Things I learned in 2017, part 1: creativity

This year I didn’t spend very much time on (new) personal projects, but I had a crazy growth in my professional and personal development, so I thought I’d write about that.

It became a very long post, so I’ve divided it up into a trilogy. Read part 2 and part 3 here. Today, we’re looking at creativity:

Art begets emotion.

I’ve been working at Yoast for two and a half years now. That’s twice as long as my longest job before this. I wondered why that is.

On one side, it’s the people for sure, but the other side is that I have much less of an emotional attachment to my work here – okay that sounded bad, maybe objectivity is a better term to use. Art to me is synonymous with emotion and opinion, while UX is based on facts and metrics. That’s why my energy doesn’t get drained if people don’t like a design: it doesn’t come from a personal place as much as art does. If an interface doesn’t work or is not accessible, sure, I’ll change it as many times as is needed. It’s easier to be less precious about the result. And I like that.

Consumers can be cool.

The same applies to the audience. Game enthusiasts can nitpick every little thing, and condemn your work and its value if they don’t like it. But working for a well-run and well-meaning company like Yoast, things seem dramatically different. Sure, people complain if something is broken, but we also get a lot of happy people leaving a review. And they might also drop a couple thousand dollars because they appreciate the value add of your product. It’s real nice to work in a community like that.

Creativity needs fuel.

I’ve always known this instinctually, but to be creative you need fuel. This means consuming content that excites you artistically- movies, games, books, music, but also going outside, traveling, talking to friends, or playing with animals. It’s good to realize this consciously, so that when you get stuck working on something or feel drained, you know you gotta go and live more, gather more experiences.

I have too many interests.

I have a wide variety of things I find interesting, and therefore a wide variety of activities to fill my time – gamedev, illustration, webdev, writing, playing video games, watching movies, making music, podcasting, traveling, and I recently added photography and acting to that list. This means I always have something to do that gives me energy. But this breadth of options also means I rarely dedicate enough time to succeed in any of these areas, or progress in areas where I’m already succeeding stagnates. I want to do better in 2018 by focusing on just a few of these. I’ll be writing about that in a future post.

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