The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.
The practice is a big part. The second part of it, which I think is really critical, is understanding that being creative means that you have to sell your ideas. If you’re a professional, you do not get to say, “Ugh, now I have to go sell it”—selling it is part of it because if you do not sell it, there is no art. No fair embracing one while doing a sloppy job on the other.
The reason you might be having trouble with your practice in the long run—if you were capable of building a practice in the short run—is nearly always because you are afraid. The fear, the resistance, is very insidious. It doesn’t leave a lot of fingerprints, but the person who manages to make a movie short that blows everyone away but can’t raise enough cash to make a feature film, the person who gets a little freelance work here and there but can’t figure out how to turn it into a full-time gig—that person is practicing self-sabotage. These people sabotage themselves because the alternative is to put themselves into the world as someone who knows what they are doing. They are afraid that if they do that, they will be seen as a fraud. It’s incredibly difficult to stand up at a board meeting or a conference or just in front of your peers and say, “I know how to do this. Here is my work. It took me a year. It’s great.”
This is hard to do for two reasons:
(1) it opens you to criticism, and
(2) it puts you into the world as someone who knows what you are doing, which means tomorrow you also have to know what you are doing, and you have just signed up for a lifetime of knowing what you are doing.
It’s much easier to whine and sabotage yourself and blame the client, the system, and the economy. This is what you hide from—the noise in your head that says you are not good enough, that says it is not perfect, that says it could have been better.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by Jocelyn K. Glei