If you're a new creative entrepreneur looking for your unique point of view, these 5 tips are how you uncover what makes you one-of-a-kind.
Whether you’re a writer, an artist, an entrepreneur, a musician, or any other creative type, I’m betting you’ve fallen into the comparison trap at some point or another.
You know the game, don’t you? The one where you look around and wonder to yourself, Where in the world do I fit into this saturated sea of talent?
— The perspective that people will come to know you for. BUT, you don’t know where to start.
I remember when I finally decided to start working as a commercial beauty & fashion photographer in 2010, I would see the work of some of my favorite beauty and fashion photographers, and think, Everyone have such a distinctive thumbprint to their body of work. I wanted that for myself. I quickly realize authenticity, unique creative vision, and finding my personalized lighting recipe were my keys to success.
The following five tips are the ways that I’ve been able to uncover the unique creative voice inside myself, and I hope they serve as guideposts for you to do the same.
1. Create more than you consume.
This is probably the most important point and the one from which the rest all stem. Consumption can be a great thing because it gives our creative brains some fantastic stuff to chew on—inspiration to form future connections.
However, if you’re heavy on the consumption end of the spectrum – in other words, if you’re taking in more than you’re putting in – you’re going to clog those creative parts of your brain with other people’s work. If you want to discover your style and voice, the simple answer is this: make more stuff. And certainly, at the very least, make more stuff than you see or read or analyze.
2. Limit your opportunities to imitate.
This one is probably an extension of the former point, but more specifically, you have to crack down on the inner comparison glutton in you.
Limit your temptation to imitate by removing your opportunities to consume.
Listen, I get it, this seems counterintuitive. If you’re an artist and you like the work of another artist, you’re going to want to follow them on Instagram. If you’re a blogger, you’re going to subscribe to the blogs of other writers you enjoy. BUT, what I’m suggesting is that until you feel you have a handle on what makes you unique, it’s in your best interest to unfollow, unsubscribe and cut the inspiration from your life. Temporarily, I promise. Only until you find security and confidence in your perspective.
In 2018, when I decided I wanted to start a weekly podcast with creative inspiration and knowledge sharing on how to grow in creative based business, do you know what I did? I unsubscribed from every inspiring newsletter and podcast that came to my inbox because I had to discover MY voice and I knew that if my email was constantly being flooded with reminders of someone else’s voice, it would prevent me from finding my own.
3. Establish consistency and keep yourself accountable.
Consistency is key when you’re trying to cultivate any sort of creative discovery. I truly believe that your voice shows up when you create momentum for it to arrive. What did Picasso say?
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Yes, a thousand times YES!
I’m a huge fan of 30-day challenges because I feel 30 days is long enough to see improvement, form a habit, and see progress, but short enough to feel that you can accomplish a goal.
I can assure you that if you commit to creating your art for 30 days—whether that’s writing a blog post, making a piece of art, doing a small video, etc.—when you emerge you’ll have a MUCH better idea of what your unique tone and style is. But the key is sticking to it and finding some sort of accountability to keep creating.
4. Leave room for growth.
Now, consistency is fantastic and I definitely recommend giving yourself a time frame or some sort of parameters to your creative process. However, there’s just one caveat to that strategy that I have to mention.
As much as it’s important to hone your skills and refine your voice as it sits right now, you also have to be aware that your true creative voice might be just on the other side of your current comfort zone.
I think of it like this: Many big Fortune 500 companies have their formula for how they run their business and how they grow year after year. Each year it’s their goal to execute this formula well and keep that growth alive. However, the really good companies have something like an “innovation” budget or department.
The goal of this line item is to keep pushing the envelope, to keep seeing what’s possible. You have to view your creativity the same way. Yes, it’s your intention to cultivate your voice as you know it right now and to keep honing your craft (see #3 above). BUT make sure you leave room for growth and innovation. Make sure you’re experimenting too because that could lead you to something that’s truly original.
Try a new medium, think outside your typical box, explore a completely different style than you’re used to once in a while. This will give your creativity the breath of fresh air it needs to come to life.
5. Remove self-judgment.
Self-doubt is the thief of art and of growth. Create an environment in your own mind where no idea is a bad idea. This is easier said than done, sure, but it’s the only way to truly push the boundaries and see what your inner creative voice is telling you. Maybe 90% of the art you make during this exploration phase is crap. And that’s okay. Why? Because that 90% could lead to the 10% that’s pure gold. Write with abandon, make art that doesn’t make sense, do it all FREELY and know that eventually you’ll find the inner voice inside.
Also be aware of the “Imposter Syndrome”. Let me explain what it is, it is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". This is found in many creative psychi, both hobbyist and professional, trained and untrained, new and old, so don’t be afraid to admit that pose a problem for you.
There you have it, my five top tips for uncovering your unique creative voice. The underlying theme here, of course, is simply this: get out there and make more stuff.
Create from your heart, from what you feel, and not from what you think other people will like. That’s when you’ll stumble upon what makes you truly original.