Conversation with a Creative: Meet John Carl

 I always get pretty excited to talk about creativity with anyone who wants to broach the subject. There's so much us creative-types can learn from one another: from strategies to battle the fear of rejection to the ways we get inspired. Today I'm starting a new regular feature in which I take these offline conversations online and share them with you.
First at bat: John Carl. 
John is a New York based videographer and filmmaker. We’ve been close friends since our college days and it’s been fascinating to witness John’s rise from computer lab assistant to director of photography for shoots with household names like Microsoft, Sharpie and Motorola. (Oh the places you'll go between 20 and 30!) John and I have had plenty of conversations about creativity, entrepreneurship, art and the lessons we’ve learned along the way. So today I wanted to kick off a new interview-style feature on the blog with this chat with John. 

HS: Can you share with us a little about your career trajectory? How did you arrive where you are now?

JC: Let’s see. Video by way of photography by way of graphic design by way of music by way of computers—a circuitous path. I never knew exactly where I was going but I wanted to keep my engine on. My cousin Davy says, “You cant steer a parked car.I just knew that if I kept doing what I loved that I would eventually find a way to turn it into a career. That’s the short answer.

The slightly longer answer is that I got a camera that could shoot video, a DSLR in 2009 and just started shooting video for fun. After posting a couple videos online, I got a call from Levis about a job and it was a bigger job so it seemed to be the right time to go freelance and start a company. I reached out to some friends and we started a company (DuckDuck Collective). The first year or two were very scrappy. We had to hustle a lot and accepted any work that came our way: weddings, senior portraits, events—not the most glamorous work in the grand scheme of the industry but we were paying our dues. Lynchburg was the perfect place to do that because it was so cheap to live here. Eventually clients wanted more video work and our numbers began to grow. Then on one of our bigger jobs in California we learned that the client had asked the agency why they were hiring “some kids from Virginia” as opposed to professionals from LA or New York. That was insightful and when I realized that even your zip code communicates something about your perceived level of skill. So we decided to move. I wanted to put off LA for as long as possible. It feels a little inevitable in this industry. So off to NYC we went and that’s where we are today. We have new office space, a new camera, lots of other new gear and some new services that aren’t announced yet but I’m very excited about. The business continues to grow.

HS: So why filmmaking? How did you find yourself there?

JC: Filmmaking is the only thing that incorporates all of my interests: cinematography, music, audio, people, technology and most importantly, story. And I get bored really, really quickly so I need something that keeps me moving between all those different disciplines. So I kind of feel like my whole life was leading up to filmmaking.

HS: What does creativity mean to you?

JC: Creativity is a way of turning ourselves inside out. [It’s] trying to share truth or create beauty to make something worthwhile that didn’t exist before. To rip off Dr. Prior, its our desire to imitate God. He creates so we want to create to be like Him. When were creating were most god-likein a sense. But I also view it as a struggle: there’s a real terror that comes from staring at the blank page. You have to push through the fear, make something, let it be substandard, then repeat and hope you improve in the process. And sometimes you do; sometimes you don’t. So there’s an anguish and joy that come from it.

HS: Tell me more about the joy.

JC: Well, my love language is words of affirmation so when someone praises something I’ve done I find a lot of joy in that. But the process is enjoyable too. There’s a joy in having done something well after working really hard on it. Sitting down to make a song, film, design, is super enjoyable. I mean, except the parts where you want to throw your keyboard out the window. But it’s mostly enjoyable. Plus I’m not good at anything else. (laughs) I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t create.

HS: How do you combat your tendency toward perfectionism?

JC: Poorly. (laughs) I have a dear friend who recommended this book to me called Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (And Rewards) of Artmaking. There’s a chapter on perfectionism and the author basically redefines perfectionism as fear. It’s essentially just overvaluing other peoples opinions and fearing their critique. So you wind up doing nothing. It’s not a good thing. So when I say I’m being a perfectionist about something what I’m actually saying is I’m fearful. Oof. Apparently I’m very fearful.

