The Pros and Cons of Creating Everyday

Pros and Cons of Creating Everyday

Like many, I create everyday. It’s not something I just have to do, lest my creative spirit explode. Creating everyday is a very intentional effort, something I know I’ve got to do to get where I want to go. Anytime you do the same thing everyday, you’re going to analyze that act constantly. You’ll see there’s both positives and negatives.

PRO: When you create everyday, you’re going to get better at what you do. Even if you have poor techniques or make the same mistakes over and over (which you obviously want to avoid), you’re going to improve much faster than if you weren’t creating everyday.

It takes about 10,000 hours of doing anything to become great at it (an expert that stands out above the rest). The sooner you reach 10,000 hours worth of practicing your craft, the better your career will be. Creating everyday helps you get there faster.

CON: Creating all the time can be enjoyable. But if you’re creating, you’re not doing something else. That means other things you value and enjoy will fall by the wayside. For me that means I read less (barely at all now), and spend less time on outdoor activities. I don’t spend much time with friends, or binge watching the latest Netflix hits, either.

All of these would be really enjoyable, but they have to be sacrificed to make time for creating. It can feel a bit limiting if (as in my case) you work, write, sleep, repeat everyday.

PRO: Doing something everyday gives you the opportunity to make a difference everyday. At least, it does if you make your creations public. Should I write something positive or motivational, there’s always a chance to brighten someone’s spirit. Should I write on a lifehack, there’s the opportunity to improve someone’s routine. This goes a long way towards fulfillment!

CON: It’s never a stretch to feel like you keep working, keeping creating, and just aren’t getting anywhere. Were I to only sit down and create every, say, third day, there’s a chance I would feel better and better about my work each time. Not so when you’re doing it everyday. There’s not enough room for contrast or comparison.

It’s similar to exercising and losing weight. You can’t really tell a difference day to day, but if you look at it month over month, you see you’ve improved by leaps and bounds (hopefully). When you’re creating everyday, you’re often pressed for time and focus. You end up questioning whether this thing you’re creating is good enough for others to see. The rigmarole can be rather dispiriting.

All in all, the pros of growth and making a difference, in my opinion, outweigh the cons of toilsome sacrifice. In fact, the sacrifice and long hours might make the end results that much sweeter. If you’re a creative, or simply trying to improve at one thing or another, you need to be doing it everyday. It’s not always easy, but it does get easier. You will get better, and you’ll look back months down the road thankful that you stuck to it.

Want to Create Shareable Content That Converts?

Want to Create Shareable Content That Converts

I’m baffled. The world I spend my days in – that many of you spend your days in – is all about creating. Creating for ourselves, sure, but more importantly creating for others.

We write articles, take pictures, film videos, build works of art, run campaigns, all with the intent of providing value for others so that they’ll exchange whatever currency is relevant, be it shares, follows, referrals, or actual dollars. But what in the world is the recipe for creating something that will be deemed valuable every time?

There’s keyword audit tools, so that you can see what people are searching for (Googling) in your space, and then tailor content based on what people are searching for. In my experience, this is great for headlines, maybe a few bullet points, but really gives no indication of what people will enjoy enough to exchange their currency with you.

Headlines obviously work well for getting clicks, something catchy that instantly creates a bit of tension within the viewer. But headlines don’t dictate engagement, and certainly aren’t a great indicator of conversions. What converts?

You’ve got to create an emotion in viewers, but how? In what way? How do you create in such a way that the consumer can immediately connect with your work so that they want to share it? So that they want to post it on Facebook or email it to a coworker, saying “I can identify with this, and I want others to know about it.”

That’s the million dollar question! Some days I’ll create content that I feel is as good as flaming bullpoop, and it will take off. Other days, I’ll release a piece that I think is masterfully curated, and get nothing. Perhaps I’m just terrible at this! A great case study: My biggest hit on Kennetic Expression has been Want to Be Successful? Emulate the Most Boring Person You Know.

From drawing the first word to publishing, I spent maybe two hours on it. I thought it was garbage. But then people began clicking on it, and “liking” it, and sharing it, and telling me how much they identified with it. Within a few days, it had taken off (relatively).

When I sat down to write that piece, of course I intended to create something great. That’s what we all do! But I thought I’d failed miserably in that regard. Unintentionally, I created something that my audience could easily relate to. I could be abysmally wrong here, but in analyzing that piece, I think I know a few characteristics that helped it spread like wildfire.

The title starts with a question. Questions make people hesitate, however briefly, instead of scrolling on through the rest of their feed. It was also an obvious question. Everyone wants to be successful in their own way. Duh. But then the rest of the title is entirely unexpected. Typically, when you see a “Be Better” headline, it calls you to do something drastic or elaborate. This did the very opposite. It told you to be boring. Now people are curious.

Want to Be Successful? is a very short piece, maybe 400 words. It’s concise. I’m not having to fight for attention, because there’s barely enough time to get distracted. The article praises those who spend their free time honing their craft – whatever that craft might be. This is directly relatable for my target audience, other young professionals trying to get ahead in their careers and lives.

