The magic, imitation, and creativity

what have you thought was “like magic” and then found out there’s no magic involved, but just knowledge, work, and intuition?

For me, cooking is one of them. Taking care of a baby is another one.

“After doing it myself, I realised there’s nothing magical about it at all. It’s amazing how these seemingly banal things can create something so beautiful together.” That was what I thought when I cook a dish from a cook box.

The cook box demystified cooking for me. It gave me confidence to cook stuff by myself.

I guess it’s easy to imitate, but creativity comes way, way after that.

Creativity would mean work, work, and work by yourself.

You have to know every ingredient as a cook. Like you know every key on a keyboard to be a pianist.

You can play a classic music piece, but composing by yourself is another story.

You can do it according to the recipe. Only knowledge and experience gives you the skill and sense to twist the recipe and makes it your own.

Magic is made that way.


Never forget your “why”

“We’ve come so far, that we forgot why we started in the first place.”

We have limited attention every day. People get easily distracted these days, but we are still good at getting fixated on something and forgetting everything else at the same time. Especially when we are frustrated if things in front of our eyes are not going our way.

But why we started is far more important than why is the bike not working properly. I mean, if you want to get somewhere, you can ride a bike, walk, drive a car, take a bus, train, plane… just get there. The more time you spend being frustrated about something that doesn’t really matter (because there’s another way to do it), the longer it’s going to take you back to your journey.

That’s why it’s always important to revisit your “why”.

My suggestion: setting a reoccurring event to revisit your why in your calendar. And set the reminder of the event as via email. You can do it how often you need it. I’m setting it every two weeks for now. And it works very well. I’m always reminded of my big why and it motivates me every time when I look at it.

Are you ready to go PRO?

Have you ever been lured into clicking the “Go Pro” or “Upgrade to Pro” or “Upgrade to Premium” button?

Why would you do that? It costs more for sure. Sometimes much more than the “free” version.

For services like wordpress, Hootsuite, and Canva, there’s a free version and different “pro” plans. If you are using the free version, you only have the basics. You don’t have many of the functions that might really make the products and services “worth the money”.

You can use them. But you are on the “free” plan. Which kinda make you “unserious” about what you do.

Because if you go pro, it’s serious. You will be able to use the services ads-free or unlock many other features, getting more cloud space… all the things a pro would need and do.

When is the time for you to go pro?

I’m not talking about you should buy all the pro plans for the services you are using. Just think about why you would do that in the first place.

Are you serious about what you are doing with them?

Are you sure you want to invest money in something that you are not sure if you want to commit to?

Being a pro is not about how you want to see yourself.

It is about what you do.

I can settle with the free plan with some services because I know I have been trapped in a yearly “pro” plan with them before. And I wasn’t able to commit to the use.

So how about you?

“Go pro” means to commit. With time, energy, emotion, and resources.

Don’t go pro easily with gadgets and software.

Go pro with your attitude with your craft first.

If you are a writer, are you ready to go pro with your writing? Taking on more responsibilities and no matter what you feel, but keeping writing?

If you are a photographer, are you ready to keep training your eyes, learning about the cameras, getting up early in the mornings to take pictures of the empty streets?

Are you ready to commit, and go pro?

Hobby, job, career, vocation

If your hobby is to cook, you are not a professional chef who works in a restaurant.

If your job is to cook, you are making money off doing it. But you don’t have to love it. If you don’t like it, you can change to another job.

If your career is to cook, your job is automatically cooking. Now you’d better love it. If not, you will suffer.

A career is a job you want to do again and again, better and better. For life.

What’s your vocation?

You don’t have to have a vocation. But if you do, you are so lucky.

Vocation is something you have to do not because you can make money out of it. It’s something you want to do because you love it. It’s the feeling you get when you do it. It’s the person you are being when you are doing it.

Vocation is something you do it just because you are less yourself if you don’t do it.

It’s something you just have to do it because you have no other choice. You do it no matter that.

It’s the love drama you have with the universe: you stick together with this one thing through sick and health, thick and thin.

It’s a commitment, needs no paper to make the bond official, no approval from others.

It’s private, and sacred.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a vocation.

Treasure yours.

Get your creativity a friend

An interesting friend.

You know how we all need interesting friend who can inspire us, instead of dragging us down?

“You can do it! You are doing it and you are improving. I’m proud of you!”

“You know this is what I do. This might be interesting to you.”

“Let’s talk about this concept that you are working on. I have a different approach…”

You want people who say this in your life.

What if I tell you that you need to give your creativity also a friend? A companion.

A companion that inspires your work.

