I used to measure the success of social interactions based on how happy the other person was. If I offended someone, I “failed.” But judgment is just a reflection of someone’s insecurities—not my problem. While I now know that good relationships don’t depend on agreement, but on both parties contributing to the “us box”, I still find myself agreeing with people to keep the peace. It feels fake. So instead of measuring outcomes, which I can’t control, I am going to start measuring my actions.
You have more ideas than you realize. All it takes is to pay attention. Often I get so caught up in my thoughts that I don’t even notice what I’m thinking about. But when I am mindful, I can catch ideas before they leave.
When looking for a book to read the other day, I caught myself choosing based on how strongly I agreed with each premise. I hardly considered the writing or the research, or what I might learn by reading each book. I was falling victim to conformation bias.
We must seek different perspectives from our own. Many of our beliefs aren’t even ours—we inherited them from our parents, our teachers, our peers. When we question a belief, though, we either discover an error and adjust, or we find that a belief withstands questioning, and it becomes our own.
Nobody wants to learn the basics. We want the get-skilled-quick solution. But when trying to create something profound, too many novices stretch beyond their abilities and create amateur work .
I know this from experience.
North American media bombards us with slogans such as “break the rules” and “find your own path.” Demoralizing advertising tells us that we are not enough, so we accept these vague directives without considering what actually constitutes uniqueness. We then look for the easy fix—buy products that promise personality —and we end up where we started, yearning to become more ourselves.
You are unique. You don’t need to broadcast you character. In fact, silent confidence cuts through the noise better than more noise. That said, breaking conventions can be liberating in art and self expression. So the question remains: which conventions are worth breaking?
Writers read. Otherwise, words become trapped. You reach for them as they lie slumbering, mired in mental sludge. But when you read, words become alive, buzzing with enough energy to dislodge from the muck. They flow from your pen, seeming to originate from outside of you, and you write with more insight than ever before.
Some authors think that great ideas do not originate from us, but from muses—spirits from Greek and Roman mythology that love nothing more than to bring great art into the world through humans. However, these muses only help those who consistently work to better their technique, so that when inspiration strikes, they can execute their ideas to the best of their abilities.
Will you be ready when your muse comes calling?
Two months ago, creative minds had the same idea about creation: action is better than theory. Within two weeks, YouTubers Peter McKinnon, Vlog Brothers, and Cody Wanner published videos encouraging people to “just do it.” Work on your projects every day and you will improve. But how does theory fit in?
In light of creating this blog and starting a YouTube channel, I set out some rules for myself so that my online activities do not dominate my life. You may also find them useful.
Note: I use the term “artist” to refer to anyone who regularly engages in the act of creation—especially those who share their work online—whether through writing, music, vlogging or running a business. Feel free to adapt this to suit your medium.
There is always going to be someone better or worse than you at a given pursuit. Someone is always going to learn faster or slower than you, be stronger or weaker than you, and work harder or slack off more than you.
On the bus I saw an ad for a vintage clothing store that read “Where originals originate.” I wanted to be just as cool as the models oozing confidence and style, but something about the slogan seemed off. How could buying some clothes transform an average person into an original one?
Pop sucks. Rap is trash. The blues is dead. Classical is overrated. . . If we believed this constant barrage of genre-hate, no music would be worth listening to.
Some people believe that the only songs worth listening to are the ones they like. What they do not realize is that everyone’s experience of music is subjective. There is no ‘best’ genre.
The difference between taste and quality is best explored with a metaphor. I’ll use clothing, as preference for what we wear is just as individual as what we listen to.