There’s a story in the book that was pretty transformational for me. It tells the story of a pottery professor who, on the first day, told everyone on the left side of the room that they would be graded based on the quantity of their work, and on the right, by the quality of their work. On the last day of class, he did find several perfect pots, but interestingly, they were all from the quantity side of the room. Those students didn’t concern themselves with being perfect, just with learning the process. So I’ve been trying to learn from that story by focusing on the process of creating to set myself free from the tyranny of perfection/fear.

All that said, there’s definitely a limit to discovering quality through quantity too. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. If you’re truly just focused on quantity that would be bad. You need time, occasionally, to focus on quality too, on making things without spiraling into perfectionism. Moderation and balance is the key. Give yourself permission to do both types of projects.

HS: Can you share a little about your creative process?

JC: Well. There’s what it has been and what it should be. What it has been is that it usually starts with feelings, when I’m feeling strongly about anything (happy/sad/angry/pensive, whatever). I havent been approaching it as a process; Ive approached it with a product view. What do I want to end up with? Doing it that way its easy to go off the rails. For example I’ve recorded tons of songs that are half to two-thirds done but I havent shared them out of a fear of not being good enough. So Im actually trying to learn to love the process or even develop one in the first place. Art & Fear talks about this. The author says your responsibility is not to make people love your art or gain approval. Your job as an artist is to love the process. Judge your value as an artist by how youve grown in the process. Give yourself permission to fail and youll get better. That’s hard. Im learning to sacrifice my ego, be humble. I dont know why I ever started believing I was the type of person that would only put out good work. That’s dumb. Focus on the process. Oh yeah, so back to the process. It generally starts with having an emotion or an idea, then theres a “dark night of the soul” full of self-loathing, then giving up or nearly giving up, then pushing through, then eventually I like what Ive wound up with (quasi). Its about learning to love obstructions.

"I dont know why I ever started believing I was the type of person that would only put out good work. That’s dumb. Focus on the process."

I saw a documentary by Lars von Trier, called the Five Obstructions. He asks a filmmaker to remake the same film with five different obstructions. And over the course of the film he learns to love the obstructions. It’s fascinating. When he “cheats” on one, Lars punishes him by assigning him to remake his film with no obstructions at all and the filmmaker hates it. The point is, we actually love and need obstructions. Even though it’s really fun to complain about them. Whatever the limitation is: money, time, right team, etc. The point is to not let any of it be an excuse to stop. Stopping is the enemy. Whatever the twist or obstruction is you have to embrace it and keep pushing.

HS: Do you ever feel creatively blocked? How do you power through that? Any strategies or techniques?

JC: Of course. All the time. The way I power through is just trying to get inspired by other people’s work, Pinterest, Vimeo, real life experience. For whatever reason my life is really dramatic so I have a lot of real world inspiration for creating things.

HS: What is your advice to a young creative who wants a career like yours?

JC: Do whatever it is that you want to do often and don’t wait for somebody else to come along and give you permission to do that thing. No one is coming. No one is coming to give you your big break. Big breaks are an illusion. Getting lucky is hard work. There’s an agency I do freelance at sometimes and on the wall when you walk in it says, “The harder I work the luckier I get.” I love that. I spent a long time being bitter about my college education. I was dissatisfied about all I was not getting taught about graphic design. But at the end of the day when you enter the “real world” no one is responsible for your success other than you. The greatest skill as a creative [can have] is to know how to teach yourself and acquire knowledge. Especially now, with the internet, there is no excuse for anyone to not know anything they want to know. Any information you want to learn, any creative skill set you want to acquire, you can find it online or in a book and often learn it faster and better than in an academic setting. Even if you’re going to an amazing school, the students who do well are the ones who are self-motivated and self-teaching. The ones who do poorly are the ones who are lazy and expect spoon feeding. I think one of the biggest predictors of success is how well you can teach yourself new things and how well you can motivate yourself to do that.

HS: Parting thoughts?

