What’s your creative resolution?

For many, the New Year is a time to make resolutions. These often involve responding the excess of the Christmas holiday season to eat healthily or exercise more.

This may have been the time of year that you first thought about signing up for your course with OCA. A new year with new plans and goals.

We asked for some ideas for creative resolutions for 2018 to make it the most productive year.

1. Make time to work

Think what works for you in your day/week. Find slots of time and try to stick to them. If necessary book them in your diary like you would a meeting or appointment. Ensuring that family and friends understand that you are studying and respect your working time is important – after all they would understand if you were attending a college one evening a week.

2. Do first, think after

Start work, don’t analyse or reflect on what you are doing. Write that first sentence, take a photograph, draw a line in a sketchbook, play a musical note. Don’t hesitate and dive straight in.

3. Push out of your comfort zone

If you are visual arts student, go to a music concert or read literature/poetry that you wouldn’t normally access. If you are music or creative writing student, go to see some textiles or illustration. If you work in two dimensions, go and look at some three-dimensional work.

Cross the boundaries and see where that takes you (and remember to include the experiences in your learning log).

4. Get organised

Find a system that works for you to track your progress. Diaries, wall charts, whiteboards all can work. Set yourself deadlines to pace your workload. Be realistic and allow for busy times and setbacks.

Creating a good pace on your course is very motivational as you can create a rhythm to your work. Track what you have done – there is nothing like crossing ‘to dos’ off a list to make you feel a sense of accomplishment.

However, do avoid the trap of spending hours and hours creating beautiful time planners without actually doing any work …

5. Give all ideas equal consideration

Never reject an idea at first. Teachers often say there are no such things as stupid questions … the same principle applies to ideas. Sometimes the ideas that lurk around in the background become the most fruitful.

Use the time on the course to experiment, to play, to take risks with your work. Often students focus on the final outcome and describe a seemingly linear approach on to how they got there.

The creative journey is often anything but linear and will twist, turn and sometimes frustratingly you end up at a dead end. Remember to document this work journey. It is often the process of producing work that we gain the most from, rather than the outcome.

6. Backing up

If you don’t have a back-up system in place then start one NOW. Not tomorrow or the day after … It is one of those neglected tasks that gets relegated and neglected, with the thought it won’t happen to me … but if data failure does occur (and it does) you will be kicking yourself for not taking action.

There are many options – cloud based, external hard drive, NAS drives, USB sticks, DVD. Whatever you choose to do, the advice from IT professionals is to use two different sources to back up to. So, what are you waiting for, get your files on your computer organised and regularly back up images, word documents and other computer files.

Don’t forget about web based content – blogs/websites. If you are typing directly into the blog/website – a simple way is to copy and paste the information into a format you can save elsewhere.

7. If you fall off the wagon …

It happens, we make a resolution and we don’t stick to it. First of all, don’t beat yourself up about it. Second, dust yourself down and start again. Think why it didn’t work and make adjustments.

In the words of Samuel Beckett:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Happy Creative 2018

Many thanks to Andrea for compiling this post and to the tutors and students who have contributed their resolutions. Add yours below or on this student discuss forum thread.


Also published on Medium.

10 Comments

  1. Josie Thomas 25 December 2017 at 4:57 pm

    From your list: the two that interested me most were:

    Do first then think. Give all ideas equal consideration.

    I am an over-thinker and find spontaneous response to those creative nudges extremely difficult. I find myself constantly thinking: But does it fit in with what they’ve asked me to do?? Doubting all the time. I’m just beginning Level 2 so it’s high time I ditched that one and had a bit more confidence in the spontaneous hunch, or random thought. Do it first, then make it fit! I think that’s my version for 2018.
    Thanks. Now I’ll read other’ comments! Happy New Year All!

    Reply
    1. Andrea 28 December 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Hi Josie – good luck with the spontaneous approach. Level 2 is good time to play around with ideas. Have a great 2018. Andrea

      Reply
  2. Sue 26 December 2017 at 11:34 am

    Hello thankyou very timely . My biggest challenge is number 1 . Many people just don’t get the importance of creative work. The times I get asked why are you doing this …. it’s a hobby ?
    It is part of me and the drive from within is strong but little understood . Therefore in all the responsibilities in life taking that time is such a challenge .

    Reply
  3. Andrea 4 January 2018 at 7:47 am

    Glad you enjoyed the post Sue. I think finding time to do the work is a very common issue and one that many (myself included) battle with. Any tips welcome!

    Reply
  4. Emma Godfrey Pigott 12 January 2018 at 6:55 am

    Really helpful timely stuff! Another tip for a quick WordPress backup on the free version is to just export your site every few months.

    Reply
    1. Andrea 15 January 2018 at 10:46 am

      Thanks for this Emma – great tip (one of my students recently lost their whole blog halfway through a course). Don’t ever think it won’t happen to you!

      Reply
  5. Annette Bruton 14 January 2018 at 10:40 am

    Having fallen off the time planning wagon so many times I really appreciated this article. Very timely as we all pick ourselves up for the start of a new calendar year and feel the shoots of optimism pushing through. One of advantages for me at level 2 is that I’ve had the scheduling problems we all have with our time pressured lives and know I’ve got through it in the past. The advice about just do something is very good. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Andrea 15 January 2018 at 10:48 am

      Glad to hear you appreciated the post Annette. One of the easiest traps to fall into, is the ‘I will do it tomorrow’ … and suddenly you have a backlog of work that feels like a mountain. Doing something, however small means you are more likely to keep going. Good luck with Level 2.

      Reply
  6. Robert 15 January 2018 at 9:23 am

    My resolution – get my reports in on time! (sorry Keith). Thanks Andrea.

    Reply
    1. Andrea 15 January 2018 at 10:50 am

      Sharing the sentiments Robert …. January influx in full swing here 😉

      Reply

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