These same people have likely been given ridicule for being “boring.” In college, for instance, I was often referred to as a hermit because I’d disappear for days to study in my room or the library. This piece offered support in favor of their side of an argument they regularly have about why they don’t “get out much.”

I don’t know that there’s any secret sauce to creating shareable content, or content that converts a viewer into a customer. There’s so many variables for any piece and any audience. But people seem to engage better with content that creates a back-and-forth or discussion in their head after only seeing the title, something that piques their curiosity. And people seem to engage well with things they can relate to.

Something that gives them value for what they’re trying to do, like new information or resources to do X, while offering the comfort that their current goals, pains, or situations are okay – even good! People naturally want to improve, and they instinctively search for things they can identify with. Shareable content that converts builds around want people naturally want.

Why Every Creative Needs to Intentionally Consume

Why Every Creative Needs to Intentionally Consume

Over the last month, I’ve been writing and posting everyday. It’s one of the steps I believe I have to take in order to reach my goals. During this, I’ve learned something that I honestly didn’t believe to be true.

Every creative needs to consume as much as (if not more than) they create. And here’s why I say that.

Before I started writing heavily (which would have been early December), I knew that every creative needed to consume in order to create. You have to put good in to get get good out.

If inspiration is taking what you know and have experienced, and queuing all of that into something tangible, then obviously you have to consume something in order to create anything. What I didn’t realize was how much consumption it actually takes to have enough ideas and thoughts and epiphanies to draw from so that you have enough with which to create.

I’ve been writing and posting everyday throughout the last month. I thought my largest hurtle was going to be disciplining myself enough to find time everyday around my day job. That part’s been relatively easy. The hard part has been coming up with something to write about everyday. And I’m 100% confident it’s because I’m not consuming enough.

Last year, my goal was to read a book a week for the whole year. It was great! I was consuming so much enjoyable, educational material that the only problem I had was finding time to write about all of my (subjectively) great ideas. Now the situation’s reversed, and I’m always struggling to come up with ideas!

I know I’m not the only one going through something like this. This has to be a common obstacle for creatives. But I think the solution is surprisingly simple. Do less in order to do more.

Spend less time trying to create, and more time building your pool of ideas. In my experience, I need to spend at least as much time consuming as I do creating just so I have fresh ideas when I sit down to write. I’m confident this will help you, too. Set aside intentional time to consume, so that you’ll be a better creator.

Starting a Creative Side Project? Expect This

What to Expect Starting Creative Side Project

If you’re thinking about starting a side project of any kind (or already have), you clearly have a bit of entrepreneurial spirit in you. Awesome! That means you’re okay with taking risks and doing extra. I applaud you.

Thankfully, most side projects these days flex people’s creative side. That means whatever you’re doing is probably (relatively) cheap to get into. Like blogging or painting, for example. The only cost is a few bucks for a website or materials, and your time.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a side project of my own. It started out as a commitment to write everyday, and it’s turned into something a bit bigger (hopefully it will continue to grow). I’m still struggling at the whole monetization part, though. It’s a work in progress, but I’ll get there. I’ll figure it out. That’s all a part of the process!

As February was beginning, I realized I needed to pick up my game. It wasn’t enough to just be writing everyday. I also needed to be publishing everyday. That means, in addition to writing, I needed to be editing, distributing, and writing a little more.

I love this work I’m doing on the side, and I will always encourage others to do something similar. But if you’re starting a creative side project, I want you to understand something.

I’m tired. I’m exhausted, really. I’m lucky enough (and thankful for it) that both my day job at Text Request and personal work are fulfilling. But it’s still a lot to do. If you’re starting a creative side project, you’re going to have a lot to do. Today’s a good example of what to expect, and I know other creatives will relate to this.

As I’m drafting this post, it’s Monday. I spent five hours or so on both Saturday and Sunday writing, editing, etc. The weekend was restful, but it wasn’t a break. This morning I started work on Kennetic Expression a little before 7am. At 8am I started working on Text Request related tasks. I left the office a little after 6pm. It’s currently 9:29pm. I started writing this post at 9pm. It will be 10:30pm before I put the pen and computer down to get ready for bed.

That’s average. Not just for me, but for every person trying to grow their skills and build a life around specifically what they want to do. If you’re starting a creative side project – if it’s something you’re going to actively work on – it’s going to be a time-consuming commitment. You’ll love every painful minute, but it will take up a lot of minutes.

That’s what I want you to expect. That you’ll be a lot more tired at the end of everyday, but that you won’t know a better feeling. It’s the creative equivalent of a runner’s high.

I gave you a basic day-in-the-life example of myself. Add weekends, and I’m looking at a 70-hour work week, significantly unpaid. That’s average. And to be honest, it’s a really cool world to be a part of. There’s tens of thousands of us losing sleep and foregoing awesome events to work on our craft so that we’ll one day be something great ourselves!