JC: I tried to have a full time job once and it was by far the most unhappy I’ve ever been. I was a tiny cog in a massive machine. I worked in a cubicle. We discussed things like “printer policies” and had to passive-aggressively label our lunches in the fridge. I hated my life. I took a risk though and quit. It has been, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I ever made. So to anyone thinking about going freelance: do it. DO IT

Read advice from John and other thriving creatives in my eBook “5 Minute Mentor for Creatives.” Grab your copy here.

John Carl is co-founder and president of Duck Duck Collective, a video production company based in Brooklyn, New York. Connect with him on Twitter @JohnCarl. Have something to add to this conversation? We'd love to hear from you. Just hit that "comment" button below. 



5 Lessons I Learned from Viewing 4000 Pieces of Picasso's Art

Me and "Picasso."
Me and "Picasso."

Well friends, JC and I returned to the states on Sunday after a little over a week in London and Barcelona. It was an incredible trip that was jam packed with tours, museums and imagining what life was like in the shoes of some pretty influential, awe-inspiring people. Our days in London and Barcelona had us pulling back the curtain on the lives of Winston Churchill, Paul McCartney (and the Beatles), Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí.

Today I want to share with you some of the lessons that stood out to me as I toured the Museu Picasso de Barcelona. The museum has a permanent collection of over 4000 pieces created by Pablo Picasso. The pieces are organized chronologically so we saw how Picasso's style evolved over the years, step by step. The first section was a collection of paintings Picasso created when he was about 14. The first thing I noticed?

1. You don't become a world class artist without starting with an unusual amount of natural talent. 

"Man in Beret" by Picasso, age 14
"Man in Beret" by Picasso, age 14

2. Talent must be cultivated. Picasso started formal artistic training with his father at age 7. He was enrolled at Barcelona's School of Fine Arts at age 13. And he never really stopped learning. In 1900 he moved to Paris, the art capital of Europe. He was influenced by many other artists and continued to grow.

3. Picasso was prolific. Picasso clearly did not just paint when he "felt" like it. While I saw some 4000 of his works at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the total number of art works he created in his lifetime has been estimated at 50,000: 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and tons of tapestries and rugs.

4. Evolution is integral. Picasso's style greatly evolved from the time of classical realistic paintings in his teens to his blue period (in which he only painted in blue shades for three years) to finally arriving at the cubism he is famous for creating. Change can be scary but it's important to grow.

"Science and Charity" by Picasso, age 16
"Science and Charity" by Picasso, age 16
Mother and Child, by Picasso age 23
Mother and Child, by Picasso age 23

5."Bad artists copy, good artists steal." -Picasso One of my favorite portions of the collection at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona was a series of 58 paintings Picasso worked on for an entire year in 1957. Picasso went deep analyzing and riffing on the famous painting Las Meninas by Diego Velásquez. Picasso donated the entire collection to the museum--the only complete collection in one place today.

This is what Picasso said about it: "If someone want to copy Las Meninas, entirely in good faith, for example, upon reaching a certain point and if that one was me, I would say..what if you put them a little more to the right or left? I'll try to do it my way, forgetting about Velázquez. The test would surely bring me to modify or change the light because of having changed the position of a character. So, little by little, that would be a detestable Meninas for a traditional painter, but would be my Meninas." -Picasso, 1950

Las Meninas by Velasquez, 1656
Las Meninas by Velasquez, 1656
Las Meninas, by Picasso age 75
Las Meninas, by Picasso age 75

Creativity and contribution may not come from a completely original piece but rather a new take on something older. Maria Popova said it so well: “Creativity is combinatorial: Alive and awake to the world, we amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks — knowledge, memories, bits of information, sparks of inspiration, and other existing ideas — that we then combine and recombine, mostly unconsciously, into something ‘new.’ From this vast and cross-disciplinary mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our ‘own’ ‘original’ ideas.”

I was awash with inspiration walking through the halls of these great museums seeing the work that has far outlasted the lifetimes of the people who brought these great creations to life. I've come back from vacation just a little more determined to leave something useful or inspiring behind one day. They certainly did life on purpose. I want to as well.

