Every new year is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and awaken your inner artist, writer or musician. But daydreaming about these pursuits is often easier than diving into them. To get advice on making creative dreams happen, I spoke with artists who achieve theirs on a daily basis. Their tips may encourage you to dust off your old notepad, sketchpad or instrument and create something you can be proud of this year.
How to Use Your Senses to Keep Your Resolution
Robert Cendedella, artist
“As an instructor at the Art Students League, I find many people start with the attitude that they don’t have ‘talent.’ My belief is that everyone has some talent if they explore what they can do rather than focus on what they can’t do. Try other genres or mediums. Many times, inspiration strikes when you challenge yourself. Any artist is going to be self-critical, especially when starting out. It is important not to give in to self-doubt and abandon a project because of certain aspects that may not be working. The key is to step back and isolate working in a painting or drawing, no matter how small, and build on that.”
Mark Weiser, owner and performer at Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos
“The world won’t give you a break, so sometimes, you have to put the brakes on your day and make an island of time to work on your own projects. Sometimes, nothing comes of it except sitting at the piano, but the first really important step is allowing for the ideas to come and creating that space so you can focus on your creative self. This discipline is a necessary regimen so your brain can be trained to release the stresses of other matters and re-center on creating.
Patrisa Tomassini, violinist, lead of Quartetto Tomassini
“Traveling is what recharges me. I draw creativity from the beautiful people around me and reading. I especially love going on cruises as I don’t have to think much about the mundane; I just show up and all is done for me. Spending endless hours staring at the open sea is a great way to relax and recharge, which can spark creativity.”
Lorenza Ponce, violinist, Quartetto Tomassini
“When I’m not performing, I go to my farm in Maryland and recharge myself and spark my creativity by immersing myself in nature. I am a beekeeper. This hobby takes me out of my own head and connects me to the larger picture: the inherent beauty of our planet. Music is a part of that.”
Joanie Accollo, artist and co-founder of Healing Headbands
Treat yourself to a new journal—something to which you are drawn and something you’ll love to look at every day. Then, start to write. Write down your dreams without any filter. It’s guaranteed there are hundreds of other people in the world with a similar dream to yours. Find your “Fab Five” like-minded people who share a dream that’s similar to yours and start connecting. The smallest of ideas and dreams can turn into great big ones when you’re fully equipped with a blueprint, building materials and personal support.
Bree Klauser, lead singer of Bree and The Whatevers
“It’s all about going with the creative inspiration when it hits you, whether it is in the shower, at work or in transit…I find that in those moments when a song seed pops in my head, I need to stop everything I am doing and sing that melody quietly into a recorder on my iPhone or scribble down those lyrics or chords. Then, when I feel like I am in a similar headspace, I begin to develop those seeds by sitting down with an instrument or collaborating with a group of musicians…Also, try not to put yourself in a box as to how the song should turn out. It’s fine to write with a particular genre or arrangement in mind, but don’t feel like anything about a song has to be a certain way. At the end of the day, you are the only arbiter of your own creative guidelines.”
Susan Beallor-Snyder, artist
“In addition to artist, I am also a wife, mother, daughter and friend. Wearing so many hats at once has created obligations that prevent me from focusing on the creativity that is required for my artwork. While trying not to sacrifice my family and social life, I have learned that solitude is a crucial factor in my creative process. In one of my favorite books, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, the author states, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” This coming year, I have decided to create a schedule where I devote certain days to studio time, no matter what comes up elsewhere in my life. Giving myself this more structured routine will allow me to fully focus on the creative process.”
Mikel Paris, keyboardist for O.A.R and creator of the PBS show TuneTrek: History Through Music
“My best work comes out when I’m not forcing myself to be creative. Allow yourself the freedom of pursuing the creative spark whenever it happens. I have a voice memo app on the home screen of my phone and whenever an idea comes into my brain, I repeat the idea until I’ve recorded it. Continue to follow that spark until you’ve gotten all of the idea out, and then name the memo, back it up to the cloud and continue on with your day (or night if the spark came while sleeping, which happens to me often). You never know when something will stimulate your creativity. It could be the rhythm of the subway or the way the light is hitting a building. The important thing is to allow the idea to flow unedited while you are in that moment of creation.”
Rotem Ohayon, gallery coordinator of Jojo Gallery
“Don’t try to reinvent yourself! Use what you already have to be more creative. New Year’s resolutions do not resonate with me. There is a reason why every year we promise ourselves the same things that we will most likely never do. Try to look at the things you have accomplished this year. See what you have learned from each [of your experiences], and take those insights into this upcoming year. I’m sure you will be surprised by your own achievements and it will inspire you going forward.”