If you’re starting a creative side project – which I highly recommend – expect it to take a lot out of you. Expect it to become more than just a casual hobby. Expect to join a community of vibrant creatives all sharing ideas and helping each other grow. Expect it to be one of the most simultaneously exhausting and rewarding things you’ve ever done.

Creating Your Best Work

Creating Your Best Work

There’s a piece of advice that I keep coming across again and again. it applies to anyone with a creative side, but it always leaves me befuddled. That piece of advice goes like this.

People will often encourage you to create what you know. Don’t do that. Create what you like. Paint the picture you want to see. Write the book you want to read. Make the film you want to watch…

This advice comes up often (seemingly) as a cry to actually create rather than just copy what you see others doing. If you create what you’d like to see created, it will be something new or different. If you create something you know, you’ll effectively be spitting out the same art you take in. Or so the theory goes.

I have a hard time figuring out what this piece of advice means for me – for anyone, really. Usually if I come across a piece of advice and I can’t make sense of it, I just leave it. I forget about it. But this tidbit has come up time and time again in my reading. Either it’s really good, or the people saying it aren’t applying it to themselves.

I know what I write and create could be more interesting. It could be better. By intentionally sitting down to write everyday, am I not inevitably creating what I’d like to create? Or does the frequency actually cause the inverse? Do I end up writing just what I know in an attempt to get things done, rather than waiting for creative inspiration to strike?

It genuinely confuses me. I don’t have an answer, or even a concise response! I’ve read various elaborations on the point, but few seem to clearly define the difference. Maybe that says something about me? Maybe I should pay attention to my misunderstanding and contemplation – maybe create from that instead. That would would be following the advice, right? Creating something for me instead of creating per advice? Would the right thing to do, then, be to neglect all the advice and do what I want? Do you see how this gets confusing?

We all naturally create what we already know. We can’t exactly pull from any other sources. Isn’t creating what we like the same thing as selectively creating what we know?

I think I get the point of it. Create whatever you want to create and you’ll get the most out of yourself. But there’s also cases everyday where so-and-so artist or creative does some kind of copycat, uninspired work to pay the bills and build a foundation for growth. Bills are pretty important! A foundation is necessary for any skyscraper!

It’s confusing. What should I – what should we as a creative community actually create? What are the artistic needs that we should provide? Where are the creative voids it’s our duty to fill?

If you’ve made it this far, please comment, give your feedback, share on your social sites and blogs. I want to start a discussion. I want to hear from you!

As creatives, we have to create. It’s like oxygen for us! How can we do that in such a way that we make our best work and serve a need or fill a hole? I think that only by combining these two pieces will anything we create matter. How do we do that?

This is What “Inspiration” Means for the Professional Creative

What Inspiration Means Professional Creative Kennetic Expression

What is inspiration? Where does it come from? Where does it go? (Where does it come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?)

Inspiration is a fickle thing. It’s so fleeting! It’s also difficult to define. Is it an overwhelming emotion? Is it a state of flow? What is it that compels the artist or writer or musician or activist to create and move others? How does it instill such passion? Let’s burst a few bubbles. Shall we?

If you are someone looking for inspiration, stop. If you only create when you feel inspired, you’re not a Creative at all. Inspiration, or lack thereof, is a scapegoat used by the lazy and the amateurs. Inspiration is a crock. Let’s elaborate.

I have a goal. Many do. My goal is to become a successful writer. One step I’m taking to get there is to write 2+ pages (~600+ words) each day. It’s not a golden ticket, but it’s a start. Whether I feel like it or not, every evening and most mornings I write – on something. Most days I’m worn out from other things going on, but I make time for it because it’s my goal to become great at this. That’s what you could call my “inspiration,” the desire to be great. Many others go through this same experience everyday.

If you think we only create when we feel particularly inspired, you’re wrong. I’m writing this piece specifically because I don’t feel inspired at all! In fact, most (if not all) successful creatives will say they worked on their craft even when they didn’t particularly feel like it. And they would strongly encourage others to do the same.

William Faulkner is credited with this beauty. “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” To be perfectly clear, he’s saying that creative inspiration is the act of, and commitment to, constantly working at your craft. Or rather, that inspiration does not exist in the way commonly thought of by dreamers.

What you know – what you’ve seen, what you’ve experienced, what you’ve heard, what you’ve learned all come together to help form your “inspiration.” You see a gorgeous sunset. It evokes a whirlwind of emotion deep within, and you’ve got to create. What you’re able to create from that is based on your experiences. It’s material you’ve gathered throughout your life, restructured and repurposed. The sunset is just a cue.

A Creative is one who’s had enough relevant experiences and has practiced their craft enough so that everything becomes a cue. “Inspiration” is always a blink away. Inspiration is not a dreamy, ethereal state of creative genius, but rather a focussing of thoughts and reactions into something artful in which others can find value. Inspiration for the professional creative is not an emotion or fleeting state, but an intentional act.

Are you committed to creating, or do you use “inspiration” as a crutch?