We’ve all been there: daydreaming during school lessons about the phenomenal successes we are destined for with our creative skills and interests. Whether we’ve scribbled away in sketch books, typed stories at our laptops, made songs from scratch or captured moments with our cameras, we’ve found something that we love so much we want to share it. But let’s be really honest now, just for a moment or six. While we can be sucked into our own bubbles and think that everything we encounter on our creative journey is fantastic, it is really important to highlight the lessons that are far from that.
1. Not everybody will like you. There. I said it. It doesn’t matter how smart, pretty, funny or creative you are, there is always going to be somebody out there who just doesn’t warm to you. This is where you’ll need thick skin and a decent amount of self-confidence. Your personality could win Facebook likes, contracts, opportunities and even awards, but if someone is committed to disliking you then there is nothing you can do about that. Make peace with this fact and move swiftly on.
2. Not everybody will like your work. Your work won’t appeal to everybody, not sorry to say. We are all individuals with unique taste, so just because you love your 2000 word feature on the importance of polar bears, doesn’t mean everyone else will. Love what you do, yes, but it helps to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
3. Constructive criticism. If you want to grow professionally, be prepared to take criticism. While it may not always arrive with warm hugs and smiles, it is always free and you can use it to shape what you do. Yes, it hurts to have your masterpiece torn apart by somebody else, but how about you use that experience and take a lesson from it? Nobody wakes up and is perfect at everything, we all were (and sometimes still are) rubbish and getting near-perfect required a lot of time and dedication. You’re worth it.
4. Promote your own work. You work hard, so why not shout about it? I love when people are humble but don’t hide your work away. Unless you’re paying them, nobody will promote your work as hard as you can. If you don’t have any faith in what you can do and what you’ve done, why would anyone else?
5. Be ready to work hard. It is all very well waiting for your big break to arrive, but it is very rare that anything fabulous will just drop into your lap with no effort required. Usually when artists land amazing gigs, it is because they have put in some serious graft over the years. It might mean staying up late, choosing to stay home to write over drinking with friends, travelling to events, spending every spare bit of money you have on new equipment, whatever it is just know that your vision is worth your efforts. If you want to experience success, you have to put the same level of effort in, and then some.
6. You will have to create your own opportunities. Don’t sit around waiting for your big break; get out there and make it happen! If you can’t find a place in the creative scene for you, how about you create your own? Whether you start your own writer’s group, put a call out for band members or stop waiting for a music manager and get yourself booked in the studio, your destiny is in your hands.
7. You’ll need to be your own Stan. I’m a shameless self-promoter, I admit it. And while shamelessly promoting your own work can sometimes annoy others, it is also absolutely necessary that you do it. You’re an artist, my lovely, so let the world know about your latest creation. People will support you eventually but if you don’t promote yourself, why will anyone else? Plus, there is no point you being so great at something and nobody else knowing about it. Bringing attention to your skills will start conversations, and who knows where that might lead.
8. Drop the ego. Honey, you don’t get to act like Beyoncé until you’ve made it like Beyoncé and even then, despite all her success she remains humble. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, the world owes you nothing. The respect and recognition that you want? You’ll have to earn it. Don’t forget where you came from, who supported you in the early days, who traveled in the rain to see you at your first gig, lent you petrol money or stayed up with you late at night until you’d got that final detail right. Be humble and people will always remember you for it.
9. Take care of your emotional and mental well-being. It isn’t unusual for creatives to experience some form of mental health, ranging from anxiety to severe depression. I believe this is why we create; it’s an outlet for what we are feeling. So, be mindful of this. Take note of your mood swings, your triggers and your comforters. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to a friend, your doctor, or charities likeTime To Change and Mind.
10. Prepare for a change in social circles. And by prepare, I mean get ready to lose and gain people. The great thing about the creative scene is that we all understand what it is to be creative. We understand the importance of self-expression, respect and value each other’s chosen art forms, and are usually always working on something new. How exciting! Being around people who understand and share your passions is wonderful. You’ll grow personally and professionally while you are on your creative journey, but not everybody will grow with you. Be prepared to cut loose from those who are tying you down and holding you back; you have work to do.
Yes, it can all seem a bit daunting but it is all totally worth it, I promise you. Better you take the plunge now, and pursue a career that you’re passionate about than to slave away at a mundane job, daydreaming about the life you’d like to lead. Your time is here, so go for it!