Approaching Creative Work: Beginner's Mindset
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. Your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.
Ira Glass illustrates what he calls ""The Gap" in a creative's work and mindset in the following quote:
"All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you... You gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions."
This generally sparked the idea of how approaching our creative work with a beginners mindset can be beneficial. It's been brewing in my mind for a while now but it was only recently that I began to contemplate on it again.
Once you’ve alleviated fear, you enter a whole new realm of creativity.
For some of us who have been around the creative industry for a while, working our way as team members or freelancers, we know from experience that complacency is a deadly trap. We fall into lines of comfort and we fall into boredom: forgetting the thrill and the excitement of producing work and ideas that we used to obsessed over. In turn, our creativity becomes stagnant, and not long after, follows the doubts that creep into our mind.
I never quite understood it when Kleon quoted C.S. Lewis: "It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can. The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him (pupil) to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago that he has forgotten."
But now looking back, I realize the importance of being the student (in this case, an amateur) in the creative field. As we grow within our craft, we tend to forget, to be accustomed and to fall back into routines. But approaching it in a different light would push us to dive into unknown territories. In this case, we set our mindset to become an amateur once again. No matter how much we fear things we can't see nor predict, it becomes overshadowed by the mere fact of re-evaluating our craft and seeing it from a new perspective. Everything suddenly seems a thousand times more exciting. When this is set into motion we enter a new realm of creativity, as Minnie Small aptly words it.
Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.
By approaching our creative work with a beginner's mindset, we find our way back to falling in love with the process more so than worrying about the end result or the audience of our work. It is when we commit to the method and the daily practice that we reignite that spark of excitement within our craft.
Here's a comprehensive list of how I remember feeling when I was just starting to delve into the art field:
- Being fearless in exploring new things.
- Being open-minded to different techniques, tools, and methods.
- Embracing mistakes and learning from them.
- Free from self-doubt. (There were no external pressure nor expectations.)
- Working for my own pleasure and not for the pleasure of others.
- Being unbound from the fear of failure.
- Re-ignites excitement in the work and process.
- Allowing to be deeply connected to creativity so that it flows endlessly.
- Becoming inspired at every turn.
- Looking forward to doing things and finding it to be easily motivated.
These are the things we slowly lose in the whirlwind of the industry. In turn, we work hard to get back on track and sought out that feeling of passion, overwhelming nirvana and acquired curiosity that we first had when we were just starting with our craft.
Little by little, I found that all these started to re-apply when I began to approach my work in a fresh perspective. It was enlightening to experience the joy of rediscovering the curiosity and excitement of your work and process.
With that in mind, do you somehow see yourself in any of these aspects when you were just beginning your creative journey? If you start to look at things differently, how much light and creativity will flow back into your work and process? Will it bring back the same feelings and creative process?
The path to re-establishing that connection to your work and seeing it in a different light is by a slight of change to your mindset. The spark comes from within you to reignite that creative flame.