Nathaniel Drew has built a notable following with his insightful videos that have helped millions of people.
Nathaniel’s work taps into the universal human experience of figuring out life while delivering the integral information we all need to continue to find our artistic voice.
Raw talent is great to have, but creative vision and intention can uplift anyone to center stage. Nathaniel teaches us how to get there by narrowing our focus with quick and easy questions. So we can ask ourselves: do I find my content helpful, do I find it interesting, do I find it valuable?
As creatives, there will always be challenges and the better we get at solving our emotions related to those obstacles the less stuck we become.
If you are a purpose-led creative, then the journey to realizing your potential to create something meaningful is a lot more valuable than any other metric.
We chatted with Nathaniel about his creative journey, mental clarity, and how he overcomes creative challenges.
Where in the world are you right now?
I’m currently based in Paris, France.
Travel seems to be a part of how you work. How does seeing new places or experiencing new cultures inspire you?
Firstly, nothing makes me feel alive quite like the immense novelty of being in a foreign place enveloped in foreign sensations. Secondly, I need urgency in my life. When I travel somewhere, I have a finite amount of time to take in what I can, whether it’s 6 months or just a weekend. Urgency makes me pay closer attention, prioritize a little more carefully and get out of my head.
What’s the number one destination on your bucket list?
I’m dying to spend some time in Tokyo and do some street photography over there! Istanbul is a close second.
Much of your focus has been on mental clarity, but I’m hoping you can define it for us. What does mental clarity mean for you?
Increasingly, “mental clarity” has less to do with a final destination for me and more to do with a way of approaching life and my interactions with other people. At first it began as a mission statement for my own self-improvement as an individual and it is taking on an increasingly abstract, spiritual definition that continues to evolve.
How do you remove blockers in your path towards mental clarity?
The realization that anything in life can be a distraction makes this a challenging question to answer! Clearly I’m still figuring this out for myself. Beyond removing unnecessary clutter in my life on a regular basis, both physically and digitally, there are certain habits I maintain that help me stay grounded. Meditation, journaling, running. It’s really nothing fancy. Writing brings me clarity on my ideas. Travel brings me clarity on my priorities in life. Beyond that I think many Buddhist ideas are shockingly relevant and helpful in navigating life in the 21st century.
Do you have any tips for those who might feel like they are in a creative rut?
Creativity works in strange ways. I do sort of look at it like a muscle, something that you’ve gotta work at regularly. Sometimes you’ll have breakthroughs and sometimes you’re struggling in the mud. Just focus on showing up and doing the work.
Creativity looks different for all of us. Experiment liberally until you find the things that work for you and help you feel creative. There are no shortcuts!
What art or creative work have you found inspiration in recently?
I’m an enormous fan of the composers Yann Tiersen and Alexandre Desplat.
From @jordynbrash: What was your main idea behind making a YouTube channel?
Around a decade ago, when the internet began to play a noticeably more prominent role in my life, I started to realize the potential it had for me to live a lifestyle that wasn’t very realistic even just a few decades ago.
My ideas around creativity and self-expression have only grown over the last decade and I now feel like it’s a crime to not use this resource to break down geographic barriers that traditionally imposed a glass ceiling on what is possible.
From @marienoellewurm: How do you not get overwhelmed by all the comments and messages?
I actually was overwhelmed by comments and messages for a while! I tried to respond to every last one for the longest time as I felt it was my obligation, giving that people were giving me their time and attention.
I think at this point a few factors have allowed me to return to a place of no longer feeling overwhelmed by it all. First of all, I think most people understand my situation and do not expect me to see or respond to every message.
Additionally, and this may seem harsh but I truly believe it: not every question or message online necessitates a direct response. Sometimes I’ll make a video so that I can respond to 50,000 people at once instead of one by one. However, I also receive plenty of questions that I have no interest ever answering, and I don’t owe those answers to anyone.
I think this comes down to systems. Setting aside time to respond is great, it helps prevent the task from spilling over into all of your free time.
From @roedermax: What are the struggles you faced when starting? And now?
It’s extremely frustrating and discouraging when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. I had a lot of trouble with this. I took it as a challenge to get so good that people could no longer ignore what I was doing.
Interestingly enough, I’m now looking for ways to keep my work original and fight against complacency or comfort within an established format. All kinds of expectations come with an established brand, and it can feel restrictive. I think one major advantage that anyone starting out has is the immense freedom that comes when no one knows you – there are no expectations, no one to “cater to.”
From @homesby_mayra: How do you start?
Here’s a quote from Epictetus that doesn’t directly answer your question but captures the sentiment that does:
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”
I think the decision of beginning a new project or endeavor boils down to whether or not you’re okay with not acting on your curiosities. Something within you is telling you that you have something to create.
I think we often don’t act on our curiosities because of fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what we’ll discover. This a fear you must become good friends with because it isn’t ever going to go away completely (in my experience). I’ve learned that that’s okay. It actually means you’re on the right track. You have nothing to lose and everything to learn.
Find Your Artistic Voice
Nathaniel Drew lays out the steps to discover, hone, and share your voice online.