Ignore the Stats

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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.

Everyone creates for different reasons; some of us might do it to be seen, read, heard, or felt. And while this deep connection can be incredibly rewarding and meaningful, the pressure of increasing expectations, social engagement, and sales that often represent it can crush the joy out of creativity.

Before author Mason Currey published his Daily Rituals series of books, he says in an interview with me, “I had, literally, 12 readers for like a year and a half. It was just my coworkers and my family.” His first book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, has now been reviewed over 17,000 times on Goodreads.* When I asked artist Shantell Martin—who has 250,000 followers across YouTube and Instagram—about her analytics, she said, “I don’t pay any attention to that stuff.”

“The most important thing I can tell you is to relish writing in obscurity,” author Michelle Kuo said to me in an interview. “I feel that I was the happiest as a writer when I was in hiding, when I was invisible, when I was secretly writing, stealing away portions of time at work, or writing on scraps of paper, or forming sentences in my head on the commute. That was a time before I had published really anything and before I even thought my writing would become a book, I was just trying to organize or to create order in my emotional life.”

Kuo recalls focusing, instead, on simpler metrics: “​​Am I writing?” “Am I showing up?” “Am I discovering something new about these experiences or about this world?” “Am I having new encounters alone?” These types of qualitative metrics, more grounded in the process than the outcome, will enable you to get back to what really matters: your creative work. Remember to enjoy the plateau.

See the Vision

Martial artist George Leonard quotes Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Mastery: “All I know is that the first step is to create the vision, because when you see the vision there—the beautiful vision—that creates the ‘want power.’ For example, my wanting to be Mr. Universe came about because I saw myself so clearly, being up there on the stage and winning.”

Picture the final version of your project, or the specific accomplishment you want. You can put it all on a vision board, collaging images of your vision together. Or, you can write it down in your journal. You can also make it more formal and concrete, writing it down as a press release like the Amazon team does.

Align your energy all towards the same goal. Aim it. And then fire. Or, in Zen fashion, forget about the goal, and let the unconscious deal with it.

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