You set out to write every day, or draw, or create music, or something else to hone your craft, but once you get started it's hard to maintain momentum and motivation towards regular output over time.
Is this a mental roadblock or more of a physical time and space hurdle?
Sure, it takes time management, and like everyone else, you're very busy with other things. However, you do understand that like anything you know you need to do, you find a way to do it.
For example, I need to pay my bills every month and somehow I always make sure that I do. So why does trying to find the time to consistently be involved in your creative practice seem harder than ensuring your bills are paid regularly?
Again, I come back to the idea that this seems more of a mental problem to be solved versus a true time management problem. Although, I do think the two are linked in that if you can't get into the right mindset it's going to be very difficult to find the motivation to appropriately manage your time to fit your creative practice into your daily life.
Great, so we've identified that it's a mental problem versus a physical time and space problem, so what can you do about it?
Think of a time when you felt creatively energized. What were you doing that gave you that kind of energy? Do that.
It may not be quite that easy. If not, think of things to clear your mind? For some, this might be taking a walk or working out -- something to get the blood flowing and endorphins firing. For others it might be doodling while you're watching TV or listening to music, or simply meditating quietly for a few minutes. I often like to aimlessly noodle on the guitar.
The point is, try to do something that clears your head so you're not trying to force the creativity as much as your are inviting creativity in. You're trying to clear your mind to get out of your creativity's way.
One thing you can do is write daily. I mean with a piece of paper and a pen, and simply write whatever comes to your mind, even if it's nonsense (you don't have to show this to anyone -- it's just an exercise for you).
Set a timer for 5 minutes and do this daily for an entire month. I guarantee you're going to have transcendent moments where you feel like you've unlocked something great inside your creative mind.
Or if you are a visual arts kind of person take on the same 5 minutes a day challenge with drawing -- draw whatever objects are in front of you for 5 minutes a day for a month. Then see how you feel.
It can be tough to start and sustain a creative habit to help your creative muscle grow, but even 5 minutes a day is better than no minutes a day, and who can't come up with 5 minutes a day?
The cool thing is that this is not exclusive to creative people. The 5 minutes a day idea can help anyone get started building a regular positive habit that helps your mindset.
The whole purpose is to get you into, or at least better your chances of getting you into, that highly energized, motivated, happy, healthy state of mind that allows you to think and perform at your best.
It won't happen every time, or even every other time, but you increase your chances of hitting that highly energized state the more you engage in such a practice.
And over time you'll get there more easily, frequently and sustain it longer -- all because you had the discipline and patience to conquer mind over matter.
Posted by Nick Venturella
Get Exclusive Content in My Regular Newsletter!
(this content isn't available anywhere esle)
I like writing as an expressive creative practice because it takes little too almost no equipment, which allows one to quickly and easily catch their inspiration when it strikes.
…and that’s the main point of having a creative practice — to regularly practice using your creative muscle and being poised and ready to capture inspiration when it hits.
Simply grab a sheet of paper and a pen, or in our modern times your iPhone and the Notes app where you can even dictate what you’d like to write and have it written out — that’s how this post originated for me.
The point is, writing is an accessible creative muscle-builder with very little barriers of entry. Thus, there is really no excuse for not working in some way on your creative practice.
Join the email list and get Nick’s exclusive regular newsletter, not available anywhere else online.
Posted by Nick Venturella
"I feel like I'm having a heart attack! I can't breathe. My heart is racing ."
"I'm here to help. You're not dying. Let's focus on slowing down your breathing."
"What was that?"
"You were having a panic attack. I've had them before. It feels like you're having a heart attack, but there's really nothing physically wrong with you. It's just a physical reaction to your mental and emotional state. Do you have any understanding as to why you would have a panic attack? Are you stressed, overwhelmed, upset about something?"
"Yes, yes and yes."
Don't Panic, Take Action
Have you ever had a feeling, or a situation pan out like the one described above?
I know I personally have.
I was in a job years ago that was not an ideal fit. I took it when it was offered to me due to my own desperate circumstances at the time -- my wife and I just moved and she was months away from giving birth to our first child.
That job took an emotional toll on me, to the point that I felt physically ill on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, I think this same scenario is true of many people. Perhaps even you.
For me, I was denying myself the ability to be myself in any recognizable form by being in that job.
That job and the organization I was working for at the time didn't really allow it. They took several measures to squelch individuality.
As a result it was extremely damaging to my spirit, motivation, psyche and personal relationships.