Albert Einstein plays the piano and violin. He likes to sail, too.

Silvia Plath keeps bees.

Emily Dickinson likes to bake.

The companions they found for their own creativities relax them, diverse their attention when stress accumulates in their “serious work”, and inspire their creativities from another realm of consciousness and reality (because how mindful they have to be when they create. So are you.)

Find your creativity its own companion.

What you enjoy but in another field.

What gives you sparks of inspiration, pleasure, and relaxation or stimulation.

Your creativity will benefit from it. So will you.

What makes you tick?

As a creative and marketer, it’s our second nature to ask what makes other people tick. But to develop our own creativity to the next level, or simply to unstuck ourselves, the question we should ask from time to time is “what makes me tick?”

What are my buttons?

What inspires me and what makes me want to say something?

What relaxes me and what makes me want to escape the scene?

What excites me and what makes me want to turn to the next page and not stop reading?

What makes my heart pound and what makes my eyes watery?

Because being creative means not only to explore the market, the world and humanity; it also means to explore ourselves, who we are and what we are able to become, and more importantly, why and how.

Back to simplicity

What to do when you feel stuck and overwhelmed?

Pick up a pen and a paper. They always do the trick for me.

Think about this: feeling stuck and overwhelmed is mostly resulted from overload. It can be information overload, emotion overload, choices overload, etc.

Life is complex. You don’t need me to tell you that.

Let’s face it, even when you feel like you don’t have anything for that blank page, the truth is that you have too much to say to pick anything to say.

So the trick here is simple (pun) — keep it simple.

Go back to the basics.

The most basic form, the most basic exercise, the most basic system.

Go back to the math, the simple dance steps, moves, music notes, concepts and ideas.

Go back to using nothing but a yoga matte, to drawing with one pencil, and one colour.

Go back to practicing the Hanon Exercises.

Go back to writing in pen and paper.

Go back to everything’s original point, point zero.

To where everything began. So that the fog can be dispersed, and eventually disappear.

Inspired by the simplicity, the core structure, the most basic of the basics. That’s what we can do when we cannot move forward.

Breaking creative blocks

First, we need to define “creative block” here, so to make sure that we are talking about the same thing.

A creative block is the feeling you have in your gut when facing a blank page.

A creative block is the chaos in your head when you can’t move forward with your project and you are not sure why.

A creative block the tiredness you experience at any point of your work, because it’s just too taking too long, carrying too much, resonating too little.

A creative block is where you are ready to give up, because it’s too hard, too draining, too expensive, and too lonely.

There are several things I do when I hit a creative block.

  1. Spending quality time with my peers. One or two people I trust who are good listeners and good conversing partners. Talk. About anything. Then add my work process. Talk. Let the real problem and the things I really want to talk about emerge by itself.
  2. Spending time with myself, doing things I want to do. Things that either relax me or stimulate me. Like watercoloring or learning Spanish. Give your ideas time. If you are searching for it too desperately, it’s not gonna come to you by itself.
  3. Free writing. From my experience, you don’t have to do it with paper and pen. Typing works too. Just write. Just type. Ramble. Say anything that comes to mind. If anything interesting comes out, mark it. And keep writing or typing. At one point my brain will turn to saying “ok now I’m really excited about the points that came up just now. So let me go and work on them. Will come back for more free style writing! Thank you and bye!”
  4. Doing the things I instantly want to say “no” to. I know myself well enough now, that I know I should do something when I don’t want to do it. I get alerted whenever I want to say “no” to things. And that excites me. So I will have to do it. Such an activity will unblock my creative process. It always has.

So which one would you like to try the next time when you encounter a creative block? And what do you do when you feel stuck in your creative process?

A strategy might be unnecessary

Some things you can get by drawing out a plan and work for it. Like to finish running a marathon.

The goal is clear. And what you need to do to reach that goal is clear: systematic training, nutrition, and rest — strategy and execution. Simple but hard.

But there are goals that are much harder to reach.

I’m not saying running a marathon is easy. Gosh no. The longest I’ve ever run was 10k and it was five years ago before I got myself a cozy home. You need great discipline to train yourself and you need strong mind power for it, too.

I’m talking about those goals that are too ambiguous to plan for it.

Like being a creative, a storyteller, or an artist.

What does it mean to be all these things above?

It’s not about what you want to do. It has something to do with what you have done.

But it has the most to do with what you are doing.

Being a creative, a storyteller, or an artist, is not about strategy. There is no concrete plan.

What you need is to keep producing, keep creating, keep shipping.

The process is all that matters to call yourself a creative, a storyteller, or an artist.

Other things are just hypes and distractions.