Enjoy the Plateau



Updated November 3, 2022

You’re reading an excerpt of Creative Doing, by Herbert Lui. 75 practical techniques to unlock creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career. Purchase now for instant, lifetime access to the book.

Mastering any skill, including all forms of creative work, means spending a lot of time moving forward slowly. The spurts of growth are very occasional, perhaps even rare. Instead, day in and day out, we are working. We are practicing. “At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path,” writes martial artist and author George Leonard.

Make your practice enjoyable. Don’t obsess over improving, or whether someone else is better or worse than you in some way. Stay focused on your own skill set and craft. Perhaps it means changing your environment or schedule. It could also mean switching the routine or the sources of inspiration.

If you find yourself wrestling with metrics such as likes, shares, and comments, check out why three creators ignore the stats and some alternate ways of measuring success. You can also choose to set a mission for your work.

Relax Expectations

With vision comes expectations. We believe this project will be the one that enables us to break through. It would be weird if we didn’t—there might be less of a point in working on it. This expectation can serve as an occasional fuel, but more often gets in the way of us doing our best work. It’s where many creative blocks start.

“It’s important to keep the ideas going. A lot of times, you can’t get too worried about the results. I’m in a business where basically I get hired and fired as soon as a song comes out,” Dacoury Natche told me in an interview for this book.

Chris Kim, who produces music under the name CVRE, is known best for making songs with artists like Justin Bieber, Future, and Don Toliver. Based on his wide range of musical experiences, he observed to me, “Expectation always kills creativity. … You expect a certain result and you have to achieve that industrial definition of success that always kills the magic that could happen in the unknown.”

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