My Lessons Learned In A Creative Career

They say you teach best what you most need to learn. Isn’t it weird then, that subject matter experts are considered to be the best teachers?

We hire them so they can get even better. But jokes aside, spending all this time investigating creativity, sharing what I have learned and thinking about how all the myriad parts of the puzzle fit together into some uber, unified theory of life the universe and everything, is having a profound impact on my own creativity.

Traditionally, I have been a Pavlov’s Dog kind of creative: Same thing, same time every day and it becomes almost an automated process to start being creative (no matter the project).

But now I have realised 3 things:

  1. I have spent so long spending more than 20% of each day busy with writing, I don’t need the Pavlov’s Dog effect… I can turn it on anytime.
  2. BUT I do need to keep topping up my reserves of information, insights, new examples, experience.
  3. I spent way too long going at it totally solo. I do not have a prominent promoter (I have always been that to myself… weird!), I do not have any serious collaborators and I always avoided the idea of a master teacher… rather teaching myself through doing/observing.

These realisations have got me thinking about the amount of disappointment that I have experienced in my career. I am sure it’s no more than most, but of course, it stings. I am realising that my stubborn refusal to play well with others, to keep myself as far outside of all boxes ad humanly possible, has quite possibly created a distance between my creative output and reality. Simply put, I have meandered too far off the path for much of what I have produced to make sense.

Now before you comment on how vainglorious that sounds, that’s not what I mean. I mean more that, when you have no-one around you to compare notes with, compete with, argue you, you have no checks and balances. You are just out there, alone. And creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It requires an audience, a community, interaction.

Professionally, I have done the same thing. As a band manager, I always took on the acts that lay a little bit further away from what might be considered mainstream. As a journalist, I always wanted to write about the things that were a little bit further away from the core readership interests, I was always freelance, never interacted with the publication’s staff. As a marketer, I was always so confident of the inherent value of what I was marketing, that I never really worried too much about form, believing solely in the content.

It’s amazing how a few books can change ideas so fast. Presenting workshops and talks on creativity has certainly forced me to re-look HOW I do a lot of what I have done and still do.

Music is such an obvious exception: I have always worked with collaborators there because I know I am really not all that good… But lessons? A promoter? Hell no!
I wonder if I change those things, is it too late to become a Rockstar?
I mean, that was my first ever career choice after all!

Leave a Reply