I knew something had to change, but I was unsure how to change it, and I unfortunately knew that change wouldn't happen all at once like I wanted.
Building Small Positive Habits
So, I promised myself that I would do at least one thing every single day that was an effort to move me into a new job away from the organization and position I was currently in.
I started reading -- daily -- what I used to consider very cheesey positive affirmations and related books. Over a short period of time the effect of this was clear to me -- it worked to help move past my negative mindset.
I carried around a small pocket sized notebook to use as an anxiety journal. Every time I started to feel anxious I would pull out the notebook and quickly jot down what I was feeling anxious about. Releasing it from my brain proved to be very beneficial.
Then on my lunch hours and in the evenings -- long evenings taking care of my newborn son -- I sent out job resumes, connected with professional contacts via email and social media to make forward progress on my goal of leaving that job for something that would allow me to be more authentic.
Why Protecting Your Authenticity is Not Selfish
From the moment I made the commitment to myself, my wife and my young growing family that I was going to positively change my employment circumstance, it took me almost 8 months of grinding it out, everyday.
However, I had an interview with a small entrepreneurial HR software organization that went well.
I don't even really remember the interview process -- I was so exhausted and running on adrenaline at the time, but I do remember mustering all my energy to present myself and my marketing portfolio of work.
Later, my boss who hired me, told me that I was the only candidate that came in with a portfolio of work examples to share. He said the candidate race wasn't even close after he met me.
Wow, that felt good!
Getting hired at that job, at that moment in my life, helped me turn the corner on what I was capable of if I relied on my authentic self.
That situation made me realize that I'm most successful when I'm my authentic self (I'm not necessarily speaking about monetary success, but that follows when you truly are who you are and you protect that).
I learned that it's not selfish to protect your ability to play to your strengths and be your authentic self so you can stay positive, productive and happy for yourself and those you care about -- it's a necessary survival skill.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
Join the email list and get Nick's exclusive regular newsletter, not available anywhere else online.
Reminder about this year's goals:
I've been overwhelmed lately with everything I'm trying to achieve this year. I tend to do this, and put a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish things as quickly as I can.
What happens is my thoughts/ideas/goals/ambitions expand out until they reach a critical mass at which point I can't possibly sustain my current mode of operation.
Then I'm forced to scale back my focus in order to achieve quality results on at least a few things.
Here's where I'm currently at on my goal progress...
posted by: Nick Venturella
Some days are better than others.
In my past, I had a boss that used to say, "Bring your best everyday, no matter what 'your best' is that day."
That really stuck with me, and I now tell others that as well.
The idea is to put forth whatever amount of positive energy is the best you can give that day, knowing that some days 'your best' will be better than other days.
Like you, and everyone else, I'm human, so that means we experience life and an array of information and emotions that have an effect on us and how we interact in the world.
Sometimes I feel like I'm running on all cylinders and everything falls into place smoothly, and other times I can't seem to do anything correct.
So far, today has been a day where I can't seem to get things together. I've felt behind from the moment I woke up.
A little spark to get you moving in the right direction
Then I did something that helped me change my mindset a bit -- enough to infuse a little positive energy and self-talk.
The result is that I now have a little momentum to build upon to turn my day around and give 'my best' at a slightly higher level than I previously thought possible today.
Knowing that I'm likely my own worst critic, and you probably are your own worst critic too, I went out to my LinkedIn profile and realized I have several Recommendations there.
Recommendations on one's LinkedIn profile are from others you've worked with who have given a nice testimonial about you/your work.
I read through a few, and it helped me realize that I am good at what I do. I do bring value to others. These people who I admire and respect have documented it for the world to see.
When you need a self-talk pick-me-up read a few of your LinkedIn Recommendations.
Another approach is to keep a folder in your email account where you save positive emails from those you work with/for who thank you for a job well-done and read them periodically as affirmations that even though you may have some not-so-good-days, you have and will have good days.
posted by: Nick Venturella
I've been creating art (visual art, music and written works) in a professional sense for more than 20 years at this point.
While I've had dry spells at times (or had life events that required me to pull back on my art immersion), I've always chipped away at my artistic practice.
I started more as a visual artist, before I owned a guitar, but I always associated music (if only in my head at those times) with the visuals I created.
As I finally got my hands on a guitar my creativity expanded. I erupted with a creative explosion, prolifically writing songs and creating art inspired by the stories of emotions of those songs.
