Five lessons I’ve learned about being a successful creative (aka: a “weirdo”)
Sarah Goguen, Designer
One of the most important things I learned in school was to surround yourself with great people. (That’s half the creative battle.) I’ve been a designer for 18 years, the last four of those spent freelancing at PR firms, agencies and publishers. This means I have worked with a wide variety of coworkers and clients: educators, bankers, photographers, homemakers, gamers, doctors… you name it. Among these, the ones I remember most were the self-described “weirdos.” These were individuals who solved challenges from unique perspectives. To use a tired-but-true expression, they thought “outside the box.” They pushed the boundaries of traditional problem solving. These were the great people my college professor was talking about!
Here are a few things I’ve learned from these so-called “weirdos”:
1. Don’t follow the same road, you’ll get bored. I once worked with a writer who would take a different route home everyday. He always said, “he knew where he was going to end up, just didn’t want to miss anything along the way.” He changed his scenery. So much of what inspires creativity is your surroundings, so it seems logical to change your scenery (something Marcy discussed earlier in the year!). If you’re stumped, get out of your office and meet somewhere else. Inspiration can come from anything and anywhere!
2. Have a hobby that doesn’t involve a keyboard (unless it’s a piano). If your job requires that you sit at a computer screen for most of your day, put it away when you get home. Spend time doing something you love. Run, garden, paint, whatever floats your boat. Embrace it and exercise your brain’s creativity outside the office. Some of the happiest, most refreshing creative people I know are the ones who embrace their hobbies and passions.
3. Put your heart into your work, but don’t let the naysayers knock you down. Whether it’s a tough client, or a bad review of your work, suck it up and move on. Perfection is noble goal, but it must be a journey rather than a destination. The hardest part about critiques is being able to digest them and use it to excel at your craft.
4. Allow yourself to have fun. I once worked with at an agency that had razor scooter races every other Friday in the lobby. Okay, so not every work environment is conducive to this, but trust me, the places I’ve worked where the employees were allowed to blow off some steam during the day were far more creative than those that were confined to a cube.
5. Build networks and bridges. Simple right? Meet with other creative people — find out what inspires them and stumps them. Be motivated, not intimidated, by their success. It’s amazing what you can learn from other talented colleagues. And you never know where these bridges may take you in the future.