Have you ever encountered a performance, piece of art or history that made you want to take action yourself? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

30 Creative Pursuits of My 30th Year

30 Creative Pursuits
30 Creative Pursuits

So let's cut right to where my head's at:

This is the last week of my twenties.

And as such it is time to finally share with you about my 30 Creative Pursuits of My 30th Year.

Back when I turned 29 last year I had a real moment where I was overwhelmed at the thought of that decade winding down (yes, I still had a whole year to go). What had I done? What did I want to do? Was I being as intentional as I needed to be? I'm not one of those people freaking out because 30 is "old." It's just crazy to me that I so vividly remember turning 20 (what was going on, what I was thinking and feeling) and that was a decade ago. Life moves swiftly--especially as we get older. This pace is speeding up and I need to pay attention to all of it.

In 2013 my friend Megan did this uber interesting #30to30 challenge--thirty things she wanted to cross off her bucket list to usher in her 30th birthday. It was this awesome eclectic mix of like riding 500 miles on her bike and reading Dostoevsky and giving blood and other artsy things too. As I tried to totally copy her and make a list of my own I realized my short-term bucket list just didn't get me jazzed and I definitely couldn't come up with 30 eclectic items. Really what I wanted was more intentional creativity in my life. Thus, 30 Creative Pursuits of My 30th Year was born.

I made a list of 30 things I wanted to do around creative enrichment, experiences and output in the last year of my twenties. I've crossed many off my list: put 2 (better) musical theatre clips on Youtube, implement bimonthly HSL Creative Retreat Days for creativity and thinking, performer in a musical or play, start some sort of writing, creativity, thinkers or reading club (meet at least once), take at least one voice lesson, come up with ten book ideas, go to an industry conference. All of these intentional pursuits have been crazy fulfilling and/or inspiring and I wish I had been this intentional before I came toe-to-toe with 30.

Others on the list I've simply not completed yet or I've avoided them: read On Writing by Stephen King, see Gone with the Wind, write three songs, complete a book proposal, write one work of fiction. I'm not sure why these items got put off to the end. Update: I started the audiobook of On Writing and I just can't seem to get into it. Somehow Stephen King has made even a book about writing a little gory. Perhaps if I was a fan of his novels I would appreciate his style more. I still haven't seen Gone with the Wind but have high hopes to do so in the next week. I worked on some song lyrics last week but an actual song, they are not. The book proposal is simply a matter of blocking off time to flesh it out. The book is in my head.  I just haven't written the proposal because other things seem to be more urgent.

That's the interesting thing about this whole list. Easily none of it could have gotten done if I didn't prioritize it. These aren't things that were urgent or that one of my clients or bosses needed me to do. These weren't going to impress anyone or really greatly benefit my family or friends. They were kind of just for my own enrichment and enjoyment. So they were easily avoidable and easy to put on the back burner.

On the other hand, some of the greatest highlights of the last year came as a result of these items. I absolutely adored reading the Artist's Way with Erica and Whitney (and sometimes others who joined in). If it weren't for that, Enchanting Entertainment wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have led a workshop at Toolry. HSL Creative Retreat Days were a refreshing opportunity to put daily work on pause and check in with myself. Was I heading in the direction that felt most right? Was I pleased with the content I was writing? I stopped once every other month and instead of working from my home office like normal, I explored new locations and incorporated the outdoors into my experience for the day. (Click these links for photo proof.) I hiked Candler's Mountain and fell in love with Percival's Island. I found my perfect study place in Liberty's Library. I tried the Bean Tree Cafe for the first time. All experiences were enriching, pleasant and helped me recalibrate. I've done some of my best thinking and writing on HSL Creative Retreat Days.

As a result of 30 Creative Pursuits I pushed myself to attend the Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC. I attended a conference solo while most everyone else who was in attendance came on their employer's dime. I heard from some of the greatest minds in social media and content marketing. I wrote a million notes and began to imagine myself as a keynote speaker. Could I encapsulate what is cool about social media and dual careers and being a female solopreneur and being a millennial and inspire someone through a talk about those things? I began to imagine.

