Six steps to creative success

- July 1, 2010 2 MIN READ

Are you a starving artist? A writer in a draughty garret? Newsflash: creative people need to eat too. Here’s how you can be productive, profitable AND have creative success.

Creative people don’t always love playing by the rules of business and I’ve worked with many who aren’t primarily driven by the traditional measures of success. They do what they do because it’s what they love doing. 

But how do you put food on the table (and money in your superannuation account) if your primary objective is exploring your craft? In my coaching work, I’ve found the following tips can lead to significant shifts in creative success. 

1. Move beyond perfection

Creative people are often the strongest critics of their own work. The first time I sent a newsletter I rewrote it about eight times. I loved writing but I wanted everything I wrote to be perfect. I knew intellectually that no matter how much I perfected my craft I’d never please everyone, so in the end I accepted that I had to get comfortable with ‘good enough’

Remember that many of the world’s most highly acclaimed artists were completely disregarded in their own times. Trust your instinct and create what you want to create without worrying about how it will be received by others.

2. Get out of the house

Creative people don’t always want to share their work. Many are content to write, design or make things for their own pleasure. 

Most of the creative types I know would rather die than network. 

But if you don’t get your work in front of a large audience, you stand less of a chance of making a sale. 

Find your own way to build new relationships and take small steps towards getting your work in front of a bigger audience. And never stop building on that, even if your audience expands slowly. 

3. Find a reason to succeed

If money and business success don’t motivate you, what does? 

Are you interested in social responsibility or leaving a legacy? Would you like to be a role model to younger artists and designers? 

Find a meaningful reason to turn your creativity into something more than just an interest. 

Want more articles like this? Check out the innovation section.

4. Have a plan (but keep it flexible)

Set some measurable goals around what you want to achieve in a given time period. Break your goals into small manageable steps and set a start date for step one. 

Sounds pretty simple I know, but it really does work. 

Goals are meant to be flexible, so revisit them every month and change them as you see fit. 

5. Discipline is not (always) a dirty word

Contrary to popular belief, some degree of discipline and structure can actually give you a greater sense of freedom, which in turn can foster creativity. 

If you feel you’re being just a little bit more productive, you’ll lose the sense that you’re constantly wasting time and will feel less guilty. 

You’ll enjoy your time off in a more leisurely way, and you might even find yourself actually looking forward to the time you’ve set aside to be productive. 

6. Fill your creative cup

Most creative people know what helps their creative process. It might be swimming in the ocean, walking in nature, listening to music, gardening, taking a yoga class, visiting an art gallery or seeing live music. Whatever works for you, it’s imperative you find time to fill your creative cup. 

Have you found a way to creative success? Please share your tips for maximising both creativity and profitability below.