How to Create in the Era of Distractions (How to Become A Creator Instead of A Consumer)

How to Create in the Era of Distractions (How to Become A Creator Instead of A Consumer)

Technology, with all of its blessings and benefits, is one of the most damaging things to creators.

If you haven’t read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport (which you should go do right now - after reading this article), he basically outlines the theory that we’re all losing the ability to do the deep work.

By “deep work” he means the thing that truly changes lives and careers. The big breakthroughs. The big ideas that change someone’s careers.

Storytelling Lessons From The Last Of Us

Through all of my years of gaming, few have impacted me the way The Last of Us did.

This is not just the graphics and special effects, although those were spectacular, it was the story. This story impacted me emotionally and continues to stick in my mind even thought it has been years since I first experienced it.

Lessons on Sharing Your Art

You get paid as a storyteller when you’ve been persistent and consistent.

You get paid when you’ve actually put yourself out there.

Over the years, countless people have e-mailed me to ask how they get started in the writing industry. I ask them what their portfolio looks like and how much content they’ve written online.

Never Be Married To Your Writing

When I would be forced to be in a group edit (almost worse than a group project) throughout college, it was always a struggle.

These are basically when you sit down with other writing majors and all edit each other's work in a small group.

After slaving over the words on the page and hitting the needed word count, the thought of deleting any of it and starting over made me WAY too anxious because in my mind I'd have to slave over more words again.

Unfortunately, it took me until after college to understand the famous quote:

The only kind of writing is rewriting. - Ernest Hemingway

It's hard to highlight a bunch of text and hit delete because you know it's not working.

Through a lot of practice I've finally gotten to a place where I can select a whole bunch of text and hit the delete button without feeling like a part of my soul just went with it.

Sometimes your original idea just doesn't work and there's such a fine line between being stubborn with an idea (Think: JK Rowling pitching Harry Potter over and over) and knowing when your idea needs to take a break.

Sometimes you just have to trust your gut.

Sometimes you just have to keep working on a piece for yourself. (I have one fun screenplay about zombies and a pair of badass sisters that Hollywood would never touch for a second, but it brought me out of a THREE YEAR writing funk I couldn't shake.)

Sometimes there are pieces that are just fun to work on.

At the same time, there are creatives who struggle endlessly because they're married to an idea and refuse to give up on it.

They have that one book/movie/TV show/other piece of art and they cannot move past it because they swear it's the next Casablanca. It hurts them every single day and they are crushed by the rejection.

These are ridiculously talented people who just need to work on the next idea that might work instead of spending years trying to pitch something that isn't selling.

For me, if anything starts to make me feel horrible all the time (a business, an idea, a blog post, etc), it's time to mix it up.

By never staying married to your content and ideas, you're able to move around freely. Always keep your work in case an opportunity comes up around the corner, but staying loyal to it and being Ride or Die until the end doesn't make sense.

As a creative, do what works for you. If you feel unhappy, don't force it like I've stupidly done throughout my career. Figure out what's lacking and what you need.

Always keep listening to your gut above everything else.


The Fastest Learning Curve

The number one rule of any creative endeavor is that you will learn more from your failures than anything else.

This is where I've always struggled to help any creative with any advice because so much of it is just trial and error.

Even after investing probably too much money into a writing degree from a university, I still learned more through my own trial and error than I did in those classes.

The first blog I started made the second one easier.

The first published piece I wrote made the second one easier.

The first serious pitch for work (that was shot down) made the second one easier.

There's so much power behind just starting and writing that first horrible draft of anything.

Too many creatives get stuck here. Instead of just coming to terms with the fact that any first attempts will not come out well, they wait until it's going to come out "perfect".

Spoilers: There's no "perfect". Ever.

You'll only stop growing as a creative when you stop stepping outside of your comfort zone and continuing to fail at new things.

That's it for today. Short and to the point, but I mean it. Do something new today and fail at it. You'll learn more from that than from any book, video, or podcast.