When it comes to achieving creative goals, there are helpful hints but no secrets. If you want to become a writer, write. If you want to become a painter, paint. It's that simple.
For various reasons, I have a tendency to make the artistic process complex.
I sit down and know I want to create some art. But what medium? What subject matter? How should I render it?
Accompanying these questions is my desire for everything I produce to be perfect. It's a hard way to begin -- knowing that you can't make a mistake or fail.
All of these phenomena feed together to form a maelstrom and it causes me to feel overwhelmed and when I feel overwhelmed I simply shut down. Nothing gets done.
To combat this, I try to remove decisions and judgments from the equation.
It started eleven years ago when I moved to Sacramento after graduating from college. Every evening at 10pm I would turn the radio on and listen to Loveline with Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew. Routines are effective.
My goal each night was simple. I had to either complete a drawing in my sketchbook or write 500 words that formed some semblance of a scene or short-short story. The story didn't have to make sense. I didn't ever have to look at the drawing again. When the goal is straightforward -- to simply have something by the end of two hours and to do it every evening -- it made things less precious. It was about completing the task. Personal criticism was eliminated. I actually got things done.
Recently, I have found my creative output to be random and haphazard. My intent is earnest. But as soon as I sit down at the drafting table I find myself feeling overwhelmed. I shut down. The blank paper remains blank.
I want to be artistically prolific. I want to create beautiful things.
I had to get locked back into that evening routine that proved successful in the past. Once again, I found my savior on the radio. The local station, 94.9 FM, has a program that airs every night from 10pm to 2am. It's called Big Sonic Chill. It's pitch perfect as it provides a laid-back, eclectic mix of songs that establish an ideal mood and ambience. You can check out a recent playlist by clicking on this link. Not only has it provided a great atmosphere and established a disciplined routine, but it also lets me discover new music (for example -- I'm infatuated with Sia's song, Breathe Me).
Every evening my pen has been moving and it feels good.