It's not always as simple as "show up every day".
Advancing your craft takes focus, dedicated training, and resources that many people tend to overlook when they're trying to learn a new skill.
When we don't direct our practices or create reference points for comparison, we often end up feeling stuck - like we're simply going through the motions with no tangible improvements in sight.
Here are a few simple ideas to help get you out of that "forever stuck" feeling we all slip into sometimes.
1. Consume What You Are Creating
It's not all about what you are making. Talented & successful people surround themselves with more talented & successful people, and you should be doing the same with your work.
Listen to the music you want to make. Follow all of the artists, makers, and doers who inspire you. Find new people, publications or ideas that you consider great.
Take at least 30 minutes a day to consume whatever it is you're trying to get better at, and try to really understand why that medium or product makes you feel how it does.
Doing this will not only make your work better, it'll bring you closer to the community of people who share in your goals.
2. Truly, Deeply Give a Shit
The world is already filled with shitty products, shitty commercials, and shitty websites made by people who only want to make a quick buck.
Today's audience can smell the "I could care less" factor from a mile away, and doing anything based solely on the notion you'll make a bunch of money and be the coolest kid from your hometown is a surefire way to suck at it.
Make the stuff that fires you up, and throw away everything else. Get rid of all the things you do without sincerity.
If you can't bring yourself to finish it, why would anyone else want to?
3. Always Consider Message Over Form
People are always so quick to bash the newest trends in form - listicles, tweeting, blogging, you name it. I'm sure in 1440 there were letter purists who weren't fucking with the print press either.
The medium always embeds within it the affordances of the medium. Video tells a story from a primarily visual, optical point-of-view. Writing affords more nonlinear, abstract storytelling that relies on imagination. Basically, all formats & platforms contain elements that only they can do. All great storytellers know this.
The message is still the message, though.
What you're trying to say - or the story you're trying to tell, is still the most important piece of the puzzle. All the HD graphics in the world can't make a shitty story beautiful (see Transformers).
Don't get too caught up in form. Styles and frameworks for media consumption are always going to change. The (very) human need for meaningful, intimate storytelling won't.
4. Plagiarize Feelings, Not Products
Stealing somebody's idea is flat-out wrong, but stealing the feeling behind it is pretty much the core aspect of creativity.
I listen to a lot of Chet Faker. I'm not going to ever try to make his style of music - it's his style, and the world has enough mimicry as it is.
I am, however, always keeping myself aware of the feelings & emotions his music ignites, and trying to make content that elicits similar emotions.
His music makes me feel inspired. His music makes me feel like there's more to life and art than what lies at the facade. These are the feelings that I myself try to articulate in my writing and art, using different methods & mediums.
Take a closer look at your favorite art, music, books, and movies. What is it about them that you find so powerful? Why are you so deeply attached to them?
Whatever your answer is, do that.
Always remember that your creativity is a muscle, and the best way to keep it strong is to flex it every day.
With these tips & tricks, you should be well on your way to flexing it in a focused, dedicated direction that drives results.