Every creation in the realm of nerdom started with a single crazy idea. Right? I mean, how many eureka moments started percolating in the average Joe Shmoe’s head while he was brushing his teeth one morning? And I imagine more than one lightbulb came on in someone’s noggin while doing dishes or emptying a litterbox.
I’m a strong believer in pushing yourself creatively, because I don’t think creativity has any limits. If you’re feeling a little stuck in your creative process, here are some wise tidbits from just “ordinary” folks who probably worked a day job at one point in their lives, and who we now consider a few (and only a few) of the most expressive and innovative minds in the sphere of geekery.
1. Be weird.
“Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset.” –Joss Whedon
If Joss didn’t hone in on his own weirdness, we would have no Firefly, no Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, no Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And who else would have come up with these stories? Probably no one. So what is it that makes you “weird”? What makes your brain bubble up and brood? You never know who will relate to your weirdness, and you’ll never know if you don’t express it.
2. Be open.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” –Stephen Hawking
Dr. Hawking may have been referring to something else with this thought, but here’s how I interpret it. In any field, whether you’re a n00b or an expert, there will always be something to learn. The temptation (for me anyway) when entering a new field is to try to impress. It’s to act like I have all the know-how I need. That, my friends, is rooted in a little thing called pride, and it will get you absolutely nothing but a bad reputation and a slap in the face. Acknowledging some level of ignorance (because no one knows everything… except maybe Sherlock) allows your mind to open up and be willing to learn more, but putting on the illusion of knowledge often closes doors to the new and brilliant things you would otherwise encounter.
3. Be brave.
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you’ve lived so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” –J.K. Rowling.
Failure is scary. No one wants to feel the sting of rejection or the pain of casual dismissal. But you know what? J.K. Rowling’s works were turned down by publishers for years before Harry Potter came onto the literary scene. The Beatles were brushed off by many a record label because “guitar bands were on their way out.” Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who thought he “lacked imagination.” Fred Astaire was dismissed by MGM in 1933 with this memo: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” I could go on, but my point is that failure didn’t stop them. Why should it stop you? Like the old Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
4. Work hard.
“Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” – George Lucas
Or as George put another way, “Do or do not. There is no try.” With creativity comes hard work, and we can’t allow ourselves to be frustrated with a lack of results if we weren’t even working that hard in the first place. Set a reasonable goal and then stick to it. Be intentional with your time and get away from distractions (that means turning off the computer and getting away from the television for a while).
5. Keep going.
“Little by little, one travels far.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Everything won’t happen overnight. Sometimes it takes a little while, and sometimes you owe it to yourself to take a break and go for a long walk or listen to your favorite song. It’s easy to fall back into the “grind” and forget the goals we set early on. But even if you make a tiny bit of progress just one day at a time, you won’t regret it. Why? Because one year from now, you’ll have wished you started today.
P.S. This nerd hero LOVES quotes, so if you have any to add, please feel free.