The Creative Weekly, No.2

Did you fall in love with the City. Ballet. Documentary last week? I finished watching Season Two over the weekend and just as I did when I finished Season One, I dove right into a few side projects I have in the works. Is it just me or is there nothing more motivating than witnessing others work so hard, show so much discipline, and sacrifice so much to grow in their creative craft? Following along with the men and women of the New York City Ballet makes me realize anything can be accomplished if you put in the time, effort, and discipline. 

If I'm being entirely honest I desire to grow in my creative pursuits, but the ways in which I've prioritized these pursuits doesn't match up with my desired outcomes. As I watched City. Ballet. I was impressed by the immense discipline shown by each young dancer. Each ballerina had spent years of their life developing their craft. They spent years learning the basics, slowly moving to intermediate moves, and later (many many years later) finally reaching their goal of working and performing for the New York City Ballet. They did not show up as 20-somethings expecting the New York City Ballet to hand them their dreams on a platter, but rather they devoted time, sacrificed regular childhood experiences, and endured rigorous training, all in the hope of achieving their desired outcome. 

I believe we, whether dancer, painter, accountant, graphic designer, office manager, stay-at-home mom, whatever your passion and place may be, can learn from the men and women of the New York City Ballet about achieving our desired outcomes in our creative field. Today I'm sharing 3 Essentials for every creative. 

1. Start with the Basics

All of the dancers dancing for the NYC Ballet began their careers learning the very basics of ballet. Their dance recitals were likely far less glamorous than the stages of Lincoln Center, but without rolling up their sleeves and learning the basics of ballet they never would have been able to dance the more technical and elaborate dances you see on stage today. The same applies to you and me. If we desire to get serious about our creative pursuits we must begin with the basics. We cannot look to the experts and expect we'll be in their shoes right out of the gates. There are valuable lessons to be learned in the beginning, starting with the basics, and instead of constantly wishing to move ahead faster, enjoy this time and learn everything you can about the basics of your craft. This will one day be the foundation that makes you an expert in your field. 

2. Be Realistic 

A 7-year old dreaming about one day joining the NYC Ballet knows that in order to accomplish that dream there are certain tasks they must accomplish first. They know that dream will not be obtained as a 7-year old, but may in time be achieved as a 14, 15, 16 year old. They are realistic in setting goals to reach their desired outcome.

I will be the first to admit being realistic can be one of the most challenging tasks for a creative. I constantly have new ideas forming, new projects tossing around in my mind, and if not for the gracious truthful words of my husband I'd have a lot of unfinished projects by now.

Being realistic starts with evaluating the bigger picture. Do you have the time and resources available? Does this creative pursuit align with the values of your families short-term and long-term goals? Will the steps you wish to start to today be working towards your desired outcome? How will you determine success? Are you okay with the possibility of failing? Are you willing to pursue it even if it takes years to reach your desired outcome? These may seem like silly questions when you have a creative pursuit you just have to follow, but wise discernment in the beginning and setting realistic goals can create the foundations that take you through the successes and the failures that are inevitable with any creative pursuit.

3. Enjoy what you do

First, let me say what I am NOT saying with this final point. I am not saying we will always enjoy every aspect of everything we do. The fact is there will always be tasks of a creative pursuit or responsibility that we enjoy and other tasks that we do not. I'm certain (and as is shown in the documentary) many of the men and women in the NYC Ballet have experienced moments in their career where they did not enjoy the work they were doing. So what kept them motivated? Overall they truly enjoyed what they were doing, they were passionate about ballet, and they understood that while they may not enjoy a particular project or task they are working on at the moment, they were still involved with a pursuit they immensely enjoyed. They were able to see the bigger picture in the midst of the day-to-day tasks.

We too can keep the big picture at the forefront of our minds as we work through the day-to-day tasks that we may or may not enjoy. With the desired outcome in mind we can embrace (and maybe even grow to enjoy?!) the menial tasks required along the way because we understand and accept they are necessary and good. For myself, my enjoyment stems ultimately from the fact that I cannot separate my faith from my creative field, and my enjoyment in a creative field comes from my desire to steward my God-given gifts, strengths, and passions well. 


What do you think? What essentials for all creatives would you add to the list?