In voice lessons with David Hahn not only did I gain a friend and an advocate but I also found new layers in my voice and began to really grasp the "less is more" of singing. I loved working steadily on the craft of vocal performance. It was a big part of my life in college and I hadn't studied with a voice teacher consistently in about four years. Music does something for the soul unlike anything else.

29 has been a creative, intentional year of growth. It's pushed me to a place of embracing "no" to things that are good and saying "yes" to opportunities I didn't predict. I really hope that I find the inspiration to live so intentionally every year whether it's a milestone birthday or not. I know my life has been better this year for intentionally carving out time to be creative, both outwardly creative and inwardly.

I encourage you to embrace your creativity this year. Whether you're drawn to visual arts, poetry, cooking or rearranging your furniture, taking time out to create something, to reflect more deeply or just to consciously inject change into your daily life can catapult you into a place where you see things quite differently and you connect dots that you didn't see before. I'm so glad I made this weird list last year. I think I will make another for my 31st year. It's too good to stop now.

I'd love to know, will you take me up on my challenge? What is one creative thing you will make time for this year? 

Hilary is a writer, a performer, a social media nerd, and digital strategist.

5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Reading Group

Me reading the Artist's Way alone. (Read alone, then discuss together!)

I think it’s time to tell you…I have a milestone birthday coming up in exactly two months.

And like any true blue ENFP I have been thinking about the implications of it since my last birthday.

One of the ways I wanted to head into my 30th year was to add more creativity and intention to my life. So I embarked on a journey of 30 Creative Pursuits for My 30th Year.

The whole thing is well under way as I’ve only got two months left, but today I wanted to share with you what has been one of the most meaningful and impactful items on the list.

#27 Start some sort of writing, creativity, thinkers or reading club (meet at least once)

hey, don’t judge my ‘meet at least once’ goal—I was trying to make it attainable :-)

Last fall I started a book group and together we read through Julia Cameron’s book, the Artist’s WayNow this particular group happened to be centered on reading a book together, but I think groups that are meant to simply share what your current challenges are in your work or get feedback on your writing or to pursue various creative pursuits together are all highly valuable. I would like one of each please! 

For our group, the book choice was great because the chapters were short, it was very action-oriented and it was already organized into a 12-week study.

But more than the choice of book, the choice to pursue reading a book with some women who challenge me was even greater.

5 reasons I encourage you to make your own writing/creativity/thinkers/reading group

1. Connecting with like-minded people. Putting an intentional group together to discuss a book or another given topic is a refreshing experience. In the case of my book group, while I didn’t run into all the people in my group in my regular circles, I knew there was a kindredness of spirit there. It was really rewarding to spend time around a table discussing something we jointly cared about and were interested in.

2. Accountability. Knowing that I would be seeing my book group again in two weeks made me stay on schedule with my reading. When I’m reading a book on my own it feels pretty “optional” but knowing that my group would be gathering soon to discuss this week’s reading served as great accountability to get it done.

3. Your thinking is challenged. While my group was filled with like-minded people it was also filled with opinions, perspectives and backgrounds that differed greatly from my own. It was a wonderful reminder that two people can read the same text and feel completely differently about it. A meeting of the minds is challenging and gets you thinking more critically.

4. Intentional conversation. When meeting up with friends it’s so easy to let conversation focus on the latest headlines of our lives and not go to a deeper place. With the right book or subject matter to discuss, conversations go deeper and you actually might get to know your friends on a deeper level than you would have without it. 

5. Reading is richer when it’s a shared experience. My experience working my way through the Artist’s Way was so much better because I got to not only interact with the book by doing exercises and writing a ton, but also because I got to discuss it with my fellow readers. We talked about what resonated with us in the book and our reactions to the reading. It really created a bond and made me closer to the people in my group.

Maybe it’s because I work from home (alone) most of the day or maybe it’s because I’m an extrovert but this reading group really enhanced the quality of my life. I’m already mulling on my next book group.

Do you have a book/great minds/writing/thinkers group? I want to hear ALL about it.

