It has been decided that I should speak to you today on the topic of living a creative life. Having done so with what might be called minimal success, I am minimally prepared to prepare you. Are you prepared to prepare? Good. Here are some preparations that will help you along in your illustrious and lucrative creative life.
1: Prepare to be boring.
As it turns out, having a series of in-progress projects to which you’ve lashed yourself does not make for a jazzy, jet-setting lifestyle. You spend a lot of time shut up in your own head, usually while also shut up in your room. It’s just how you get shit done, a task which is far more difficult to accomplish when in the midst of socializing and gallivanting. Dedicating yourself to a project is way less being the charming eccentric at all the froyo gatherings and more being the guy who excuses himself from the huge annual bowling and pizza party to which everyone else in the office has RSVP’d because you really have to work out the use of nautical terminology in the sci-fi story but it’s not like you can tell anyone that because that sounds insane and boring.
2: Prepare to be frustrated.
Shit gets fucked up. Sometimes it gets so thoroughly fucked up that you have to tear it down, rebuild it, still be unsatisfied, and ship anyway. That happens. Sometimes it happens half a dozen times over the course of one project. You will be annoyed every single goddamn time. Sometimes you’ll be so annoyed that you want to quit trying, and then you’ll get depressed at yourself for even considering that. And then you’ll get frustrated at yourself for getting depressed at a hypothetical scenario you only dreamed up because you were frustrated at the progress of this fake made-up thing that you’re making for fun and love. Neuroses!
3: Prepare to become obsessive.
Are you a fixated weirdo yet? No? Well, just wait! As you progress through a creative project, odds are it’s going to become the number one thing that you willingly do. As a byproduct, it’s likely to become the number one thing you think or talk about. Maybe not the project itself, but the cluster of interests around it, surely. I knew a lot about ghost lore before I started writing a book about ghosts. Now I know a whole lot more just because ghosts are on my mind so much, all packed in my brain and softly demanding that I buy/download another book about them. And talk about them. Do you want to talk about ghosts? I do.
4: Prepare to sacrifice.
Time’s a limited resource. It’s a pie, and no pie is infinite. If you’re taking on a new creative project, be prepared to carve a significant slice out of time you have previously reserved for any of the following things:
-Whatever it is you’re doing in order to eat food and live in a place.
-The preparation of that food and maintenance of that place.
-Sleep, which you totally need.
-Non-sleep rest, which is turns out you also need.
-Any of your other projects.
Me, I tend to take my grim pie slice sacrifice out of sleep, because if I’m relaxing I like to be awake to enjoy it. I’ll also put other projects on hold depending on my stress levels. Hell, I have a legit-ass book project on hold so that I can not lose my mind and also finish a fucking fanfiction story by New Years. And on that note-
5: Prepare to question all of your choices all of the time.
What you’re doing is hard. It’s harder than a lot of things, and because it’s hard you’re always going to be second guessing whether or not it’s right, because there’s a fallacy fairy floating around in our brains that makes us believe anything that’s right will be easy. Because it’s right. You put the square peg in the square hole, peg go hole, easy-peasy, right equals easy. If you’re right, things will go smoothly. If things are going chunkily, you must be wrong. Which is… false. Like, just going to work your shift at CVS, coming home, and crashing into bed to watch Game Grumps until you fall asleep and your phone falls on your face is hecka easy. It also will get you hella nowhere.
That’s the thing about hard stuff: It has a tendency to get you places. Speaking less vaguely, the difficult things you decide to do are difficult because they’re effectively forward motion out of the gravitational pull of what you already are. It’s progression beyond the thing that’s become easy. Of course it’s hard. And doing the creativity thing will require that you do it all the time. All the damn time. I’m doing the fanfiction thing because it’s hard in ways that editing my manuscript isn’t hard, in ways that most of what I do hasn’t been hard. It’s made me learn how to actually write serially, for one thing. Perhaps more importantly, it’s introduced me to interacting with (enthused, friendly) strangers about my writing. The first is difficult, the second is terrifying.
Which leads me to my final point:
6: Prepare to be terrified.
So, yes, haha! I tricked you into reading all this tough love and positive pessimism with a clickbait headline and a funny intro! Fooled you!