Creative Challenges Aren’t About What You Produce

If you’ve been following me on social media these last few weeks, you may have noticed that I am currently participating in a couple of creative challenges and I intend on seeing them through the rest of year. Some of my friends have called me crazy for trying to tackle two creative challenges at the same time, all above and beyond my regular “day job” as a professional blogger and freelance writer.

Maybe they’re right.

Then again, maybe they’re not.

I decided that I was going to post at least one new photo every day for all of 2017. I’m tagging all of those photos as #Kwan365 on Instagram. Part of the objective there is to document my day-to-day life as a work-at-home dad and online professional. Another part of the objective is to offer something new and interesting to my followers each and every day.

Perhaps the more difficult of the two challenges is that I have been posting weekly vlogs on YouTube. Some of these might involve attending an event. Others are shot primarily in my home office with me talking about a subject that’s important to me. Either way, I’m posting one new video each and every week.

This might not be quite as ambitious as the 90 Day Video Challenge — you can join the Facebook group to keep up with that if you want — but it’s still a rather substantial challenge. While it is certainly disheartening when some of those videos don’t get quite as many views as I had hoped, the actual number of views and even the actual videos themselves aren’t really the point here.

Don’t get me wrong. Lots of views is certainly a good thing and I couldn’t be happier if a couple of my videos suddenly went viral, but that’s not really the point. It would just be a very happy side effect.

When you work in any sort of creative industry — and make no mistake, blogging is very much a creative endeavor — it’s far too easy to get into a funk. You might hit the ground running with all sorts of unbridled enthusiasm, but that fire in your belly can fizzle out. You might lose your inspiration. Worse yet, you might get comfortable and your quality can start to slide.

If you want to keep your body in good shape, you need to exercise those muscles. You need to go for a run, a swim or a bike ride to get that heart pumping. And if you keep doing exactly the same exercise in exactly the same way, you’ll quickly start to see diminishing returns. You need to change it up. Those in the fitness industry might call this muscle confusion.

Your “creative” muscle, your brain, functions in much the same way.

By taking on a creative challenge, like posting a new picture every day or uploading a new video every week, you force yourself to come up with something new, innovative and creative on a regular basis. You hold yourself accountable (or join a group to hold each other accountable) to this strict schedule.

At the end of it, not only have you developed a habit, not only have you accomplished something amazing, but there’s a good chance that your skills have dramatically improved as a result too. Practice might not make perfect, but it sure gets you a lot closer than doing nothing at all. Your pictures will be framed better. Your videos will be more entertaining.

And you’ll be much better poised to face the next challenge again.

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