This is how you get better (and why you don’t want to do it)

by Joanna Pieters | Follow her on Facebook here

You know what holds so many creatives back from being really good at what they do?

Not daring to become good.

Thinking that the problem is the medium, not the skill.

Trying a new approach, rather than working repeatedly on one.

New is always exciting. But successful creatives don’t create individual works. They create sets, or series of works.

  • Picasso’s Blue Period wasn’t one painting, but an exploration of possibilities using a set of boundaries.
  • Mozart’s early operas are interesting, but it’s his later ones that transformed theatre. The Marriage of Figaro, his first truly great opera, was his 18th stage work.
  • The top of the fiction bestsellers in the US this week, John Sandford’s Golden Prey, is the 27th book in his Lucas Davenport series.

We know it’s commercially disastrous to jump around too much. After all, readers, audiences, customers, commissioners and gallery owners want to know what to expect.

But keeping a focus also has an essential role for our artistic work.

If we only do things that are new, we never consolidate and deepen our skills. But when we focus on one thing, we don’t have any option but to stretch and grow our creative skills.

New is fun, exciting. It feels as though we’re making progress. But it’s a lie. And sometimes we have to call ourselves out, to make us do the work that will really make the difference.

How to deepen your creativity this week

Go back to something you’ve created before. Spend some time with it thinking: how could you take it to a new stage? How could you approach it differently? Be courageous: what would you do if it you’d been creating works like it for years, and needed to find something totally different to keep it recognisable but still fresh?

Other ways to deepen your creativity

Actor William Rycroft spent four and a half years in the West End production of War Horse. That’s over 1700 shows, all of them demanding him to perform as if it was his first time. But if that terrifies you, then come and listen to what William says about the terror that unfolds when you no longer challenge yourself – here on the Creative Life Show. 

How to do a show 1700 times and still stay creative, with William Rycroft

Are you on Facebook?

Sharing your work is a hugely powerful way of making creative progress. If you haven’t yet joined the Creative Life Facebook group, just click here and ask to join.

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