J.K Rowling: I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
This simple idea is more powerful than any of us can imagine without putting it into context. So many artists and wanna be artists picture only the results of success, the author who has made a brand worth billions, the Oscar-winning actor who smiles out from billboards or the visual artist with a solo show at MOMA or LACMA. But we fail to realize that success is the direct result of freedom from a fear of failure.
Is your greatest fear living out of a car (like J.K. Rowling)? Is it working a minimum wage job twenty hours a week? Are you afraid of your student debt? Or a rejection letter?
The next step is reassessing those fears. Are they irrational?
Do you simultaneously fear losing your home and dream of living in a Volkswagon van, like those hipsters on Instagram? Could a job at Starbucks actually be a gift? When I worked in a cafe, I had twenty hour weeks, zero responsibility the second I walked out the door, and was able to finish multiple scripts and travel to Mexico for months at time.
Student debt holding you back? This an irrational, baseless fears. 70% of Americans graduate with debt. Stop thinking about the grand total, start focusing on the monthly payemnts.
Rejection letters? Kerouac couldn’t get On The Road published for seven years after it was written.
Write down a list of your 5 worse fears. Make them concrete. Now think of the worst case scenario if your fears came to pass. Time to take the hot air out of your greatest fears and free your mind to its natural creativity.
Vladimir Nabokov: That trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills. My characters are galley slaves.
Okay, so drawing analogies between the watercolor landscapes you’ve been retouching all year and galley slaves, who will spill sweat to row you across the sea might be a bit extreme. But the lesson here should be obvious. To be a creative you have to believe your output, the actual product you make, is of real monetary value. Don’t just say you’re worth it, be worth it. Know your value.
Daily task: Research the going rates. Find out the output required to achieve your goals.
Are you a travel photographer? What does your favorite magazine pay to publish a photo spread? Is it more or less than your last trip to the Greek Islands?
Do you want to write for the New Yorker? How many articles or stories would you have to publish a year to make viable living?
Stop sending work into the void and find out who pays what, before you waste your time. Next, do the math: at 200 bucks an article, you would need to publish 250 times a year. At a thousand bucks a piece, the number goes down to a manageable once a week with a two-week vacation. Now, ask yourself again, who’s paying a thousand bucks a piece?
Refuse to undervalue your work.
Hesiod: It is best to work, at whatever you have a talent for doing, without turning your greedy thought toward what some other (wo)man possesses, but take care of your own livelihood, as I advise you.
This is a classic idea, literally and figuratively. Everyone has bitten off more than they could chew at some point. Hesiod, scribe of the ancient Greek epics, is telling us the obvious: stick with what you know. So what if your best friend’s wife’s cousin has ten million views on her beauty vlogs? If you’re a writer, use your time to write. If you’re a tennis player, practice your serve. If you’re a photographer, take more photos!
Practice makes perfect; Procrastination makes . . .
Write 3 affirmations of your own identity and talents in your journal. Make them count, because you will be coming back to these affirmations, over and over and over and over, ad infinitum.
I, Evan Jordan, am a writer.
I am a funny, intelligent and creative thinker.
I have perseverance, self-motivation and dedication to my work.
Ernest Hemingway: You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.
If you are a human being in the internet age, you may be suffering from burnout. One of the ways to get ahead tomorrow is to cut out early today. When you try and do too much, you end up cutting corners, multi-tasking and losing focus. Think of that time you went on Google to QUOTE-UNQUOTE research . . . (insert literally anything) and ended up looking at happy snaps of some tanned stranger.
Write down the 3 most important things you HAVE to do today. DO NOT allow yourself to do anything else at work. If you finish early, do yourself a favour and play hooky: take a nap, go for a walk/run or check out that new show you didn’t think you were going to have time to catch.
William Faulkner: Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.
Because you probably just read the intro, we’re going to skip the niceties and chit-chat on our first day together and get straight to the work of becoming the creative person we all long to be.
Write a top 5 list of your lifelong dreams. If you’re having trouble getting past 3, push on grasshopper. Next take your runner-up dreams, 2 through 5, and throw them out the window. Actually, cross them off the page. Now that you can clearly see your first creative priority, ask yourself what simple task: write an email, make a phone call, buy a plane ticket, can you do TODAY to make my dream a reality?
Have you ever felt bored with life? Uninspired? Like you’re asleep at the wheel?
So have I. So has everybody.
It’s easy to get stuck in your habits. Checking your tweets and emails before you get your socks on. Scrolling through Instagram and Snapchat on the toilet. Listening to podcasts in the shower and watching Youtube on the daily commute.
As you read this blog, you’ll learn how to drop your bad habits like your stage-5 clinger ex-boyfriend, the one who DM’d you from the kitchen while you were in the bathroom. Through a series of simple, easy-to-complete daily activities you’ll learn how to win the morning, enjoy yourself, and slowly take back your life from the databomb that is the internet and the clusterf*#k that is your everyday.
Just like life, this creative planner is a work in progress not a final product. If you comment and let me know how to improve, like which days are you struggling to get past?And, please, tell me how the quotes and activities have helped you take back your creativity, I’ll listen.