The best advice I could give anyone about creating is to do it like it will cure Zombiepocalypse. Imagine that your creative gifts are the only thing that will save the human race from destruction. The (real) world is full of downers, doubters, and dismissers who will line up to tell you that your work, and by extension you, don’t matter. Ignore them completely. No one gives us the right to create: we have to take it. Take your work seriously and treat it with the respect it deserves.
I’m not a fan of zombie culture, but I respect the sh** out of it. Humans need powerful tools to help us work out primal fears and secret dreams. We’ve been doing this through storytelling, myth, and performance since the dawn of time, and it’s part of the reason why the instinct to create art is so strong in the human race. Zombies are the mother of all metaphors. They were US, they died, they’ve been reborn and are essentially un-killable. On top of everything else, they’re infecting us survivors with their horrible fate. What a terrifying and humbling prospect! Having “a plan for Zombiepocalypse” has become a popular form of social conversation, and it’s heartening to know that at least some of us are planning to survive whatever the future brings. If a Zombiepocalypse (or any other kind) ever comes to pass, we will each have to find and/or create our own role in the aftermath.
Some people believe that creativity, specifically the arts, are not vital to human survival. These people are not worth your time. More to the point: they are dead wrong. Our creative instincts and artistic abilities are hardwired into our brains to help us solve the most complex and life-threatening problems, under extreme pressure, with the clock ticking. Your ability to step back, take a deep breath, and send your mind on a nice whooshy daydream is your brain’s way of unlocking answers that would otherwise be unavailable. Creative innovation comes from releasing our grip on what we think SHOULD work and allowing ourselves to dream about what COULD work. There are a thousand famous examples of this phenomenon in science, technology, and medicine, not to mention all the extraordinary artists whose work forces us out of ourselves and into a holy and vital state of wonder.
So create like it will save the human race. You don’t have to broadcast your belief about your creativity’s magic powers to the world. You can hold it inside and let it guide and inform you silently. You certainly don’t want it hanging over you like a heavy shroud when you’re creating. Work with a light touch and a steady hand. Stay open and curious, and leave time for daydreaming. Breathe deeply, and stretch sometimes. Work with purpose and determination, and know that your creative efforts are a form of service to humanity. You can call on your creative instincts anytime, anywhere, for help with all kinds of problems. Keep them sharp and ready.