10 Ways to Kick This Year in the Pants

Are you one of those mega motivated people who geek out on resolutions? Or maybe you're more of the skeptical, I-don't-want-to-disappoint-myself types who opts out—or maybe you like goals but aren’t into New Year’s resolutions because the date feels arbitrary. Either way, today I want to challenge you with ten ways you can start the year off with a BANG! If you could really do something about it, would you want this year to look different than last year? I have good news for you. YOU CAN!

You have 50 weeks left of this year. What will you do with them?

10 Ways to Kick Your Year in the Pants

1. Establish a Brain Trust. The truth is--you probably already have one. A Brain Trust is that go to personal board of directors who you seek out for advice when you're making big decisions, whose opinions you  weigh heavier than all the rest. Feel like your Brain Trust is a little too small? Seek out building relationships with people who you highly respect and value. You can also read all about the original Brain Trust in Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

2. Make a list of things you want to learn this year. You've always wanted to _________. What just popped in your mind? Why not go for it this year? What's stopping you? Ok, at least search for Youtube videos about it, ok?

3. Use this epic process by Christine Hassler to get clear on what you want to co-create this year. There are the goals that you may have already penned (after all we're a solid two weeks into 2015) but then there are deeper hopes and values that you have for this year that you may not have fully articulated yet. I encourage you to walk through Christine's process of what you want to leave in 2014 and what you want to manifest in 2015. This exercise can bring a ton of clarity.

4. Make a list of books you want to read this year. If you're like me your stack of books to read seems like a never-ending tower. This year, make a list--that you can review regularly--of the books that you will read. Plug it in to your calendar like any other activity you highly value. I was so sad when I realized how few books I read last year. I so value reading and have a bookshelf full of books to conquer this year. I know myself. The way to make that happen is to get specific on my to do list. It will happen if I plug this goal into my calendar.

5. Follow 5 inspiring people on Twitter that you aren't already following. Use these incredible tools called social networks to grow your experience. Not sure who to follow? How bout Billy Porter, Greg McKeown, Tanner Christensen, Maria Popova, or C.S. Lewis?

6. Make a vision board on Pinterest. Hat tip to Camryn for making this great suggestion! Take your 2015 goals and find visuals for them on Pinterest. I just did this (after spending Saturday going through #3 on this) and the visual representation of my plans and hopes for the year is pretty exhilarating.

7. Reach out to someone you've admired from afar (whether acquaintance, stranger or other) and ask them to grab coffee or lunch. Worst case scenario, they say no. Best case scenario, you've begun to establish a personal relationship with someone that you would like to know better.

8.Track your social media ROI. Every day take into account how your time on social media was spent, what the payoff was and what might have made you feel not so good. **Adjust accordingly.**

9. Get a pedometer of some kind and track your exercise. It's  so easy to *literally* hibernate in the winter. How bout you use this time where things are quiet and you're not pulled in a million directions to up your health and fitness game?

10. Commit to writing until you fill three pages each morning for 21 days. See how you feel about it afterward. I started doing this last fall when I journeyed through The Artist's Way. Guess what happened? I began to come up with idea after idea. One developed into a series of blogging workshops, and the other resulted in a side hustle that recouped its initial investment in three months. I'm not sure how to better convince you to write every morning.

What are you doing differently in 2015? What is your one big message for the world this year? What do you hope people remember about you?

Hilary is passionate about inspiring people to live their best lives. And if that happens through a performance on stage or through something she wrote, well then, she couldn't be happier.

5 Tips to Maximize the Discipline of Creativity

“The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they all have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.” -Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is one of my favorite books. Even in the title, it lets you in on a little secret: creativity does not come in bursts of inspiration, it comes in daily discipline and habits.

Today I want to focus on five tips I learned on the preparation and inspiration of creativity from Tharp’s book.

5 Tips to Maximize the Discipline of Creativity

1. Learn from the greats. 

Mozart said: “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Read biographies of people who you'd like emulate. What are they reading? What are the trends in your industry? Pay attention to the work of people you admire.

