I’d like to start today’s article off by clarifying its tone and subject matter: This is 100% a personal piece. It’s not an op-ed. It’s not a Top 10 list. It’s not an informative history lesson. It’s not a Starting Five (even though we’ve had several great ones grace these pages in the past few weeks).
This is just me, Ross, looking back over the last four years of my site, KicksOneTwo. Now is a time for recollection and reflection, as I relocated to New York this past week to work as a junior editor for SneakerNews, a brand that I’ve loved since I was a Jordan-obsessed 9th grader working at Champs Sports who always paired his kicks with oversized tees and baggy basketball shorts (I really thought I was killing it too).
The new job doesn’t mean that KicksOneTwo is getting shut down permanently … it just means that there’s going to be significantly less content on these pages, as my energy will now be focused on creating fresh original content for SneakerNews.
I’d have never thought when I started KicksOneTwo as a way to share what I knew and thought about sneakers/street culture as well as save my sanity (I was working an awful office job at the time) that I’d be afforded an opportunity like this. I also didn’t know how much I’d learn about hard work, perseverance, and the creative process when developing content, even when I wasn’t feeling the slightest bit creative. I just did it because I love sneakers, I love street culture, and I love writing. It’s really as simple as that. KicksOneTwo was, is, and will continue to be (albeit in a diminished role) a labor of love.
So I’m sharing what I learned over the past four years of running KicksOneTwo here with you today. I’d assume that many of you, the KicksOneTwo family, engage in creative pursuits, and no matter if it’s writing, music, photography, fashion or something else entirely, I support it 100% and want to help you succeed and thrive in your chosen creative field. The best way I can do that is by sharing what I know and what I have learned … so I’m going to do just that today. If any knowledge that I’ve gained over the course of running KicksOneTwo can help you in any way possible, I’d be thrilled. Let’s get right down to it.
Sneaker in Charleston, SC. One of my favorite stores I’ve ever visited.
A creative pursuit isn’t always just a fun hobby. If you want to get good (and stay good) at your pursuit no matter what it may be, then you simply have to understand that there’s a lot of hard work involved. It’s not rainbows, flowers, accolades, and affirmation all the time. There’s many a long day and a sleepless night, even if you think what you’re doing comes easy to you. Creativity isn’t a switch you can just flip on and off whenever you see fit. There are times when passion can be challenged. Then, discipline and hard work both prove to be pretty useful companions.
When that creative switch is in the “off” position (which I can guarantee will happen to you sooner or later), you’ve just got to force yourself to get that work in. It’s not fun or easy … but something that’s truly worth doing isn’t always going to be easy. Plus, if you can make yourself push through the dry times, then the good times will be even more fruitful. Your best work will usually come after your worst bricks. The more work you do, the better you’ll get at what you’re doing. At the end of the day it’s really that simple. Plus, watching the average quality of your content improve is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.
So just shut up, put your head down, and get that work in. Trust me, you’ll be glad that you did.
Zach Lavine and Andrew Wiggins at TCSAX 5
If you can combine hard work and perseverance, then you’ll be truly unstoppable. The two do go hand-in-hand to some extent, but it’s easy to work harder when your work is recognized or instantly reaches a wide audience … and that’s not something that’s going to happen right off the bat. You might make something that you feel is really dope and it doesn’t connect with people the way you wanted it to. I’ve been there. It sucks. I know.
No big deal. You can be upset about it (spending time analyzing your thoughts is healthy as long as you don’t overdo it), but after that the best thing that you can do is just keep on pushing. Persistence and perseverance WILL pay off. Plus, it’s that much sweeter when you succeed if you’ve failed a few times before. You learn more from failing than you do from succeeding (that’s a fact), and whatever you’re shooting for might take years … but if you keep pushing, you’ll get there eventually. As an added bonus, basking in the salt of those who doubted you is a glorious feeling.
A good friend once told me “you’ve gotta have the bad days sometimes to be able to appreciate the good ones,” and that’s resonated with me ever since. Fight through through the bad days and the doubt from others and keep working hard. The good days are much closer than you may think.
WhyKhaliq performing at TCSAX 7
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about developing content, it’s that inspiration for articles strikes in the strangest ways, at the strangest places, and during the strangest times. Always be open to ideas, and always listen to what people have to say. You’re never too good to learn something from someone, no matter who they may be and who you think you are.
If you keep an open mind, you might be inspired by something totally random that you’d never think would give you an idea, much less an idea that you can translate into fantastic content. Some of my best KicksOneTwo articles have come from random conversations completely unrelated to sneakers with people who don’t know the first thing about them, and some have come while I’m spacing out in the shower, letting my mind wander wherever it may.
So heed this advice and keep an open mind, an open ear, and an open notebook (you can use the notes on your phone if you’re not the pen-and-paper type). You never know what you might stumble upon, and you want to always be ready to capture that inspiration when it strikes.
What strategies do you use to fuel your creative process? How do you cope when you’re feeling creatively stymied? Sound off in the comments or hit me up and let me know on Twitter! The more open dialogue we can have on a subject like this, the better. Let’s help each other out. We’ll all win in 2018.