Trying to drive your creativity can be a lot like trying to drive a car. Full of ups and downs, twists, and turns but in the end the journey is always worth it. The process is not easy and it is only after finishing can we sit back and proudly bear witness to the expression of our creativity in its physical form. This is the true reward of creativity - inventing something that is uniquely your own be it a thought, product or idea.
Much like driving a car we all have different ways and styles that work for us and which we are comfortable with. Many of us can struggle at times with the creative journey and often veer from its path. Instead, an easier route is found that is free from the mental fatigue thinking can often create.
If you find yourself stuck or unable to release your creative juice fully then here are 7 gears that never fail in getting me to creative land.
1. Know your destination
When attempting creativity it’s vital to know the problem you are trying to solve. If you don’t you will find yourself spinning in circles doughnut-like with no clear end goal in mind. Creativity needs a guide or particular area to focus in on. When creating ads I just take them one a time keeping the product I’m trying to advertise on my mind as well as the type of ad I’m trying to create i.e. a graphic for a newspaper ad. This keeps it simple and allows me to focus on the desired outcome.
I become deeply present. I look at my surroundings making weird and unusual connections with what I see and the product I am advertising. If I am thinking of a graphic ad for a coffee company I will imagine everything around me as coffee and see where this out of the box thinking leads me. Visualization can be important when you are creatively stuck. It helps to imagine your task completed and how you will feel when it happens. This builds confidence and gives you the persistence to stick at the task. Do not fixate on the future too much however and detract from the present moment where the creativity happens.
2. Switch off distractions
Before exiting your driveway en route to creative land unplug and switch off all distractions. Turn the radio off and put the phone out of reach as they will only distract you and cause a creative crash. When you are thinking, fidgeting can be a major issue (I’m throwing a ball in the air as I write this). The phone offers too much potential for procrastination where you will google randomly stupid stuff just to get out of what you are doing. Be at one with what’s around and do not try to escape but instead delay gratification and reward yourself after the task is over. Consequently, you will enjoy it more as you will have earned it.
When driving there will be problems and roadblocks you must face. It is critical to keep your mind open and veer away from one fixated path. This facilitates true creativity. In the creative process, we can become stuck on one particular way of solving the problem. This causes us to miss truly novel connections and radical innovation as our minds are subconsciously closed to it.
Take a new route to work, park in a different parking space or learn a new hobby. Expose your mind to new scenarios and completely different environments to build more connections and memories for your creative mind to act on.
4. Grind it Out
The mind can be delicate, sometimes when we need it most it just refuses to perform. It’s important to accept this and not lose your temper and react aggressively to it. This barrier can and will be driven through if you just persist and carry on despite the hurdles. If you can’t find it, grind it. Be patient and confident you will get through it.
Again visualization can help and give you added motivation to persist. Your best ideas will come to you after you have gotten through the difficult period when you just want to quit. It’s just a part of the process. Some companies or products I thought were just too narrow to create a truly unique ad for. This was a limiting belief and once I actually put the pen to the page the ideas flowed.
5. Be positive
Unrelentingly so. Every idea is a good idea it just might not be right for the given brief or task. Accept all ideas you have for the task and jot them all down no matter how silly they might be. Sometimes it’s important just to write or you will just get trapped in perfectionism and never get started. This will build your creative confidence as you can physically see you have many ideas even if they aren’t quite right for this task. Often these poor ideas can be linked together to form a great idea e.g. the title for one rejected ad may do for another ad.
We can be our own worst critics at times constantly aiming for a perceived perfection which is always unattainable. It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy if you think you will not have any ideas or that you are not creative then this is exactly what will happen. It’s also important not to attach your identity to your ideas or risk developing a massive ego whereby you cannot view your work objectively. This will always lead to failure as not everyone will like your ideas or believe in them at first. Instead be proud of them while also looking at them from an outside perspective keeping in touch with reality.
6. Slow Down
We can all drive too fast, think too fast, anxious to reach the end destination. It’s very important not to rush the process. Sometimes you’ll be ahead. Sometimes you’ll be behind. It’s the journeys that matter and as long as you are improving every day you’ll get to where you want to go. Focus on the given moment and task at hand.
Do not put a time limit on your creativity. When I am sitting down trying to think of an idea I will never give myself an hour or 2 of creative thinking. Instead, I will just sit down and accept I could be here for the day thinking of an ad and be happy with that and accept it. Do not get anxious with yourself saying “why can’t I think of any ideas I’ve been here an hour now”, instead just accept the situation and believe the ideas will come.
7. Be Present
Switch on cruise control and just be present in the moment and enjoy the process don’t fight it. Sit back and wait for the ideas to come. We do our best thinking often when we are not even thinking. This is where our mind is blank completely free of anxious thinking about the future or past. Never treat creativity as a chore to be gotten through. Soak in the open road, marvel at your surroundings and be happy in the moment. Don’t react to any obstacles instead just handle them.
So there you have it, those are the gears that drive my creativity. They might work for you, they might not but whatever happens, stick with the process. Remember you are creative too.