How to be a Prolific Creator (And Why)

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You can’t predict the success of your creations.

I make a lot of art, and I make a lot of content documenting my art process for social consumption. I’ve made loads of time lapse videos for social media, and occasionally a video will go viral, but most have an average performance. I never know what video will get the most views.

All I can do is continue to make and post content, which leads me to being a bit prolific as a creator. I have successes and I have work that is forgettable. I sell pieces right away, and some work can barely be given away. I’m never able predict what will happen with the creative effort I put forth, but I’m constantly hungry for the next viral video or the next art sale–so, I create, and write, and paint, and draw, and take photos, and make videos, and so on.

(A while ago, I read a blog post by James Clear about the “Equal Odds Rule”, shared by my photographer friend Barb Kellogg. It’s relevant to this post. It’s a quick read, so definitely check it out.)

The fact that I can’t predict my own success forces me to be prolific while creating and I think you should be too.

Why be a prolific creator?

  • You will increase your skills: The more you create, the more you will develop your style and your skills. You can’t expect to be good without creating a lot of crap first. Make as many creations as you can.
  • You will increase the odds that your work will get noticed: More creations mean more content to share with your audience.
  • You will have more inventory for potential sales: You can’t predict what your audience will buy, so give them more options to choose from.

How to be a prolific creator:

Did I convince you to create more work? Well here’s how to do it!

1. Start work often.

Get on a schedule. Let creating, writing, painting, or whatever discipline you practice become a routine. In inspired times and uninspired times. Taking the first step to begin a new creation can often be the hardest. Writers freeze up when they see a blinking cursor. Painters are paralyzed by a blank canvas. I get it, but if you can push yourself to start a doodle a day, a painting a week, or even three paintings a week, then you are one step closer to being prolific.

Put it on your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Do what you need to do in order to get pen to paper, or brush to canvas.

2. Withhold judgement.

It’s not your responsibility to judge the worth of your work. This will only slow you down. Plus, we can often be the worst at judging the potential success of our own creations.

I was working on a diptych a couple of months ago, and I didn’t like it at all. The colors were wrong. The design just wasn’t me. I wasn’t happy with what I saw. I didn’t think anyone would feel too excited about the duo, but I still posted a photo on social media, because I needed content. Within an hour of posting, someone reached out to me saying they loved the new work and asked if they were available for sale. I shipped both pieces two days later.

Had I listened to my judgement, I wouldn’t have put that art online. I would have missed this sale, because I would have tossed them into my ‘dud pile’ to be painted over when I ran out of new canvases. We cannot predict which of our creations will be successful, so stop judging your work and get back to creating.

3. Be efficient with your time.

Do you ever start something, work on it for a bit, then walk away when you’re fatigued or waiting for paint to dry? What do you do with your time when you walk away? Do you make a cup of tea? Scroll through social media? Get distracted with something else?

To be prolific, you need to maximize the time you have available for creating. When I’m in the studio, I start multiple pieces of art at a time. When a new paint layer on one canvas needs to dry, I pick up another canvas and start the next piece. When I have 3-4 pieces to switch between, I am able to use the dry time of one canvas to make progress on another.

If you need to take a break from your art in general and give your hands a rest, pick up another task that is related. Post a picture on social media, start a blog post, photograph finished work for your online store, etc.. Maximize the use of your time. Even if you are only working for 1 hour, don’t lose 15 minutes of that time waiting for paint to dry. It’s important to take a break, but when you give yourself 2 hours to create, I want you to utilize the entire 2 hour block of time.

4. Understand and adjust your style for speed.

All creators have their own process. Some artists spend weeks and weeks working on highly detailed works of art, and artists like me spend a week creating multiple pieces of art. I’m not asking you to rush your process, for that will definitely affect the end product, but I will ask that you find creative ways to adapt your style for speed.

If you work with large detailed art, it’s unreasonable to expect you to make multiple pieces in a week like I do. But, if you take your style and adapt it to a much smaller surface, you can create more work, faster. These pieces can be used for video content, as smaller impulse buys in your online store, or just as practice.

Continue to work on your usual creations at the pace you need to, but to be prolific, start thinking about creative ways to quickly create without losing quality. Think of it like a fun challenge.

5. Finish what you start.

Finish it. Even if you don’t like it. Even if you feel something else can be done to it. Finish the piece and move on. Take the lessons you learned to the next piece. Your definition of ‘perfect’ isn’t universal. In fact, what you see as imperfection might be exactly what your audience falls in love with.

If your work becomes too precious, and you start to stress over imperfect details, you aren’t going to finish your task. Accept when your work is good enough and move onto the next. It will never be perfect, but you can make improvements with your next piece, and your next piece, and so on.

***

What do you think? Can you start creating more? Do you see value in being a prolific creator?

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every Tuesday (…sometimes Wednesday). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

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Further Reading:
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2 thoughts on “How to be a Prolific Creator (And Why)”

  1. Kelly I always look forward to your blog posts!! They’re always always helpful and I love hearing your insight on things!!!!

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