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How To Take Any Creative Skill To The Next Level

by Connie Lykke. |

As a creative actively pursuing your passion, you might soon find that you’ve reached a point where you feel stuck at your current skill level. This is because unlike scientific or technical pursuits, creative skills tend to plateau easier. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can overcome this plateau and break through to the next level in virtually any creative skill.

1. Hone related skills

Learn a thing or two about the set of skills in the periphery of your main skill. This can help a lot in breaking through the ceiling of virtually any creative skill or field, whether it’s writing, electric guitar, singing, painting, or sculpture. Branching out to hone skills related to your main instrument or medium shows you how much more you can explore at your current level of mastery. For instance, as the multi-talented singer and rapper Zamaera proves, the human voice is the single most diverse instrument in any musician’s repertoire. By learning how to use her voice in different ways, Zamaera has a larger musical arsenal from which she can trace new creative paths, a benefit that’s useful for any musician in any genre. Outside singing and music, investing in skills related to your mastery and field can be a good way to improve any creative skillset.

2. Embrace discomfort and dive into the unknown

Source: Romina Caluste

Whether it’s discovering previously unexplored genres or themes of art, collaborating with other artists, or using unfamiliar tools, embracing the unknown can push any artist to the next level. Known for his aggressive guitar playing as the frontman of An Honest Mistake, Darren Teh would not have been able to collaborate with musicians from around the world had he not looked outside himself and even outside his own band to produce their self-titled album. The 16-track album is the product of An Honest Mistake collaborating with different artists from Asia. Teh is also known for experimenting with different reverb, delay, and overdrive pedals, constantly finding new effects units that can allow him to further collaborate with others and explore different genres. And in this exploration, Teh and his band have been able to delve into electronic and R&B sounds that are stylistically very different from their initial pop-rock flavour. Take the time to step outside yourself, collaborate with your fellows, try your hand at things you’re not already good at, and you might be surprised at what you’re able to do.

3. Always find time to practice

Devote as many hours to practice as you can. With constant practice and repetition comes mastery, and with mastery comes a world of possibilities. Painter Vivian Ng Suet Yuan took repetition to another level when she created a portrait of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Malaysia, using only her thumb. Repeatedly pressing her thumb on the canvas, her thumbprint is her only brush, a unique method which she mastered after hours of practice, as well as the perfect metaphor for a portrait of Rahman. Through constant practice and repetition, you can more easily see the many paths, techniques, and unique concepts that you can potentially work with.

4. Embrace criticism and self-criticism

This is a particularly hard ability to develop in the creative fields, but once you can find the value in any type of criticism headed your way, you might just chance upon genius decisions. Had Tan Twan Eng not listened to his publisher’s critique about including a map in his debut novel, he wouldn’t have been pushed to draw the map of Peninsular Malaysia and Penang himself, which would’ve deprived audiences of his full storytelling capacity in his award-winning novel The Gift of Rain. Known for being a perfectionist about the lyrical quality of his writing and ensuring that his new work pushes the boundaries of literature, even Eng knows that there’s almost always wisdom to be gleaned from any criticism of one’s creative work.

Whatever type of creative skill you're trying to hone, there's always a way to take it to the next level. As long as you can embrace healthy criticism, practice consistently, hone skills in the periphery, and have no fear of exploring the unknown, you can break through any glass ceiling and realize your true potential.

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