RETURN AND REPORT
Another great insight into creation comes from a universal principle of improvement that I like to call Return and Report. When you return from a trip or complete a project, you report on your execution. In a nutshell, it's accountability. If I may be so bold as to say that NOTHING will push you forward as a creator like being accountable to an outside source. Find a helpmeet in your creative work and make yourself accountable.
FIND A HELPMEET
Entrepreneurs and CEO's put together mastermind groups and boards of directors. If you're a creator, you need to find a helpmeet. The term helpmeet is a nod to my wife, but married, unmarried, or whatever, find someone that has a vested interest in your success and make yourself accountable to them. This person shouldn't put up with bulls*#t excuses (we all have them) yet offer suggestions for growth and improvement. For me, I need someone outside of the creativity game that won't sympathize with my fears and excuses. I need someone that won't tell me how to create, but rather how to execute and deliver.
Involve this person as you plan and prepare. Involve them as you execute on your plan. And finally, involve them as you survey your final deliverable. Review the project from start to finish and find where you failed and where you succeeded. Identify what things to change and find what's next for you.
In photography school we had critiques for every assignment. You had an assignment, a deadline, a deliverable, and a final review of your work. Sound like a familiar workflow? I can't overstate how helpful this was for me in pushing my own boundaries and taking risks. In fact, it was so helpful that each week I contact 1-2 photographers/editors/creatives that I respect and whose work I admire, and I solicit a critique of 2 of my images. I don't always get a response, but when I do, I read, re-read, and read again what they say. They took time out of their busy day to look at my work and offer their suggestions. It's a look at success from a perspective outside your own. From the right source, that's worth its weight in gold!
If I want praise for my work I go to my mom (thanks mom). If I want criticism and hard suggestions for improvement from someone that sees the work as it is, not as an extension of me, I go to an outside source.
Bottom line, have a plan and execute on that plan while taking creative liberties and risks. From there, review what you did and how you did it and then make the next plan.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.