well as just knowing how to compose poetry.. there is a great benefit to discipline & having the perseverance to keep at it. It is VERY beneficial to look at it as a job & to set goals & practice the effort!

I just got serious, and I'm definitely having fun!

November 21 | Registered CommenterSaesha Monet'

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