This is an episode that maybe I should have created closer to the beginning of the podcast, to really lay out the core values of what the show is about, so that anybody new to Live Life Creative would understand what it means and how it’s going to help them.
But I think I needed a little bit of time to figure out exactly what it is for myself first. I dived into creating this podcast head first, and I didn’t have all the answers then. For that matter, I still haven’t figured out all the answers, I just have a little clearer idea of what some of them are now.
So today, I want to lay out three core values of Live Life Creative to continue to define what we’re about here and how listening to the show will (hopefully) help you. I see it as a continual work in progress; as we keep going on, I want to refine these values, make them more useful, keep them relevant to your creative life.
Core Value #1: Creativity is New and Useful (And Beautiful)
To kick off, a definition of creativity is in order. In college a professor defined creativity as something that’s both new and useful. I like that because creativity is a tool for progress, making the world a better place.
I want to point out that making stuff that’s old and useful is still critically important, at least in the world in general. Is it creative to make spoons in a silverware factory, the same way, day after day? No, but I use at least two or three spoons every day, one for mixing coffee and hot chocolate, one for dinner, and one for eating peanut butter and chocolate chips, which is a daily activity for me. I’d be sunk without spoons.
You’re still not going to make progress in the world by making something new and useless either, because it doesn’t push you or anyone else forward. That’s not to say that everything you create is going to be instantly the best and most useful thing ever. You often have to work through a lot of bad ideas to get good ideas.
For example, James Dyson invented the Dyson vacuum, which uses a completely different mechanism for sucking up dirt than vacuums with a bag inside. He made over 5,000 prototypes before he created a design that actually worked the way he wanted it to. That’s creativity at work right there; even though thousands of designs were new but (progressively less) useless, each iteration was slightly more useful than the previous one, until he made something that was genuinely useful.
Talking about those 5,000 designs in an interview with Fast Company, Dyson said, “I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.”
Trying new things and failing and learning and trying again is an important part of creativity, and a part of the process to creating something new and useful.
I’d also like to add my own piece to the new and useful definition. Creativity is also creating something that’s beautiful for beauty’s sake. Yes, beautiful things like paintings and music can be turned to useful purposes, but creating beautiful things in a world that’s often dark and dreary is a goal in its own right.
This makes me think of the great composers of the past, the big names like Mozart and Bach. They were often commissioned to create these amazing musical masterpieces by the rich nobility of their time. That music was useful to the composer because they were paid and then could eat, and it was also useful to the patron as entertainment and a status symbol, but it’s also beautiful and moving as well, and that’s a compelling reason to create.
Core Value #2: Everyone Can be Creative in Their Field
If you’re listening to this podcast, you probably already think of yourself as being creative, whether through video, illustration, cuisine, audio, whatever it is, you like to make new, useful, and beautiful stuff. But on the off chance that you don’t think of yourself as being a creative person, I want to encourage you to change that view of yourself. Anybody can be creative, maybe you just haven’t found what you’re most creative at yet.
Think of the stereotype of the accountant. I’m not dissing real accountants or any accountant in particular, just the cultural idea of the boring number cruncher in a brown suit following codified processes with no variation.
Most people would not say this accountant is creative. Most people would not want their accountant to be creative. “Creative accounting” is often used as fun and light-hearted way to imply your bookkeeper is stealing your money.
But there is creativity in accounting, and not in a kleptomaniacal way. After all, somewhere way down in the depths of time, someone had to be the first person to start keeping track of money made, money spent, and money lost. Accounting itself is useful, and it was certainly new at some point. It can even be beautiful, with enough zeros in the profit column.
So find the thing that you’re creative at. I’m not a creative home decorator, and I’m pretty okay with that. That’s not where I feel most creative. I’m creative in photography, in writing, in making this podcast. You may not be creative in every aspect of life either, but keep trying new things until you find what you are creative at.
Core Value #3: We All Get Stuck Sometimes, and That’s Okay
You know what it is. It happens to you, hopefully not all the time, but often enough that it’s frustrating. It goes by many names, like writer’s block, aaaaand….well, okay, I can only think of that one right now.
But you know the feeling of struggle when you’re making your thing, you just can’t figure out how to present this idea in a video or create a portrait of someone that’s different and interesting from what you’ve done before. You’re just plain stuck.
That’s a big part of what this podcast is about, to help you get unstuck creatively and back to making the things you love to make again.
When you find yourself stuck, don’t get down on yourself, it happens to everyone. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be tons of advice online about getting through it and cliche names like “writer’s block” for it. Don’t hate on yourself.
When you do find yourself stuck, get out of your environment, find someplace new just to be and to think. Coffee shops obviously are a good choice, I like my library to escape to because they’ve got a sitting area around a big fireplace in front of these floor to ceiling windows. Change up your surroundings to reset your mind.
I’m a big believer in the creative community for help to get unstuck as well. What’s hard to do on your own can be a lot easier with the help of friends. One of my favorite things about creating this podcast is being able to talk to other creators in the interview episodes, and I learn a lot from those conversations.
Seek out a friend when you’re feeling overwhelmed and broken down and talk it through with them. Even if they don’t have specific suggestions on what to do, getting your problem out of your head and on the table can clear away the cobwebs and open up your thinking.
Having a supportive community has been a recurring theme since this show has started, and that’s no accident. Creating a circle of people you trust and go to for help is vital, and it’s equally important to be there for others to. When we help each other, we all become better.
Creating cool and fun stuff is a fulfilling process, not just when you have a finished project, but the journey to get there is too. I see creativity as the road to improving your work and your life – if you don’t try new things, you’ll keep getting the same results and you’ll feel stale and bored. It leads to growth as a person – when you’re working out your creativity, you’re learning more about yourself, about others, about the world, and how they all work together.
This show is here to help you become more creative, to improve your life, to learn more, and now that you know what this podcast is about, you can decide for yourself whether it’s something you want to keep listening to or to dump it and run. We’re creating a community here that can help each other, so I hope you choose to stick around.
- If you liked this episode, it’d be really helpful to leave a rating and review on whatever podcast app you’re using, especially in Apple Podcasts since that’s where most people listen
- And if you do have that creative circle of friends, tell them about Live Life Creative and encourage them to listen
- If they don’t already listen to podcasts, help them get set up with a podcast app or show them how to listen to podcasts on Spotify
- Follow me on Instagram @livelifecreativepodcast or on Twitter @livecreativepod
- Facebook, search “Live Life Creative Podcast” and hit the like page button
- The next episode is part 2 of my conversation with Cameron Whitman, and we dive into inspiration, struggling through creative ruts, and how to power through hard times in your life.
I’m Dylan Kraayenbrink, helping you break down your barriers, so you can Live Life Creative.