Universal Creative Tips For Everyone & Everything
Although many times tips and advice depend on exactly what kind of thing it is you're trying to create, there are a few that hold true no matter what it is. From the biggest novel to the tiniest flash fiction, from entire plots to individual plot elements or characters, from things meant to be enjoyed by everyone or just to be seen by a tiny audience, these hold true no matter what you're creating.
Table of Contents
- Beware of creative ruts.
- Beware of the toxic vision!
- Don't get too comfortable in your success.
- Remember, there's no "one-size-fits-all" formula for success.
- Remember, there's a lot of trial-and-error involved in becoming a good creator.
- Remember, it's not about making a perfect creation at first go, but creating something imperfect and figuring out how to make it better.
- In summary!
Beware of creative ruts.
Do you find yourself creating the same kinds of characters over and over, or do nearly all of your characters have one particular trait for no good reason? Or do a lot of your plots revolve around extremely similar scenarios? You might have fallen into a rut. That's a bad place to be because it means that you've likely become predictable, and therefore probably boring. So always watch yourself and what you create. If you start seeing a repeating pattern anywhere, it's time to put the offending element or elements on a "do not use" list for awhile. Challenge yourself to do something else. You might even pleasantly surprise yourself with the results!
Beware of the toxic vision!
Too many creators get far too caught up in realizing their creative visions exactly as they envision them. So they might try to create a story, setting, character who is this precise exact way - then when people don't respond to it as well as hoped, they blame it on people just not understanding or respecting their visions instead of accepting responsibility for making something that just didn't work.
Yes, it hurts when you pour your heart and soul into something and people don't react as well as you'd hoped - but at the end of the day, it's not a failing on their part if they don't like it. The unfortunate truth is that "creative visions" like these are often made up of what would be pleasing or interesting to the creator, with little regard for what would make the audience happy or hook them in.
So if you're trying to realize a creative vision of yours, make sure you stop and ask yourself a few questions. What's going to grab and keep people's interest? If you're writing a story, are you perhaps so caught up in realizing your vision that you overlooked the fact that your story is hard to get immersed in, if you're unfamiliar with the setting already? If you're creating a character, did you perhaps forget to make sure that your character comes off as interesting and likeable enough for the audience to care about? If you were in the position of someone completely unfamiliar with your creation, would you really be seeing anything that made you want to know more? Did put so much focus on making your creation exactly how you wanted that you forgot to ask yourself how or why it would appeal to others?
"But so-and-so likes it!" you might argue. Look closely - who actually likes it? Is it your target audience at large, or is it just a small number of die-hard fans who will praise and defend you no matter what you do? If it's the latter, your creation probably isn't very good.
Don't get too comfortable in your success.
After making a successful and highly-praised work or two, it's easy to start thinking that we've got it all figured out and we know exactly what we're doing. But once this happens, mistakes that we would have caught earlier start passing under our radars, or we just start dismissing criticism that we would have taken more seriously before - and should take more seriously now.
Always remember that no matter how good your fans and supporters say you are, you can still make mistakes. Never stop being critical of your own work and don't stop listening to critical advice. Never be afraid to ask if something seems a little off somewhere. Otherwise, well... just look at how the Star Wars prequel trilogy went over.
Remember, there's no "one-size-fits-all" formula for success.
Just because something worked at some point doesn't mean you can count on it to keep working wherever and whenever you use it. Reasons include:
- What works for one particular audience or group might not work for another - for example, something that appeals to middle schoolers en masse might just bore most people in their thirties.
- As times change, so do people's interests and sensibilities - for example, a character who might have become a bad boy heartthrob twenty years ago might just get laughed at and ridiculed by today's teenagers. Plus, people sometimes just get bored of certain elements - so what got people excited ten years ago might just make them go "meh, been there, done that" today.
- Elements that work just fine in one context might not work in another. For example, a bombastic, whimsical "wacky uncle" type character might work great in a comedy, but would be completely wrong in, if not utterly spoil a political mystery/suspense story.
- If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over a lot, stop doing it and do something else instead, at least for awhile. Whatever you're doing, make sure you're mixing it up so you don't become predictable.
- Don't get so focused on making something exactly how you wanted it that you forget to ask yourself how or why it would appeal to others.
- No matter how succesful you can get, you can still make mistakes - and forgetting this can lead to making some downright awful creations.
- You have to keep an eye on what kinds of things different people want - and remember that tastes change over time. You can't assume that all people want the same thing all the time.
- Try out new and unusual things to find out what works and what doesn't. If you don't, you'll never learn.
- It's not about making something perfect in one try. It's about making something imperfect and trying to make it better. And if it's never entirely perfect, that's okay - just try to do the best you can.
So you always should try to pay attention to what appeals to your target audience, what works for audiences right now, and where and when it works - because getting this right or not can sometimes mean the difference between wild success and total failure.
Remember, there's a lot of trial-and-error involved in becoming a good creator.
A HUGE part of the creative process is trying new kinds of stuff out to see what works and what doesn't. You have to be willing to experiment and take risks, because otherwise you'll never be able to figure it out. At best, you'll end up following some stale old formula that has little to nothing in it to get people really interested and excited. If you really want to stand out or find out what people really connect with, make an effort to try out new things in your creations - even if they seem a little bit silly or strange!
Remember, it's not about making a perfect creation at first go, but creating something imperfect and figuring out how to make it better.
For the most part, the idea of effortlessly whipping out a perfect creation at first go is nothing more than a fantasy. In reality, the creative process is more about coming up with something that's kind of bad, boring, or half-baked, then figuring out what you can do to improve it. It can take a little while before you've gotten it polished up into something good, but that's okay - that's normal! And it's okay if your final creation has flaws, too. It doesn't matter so much that your creation is absolutely perfect, but rather that the good outshines the bad enough in the eyes of your audience.
You might also be interested in:
"Is This A Good Idea For My Story/Setting/Character?" - How To Answer This For Yourself!
Dealing With Criticism & Negative Reviews
A Few Things You Really Need To Know As An Anxious Writer And/Or Artist
How To Break Your Creative Blocks