5 Reasons Why Everyone Needs A Creative Pursuit
What we learned at Drive School, our Sydney free event in partnership with Toyota Yaris: ‘Why everyone needs a creative pursuit’.
Some of us need to be creative in our careers, some of us squeeze some creative hobbies into our free time, and some of us think of creativity as a distant memory from childhood, unsure if we still have it in us. But creativity isn’t some mythical gift with finite boundaries. Anyone can be creative; you just need to make time, find out what you enjoy making and have some fun.
In partnership with Toyota Yaris, we assembled a panel of inspiring people to discuss and field questions about their creative pursuits for Drive School. Declan Melia – singer and guitarist of British India – hosted the evening, and the panel was made up of dancer and choreographer Amrita Hepi; former Olympian turned Cabaret Performer Matthew Mitcham; together with Calligrapher and owner of the blackline, Lauren Hung.
Declan defines creativity as “something within yourself”, while Matthew considers creativity to be “the one fundamentally human characteristic that we have”. Creativity is essential, so it’s lucky we’re all essentially creative.
Here are five things we learned at Drive School.
#1 A creative pursuit doesn’t need to be a money maker, it can be your solace
Matthew Mitcham was the first openly gay man to win an Olympic gold medal. Under immense stress and pressure in both his career and personal life, creativity became his respite. Music was “wonderful for my balance and mental health,” Matthew says. In addition to improving his happiness, music became the vehicle through which he ultimately shared his story with the world.
Matthew is an example of the fact that you don’t need much money to start exploring your creative impulse: he bought a $24 ukulele and taught himself to play. And once he retired from competitive diving, it would be this unassuming instrument that would star in his award-winning theatre and cabaret performances.
Amrita says that you need to decide if your creative pursuit is going to be something you do for fun or as a side project, or if you want to turn it into a career. Both have extreme value, but becoming clear on that will help you understand the path you need to take to pursue it.
#2 Inspiration is a big part of the process, and it’s different for everyone
“[Creativity is] not about nailing something,” says Amrita, “It’s about a feeling of self expression.” And an integral part of self-expression is inspiration.
It’s a feeling everyone who’s had a crack at something creative knows all too well; that when you get into ‘the zone’, your work is on another level. So we try to reach that place, and can easily despair and want to give up when we don’t.
Lauren says the best way to get through a block is by re-jigging your day and doing something different to the norm. “I’ll go for a 45-minute run and listen to a podcast to drive inspiration,” she says. And Lauren is onto something. Going for a run or creating a break from routine helps refresh and reset your perspective. Author and clinical psychologist Chris Friesen says, “When you run, you create space in your brain for processing ideas, either your own ideas or the ideas of others.”
Matthew feels that inspiration can be found everywhere and strike at any moment – so he’s always taking down notes and has Post It notes all over his house, ready to jot down whatever trickles through.
If you think this means you can take it easy because there’s no point doing anything unless you’re inspired, Amrita has a message for you. “Inspiration isn’t always a ‘grand shock’,” she says. “It often comes from chipping away at something”. Practicing your craft, no matter what it is, creates the perfect launch pad for inspired thinking.
#3 Don’t forget about creative thinking
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that creativity is all about painting or dancing or making art. Sometimes even planning to be creative or giving your brain a timeout can lead to whole new ways of thinking, before you’ve even made a move. Lauren emphasises, “creative thinking is just as important as creative doing”. Amrita adds, “Creativity requires critical thought.”
If creativity essentially comes down to action spurred from a particular mindset, then alternate thinking patterns become important. And this doesn’t just apply to making things; it can even apply to everyday situations and corporate jobs. It’s seeing a task, problem or idea from a different perspective – and you’ll be surprised at how innovative your ideas can become.
Making money from your creativity isn’t just about the creative act itself, either. Matthew explains the beauty and opportunity in sharing knowledge as another avenue for income generation, something he acknowledges both Lauren and Amrita exemplify; they run workshops and dance classes respectively.
#4 One thing always leads to another
Amrita describes creativity as a “living organism” which will grow and change as you continue to explore it. “Through collaboration, your creative pursuit will lead you to other passions,” she explains. You can’t use up all your creativity; it isn’t a finite resource – it just changes shape over time.
Lauren knows this to be true. She never started out knowing she’d own a typography and calligraphy business successful enough to give up a 9-to-5 career. It was something she just used to do as a kid, and it all started on a plane. Lauren was doodling on paper to pass the time, and remembers people commenting on how good her drawings were. It would be many years before she decided to explore that avenue again, one which is the basis of her career today. “Everything leads into something else,” says Lauren. “Passions change; nothing is forever.”
#5 If you really want your pursuit to work, you better make time for it
Whether or not you want your creative pursuit to become your main gig, many of us feel like making time for it after work is an impossible ask. Lauren sympathises, remembering coming home absolutely exhausted – but through that exhaustion she would sit, wiling away on her creative work well into the night.
It’s quite cut and dry when it comes down to it. “If you’re in a position where you have to pursue your creative pursuit, then you make it happen,” she says. Discipline isn’t the fun part, but it gets results.
If you worry that wanting to do something else means doing it right away but you’re not in a financial position to do so, you needn’t stress. You should carefully plan your transition. Lauren moonlit for nine months before she felt things were at a point where she could focus solely on her creative work.
Both Amrita and Lauren believe in prioritising your pursuit. Amrita feels that we need to “reinvest back into ourselves as artists and creators.” And all panellists agree with Amrita’s sentiment that even though you might fail, you have to take the risk. Creativity is life.
Watch the video of the night here – and if you’re in Melbourne and Brisbane, you’re in luck: we’ll be throwing a Drive School event in both cities later this year.