2. Implement a morning ritual that you can count on to ignite your creativity and focus. 

“Although he was not physically fit, Beethoven would start each day with the same ritual: a morning walk during which he would scribble into a pocket sketchbook the first rough notes of whatever musical idea inevitably entered his head. Having done that, having limbered up his mind and transported himself into his version of a trance zone during the walk, he would return to his room and get to work.”

What do you need to do to maximize your creativity each day? Eat breakfast before you work? Listen to a certain style of music? Take a quick stroll around the block? Determine what you need to do to focus and open your mind to what you need to create today.

3. Keep a notebook with you (or the notes app on your iPhone) to jot down ideas when they come to you.

“I’m often asked, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ This happens to anyone who is willing to stand in front of an audience and talk about his or her work. The short answer is: everywhere. It’s like asking 'Where do you find the air you breathe?' Ideas are all around you.”

Always be ready for new ideas to come together. And never trust your memory. Write it down, write it down, write it down.

4. Prepare daily. And make peace with your lack of control.

"Habitually creative people are, in E.B. White’s phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' The keywords here are 'prepared' and 'lucky.' They’re inseparable. You don’t get lucky without preparation, and there’s no sense in being prepared if you’re not open to the possibility of a glorious accident...Some people resent the idea of luck. Accepting the role of chance in our lives suggests that our creations and triumphs are not entirely our own, and that in some way we’re undeserving of our success. I say, Get over it. This is how the world works. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Tharp said this on trusting too much in planning every detail:

“There’s an emotional lie to overplanning; it creates a security blanket that lets you assume you have things under control, that you are further along than you really are, that you’re home free when you haven’t even walked out the door yet.”

5. Put in the work every day.

“80% of success in show business is showing up.” -Woody Allen

The same is true in all creative fields. Put the time in. Do your due diligence. Wrack up your 10,000 hours. Be consistent and the reward will come.

Have you received any advice on creativity and work that has stuck with you? Share it in the comments.

Be sure to subscribe to weekly updates and I'll send you the Blogger's Editorial Calendar Cheat Sheet. 

10 Tips to Boost Creativity the Einstein Way

Ever since I was tagged a “creative” person as a kid, I’ve been drawn to the concept and study of creativity. Twyla Tharp’s the Creative Habit is one of my favorite books. I even put it in the name of my company. I recently read an article about Einstein’s perspective on creativity. He called it combinatory play.

Maria Popova phrases Einstein’s perspective like this:

“Creativity is combinatorial: Alive and awake to the world, we amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks — knowledge, memories, bits of information, sparks of inspiration, and other existing ideas — that we then combine and recombine, mostly unconsciously, into something ‘new.’ From this vast and cross-disciplinary mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our ‘own’ ‘original’ ideas.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks that no great idea comes out of thin air. None of us can really take full credit for anything! Great ideas come from putting pieces together. Someone else’s comment here, someone else’s example there, and voila a new idea is formed that seems obvious based on putting the other two ideas together.

HSL Creative was founded after putting several ideas together. To me, it seemed like an obvious next step.

Yesterday I toured Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The tour guide explained that while people think of Jefferson as an inventor he was really an innovator. He took other inventions and improved them. Combinatory play at it’s finest.

Here are 10 tips to incite more combinatory play in your life. I dare you to try at least 3 this week:

1. Explore an aisle of the bookstore that you don’t usually frequent.

2. Try out a new recipe with ingredients you've never used.

3. Make plans for lunch or coffee with someone who is not in your regular circles.

4. Subscribe to BrainPickings.

5. Sit in on your library’s book club meeting.

6. Listen to a public lecture at a local college.

7.  Ask this question at the dinner table: If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do with your life?

8. Watch a TedTalk.

9. Read a biography of someone that interests you who you've not previously studied.

10. Post a question on your Facebook status.

I encourage you to carry a notebook (or just your notes app in your iPhone) with you throughout the week and jot down ideas that come to you. When you’re open to connecting new dots, you are likely to do just that.