Writing was always a backbone of both my visual and musical outlets as I believed (and still believe) that it's important for an artist to write well if for no other reason than to articulate his/her artistic vision and intentions to others.
College is when I honed in on purposely expanding my creative horizons by further developing my writing abilities.
In a societal and cultural sense (at least in the western world) there is a pressure to focus on, and get good at, one thing to forge your career.
For me, I've always struggled mentally with this idea because I'm interested in constantly meddling in multiple art forms as each provides me different forms of inspiration to keep me creating.
In fact, I feel most comfortable when I can develop a project that incorporates all of my main creative outlets -- music, art and writing.
At times, over the years, I've held myself back by succumbing to the pressure of needing to focus on one art form.
At first, I felt liberation -- I wanted the simplicity of only having to focus on one art form. I thought I could truly develop a distinct style and define my creative self if I only concentrate on one thing.
However, after a little while it just drove me nuts. That's just not me. I need a more holistic approach.
So in a pursuit over the years for my own style in one art form and/or genre I've realized my style is to be interdisciplinary in my approach to my creative output.
Doing so has led to more success in my career -- my own personal creative career as well as the work I'm paid to create for businesses I work with (past and present).
How about you? Let me know here.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
The next progress update regarding the journey toward fulfilling my 2017 goals, is now available.
Read the update in its entirety here.
Thanks for following along.
Last month I published a post that encouraged professionals and business owners to put a dollar value on their time.
I conducted a small survey with a handful of responses (certainly not scientific here), but it was interesting to read how much other professionals deem their time to be worth.
I averaged the survey results up and out of its respondents the average professional believes their time is worth $262.50 per hour.
So why was I interested in this?
Personally, I freelance my skills and time as a contractor on many occasions, and it's always interesting to me the responses I get when I share how much I charge for my time, services and the overall value to the client of the service I provide.
Just to be clear, often the response is negative...as in, I can't believe you are charging that (and trust me, my rates are average to low for the services I provide if said potential client went to a full-blown marketing agency).
However, when that happens it's my opportunity to share how I create value for the client and their business far beyond the amount they pay me...
...and that's probably the bigger lesson here: if potential clients are not willing to pay you the price you've set forth you're either marketing to the wrong people, or you haven't justified your value to them and their business...or both.
Back to the survey...
The survey from last month was another way for me to validate to myself, and to prospective clients, why I might charge what I charge on an hourly basis (if the project is something where I am in fact charging for my time).
The thought process was, if I could gather survey responses from a good cross-section of my target audience and identified among them how much (at least on average) they believe an hour of their time is worth, then I could align my hourly rate with a similar prospective client and further justify why I should be paid my price (again, you do absolutely have to be able to also present your value here).
So, on average those in my target audience are suggesting their time is worth $262.50 per hour. If I presented an hourly rate that is more than a 50% off of their hourly rate (i.e. $130/hr.), wouldn't they be coming out ahead saving time and money?
What's to complain about in that price or approach?
Posted by Nick Venturella
Guest post - About the Author: With over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing company in Chicago. He has been featured in many top online publications including Moz, American Marketing Association and Forbes.
Lead generation marketing campaigns are complex, which is why many organizations get sticker shock when they hear how expensive SEO, PPC and other forms of marketing are. The infographic below, the Lead Generation Ecosystem, is designed to give organizations a clear picture of what a lead generation campaign should look like, and why it is no easy task to get each piece in the right position.
The infographic was developed by Straight North, a PPC management service provider headquartered in Chicago. It was first created as an internal training tool for new hires, and proved so effective that the agency has made it available to the public.
The largest image in the infographic is the company website, since that is where online traffic is converted into sales leads. A good topic for reflection: Are you taking advantage of all the possible types of content on your website? Because of cost, production difficulty, lack of talent and other issues, many businesses rely far too heavily on text-only or text-heavy content. This practice is costly in terms of conversion. Today’s website visitor probably prefers visual content, whether it be short video, infographics, slide presentation or high-resolution, custom photography. Without these, visitors are liable to enter and leave your website without consuming much content, if any. Lead lost!
Take a look at the infographic now, below:
(having trouble viewing the infographic here in the blog post? Click here)
I'll be writing brief goal updates on my Patreon page for anyone to follow along my journey this year.
Here's the latest Progress Update.
Feel free to follow along, and if you're so inclined , become a patron, however, don't feel obligated.
I appreciate your attention and support.
Invest in yourself. Get creative/business/life insights in your inbox - sign up for my eNewsletter.