My good friends at Cube, a Sydney-based independent public relations agency working in the specialities of health and nutrition, asked me to comment on being creative for their blog Cubism. Entitled “Being Creative: Are You or Aren’t You?,” the post offers some of my favourite ways to spark your creative streak. Click on the full article to read, or I’ve included my six basic points below.
1. Create light bulbs every day. Creativity isn’t a skill, it’s a behaviour. Hemingway demanded that writers write every day. Musicians of all sorts have spoken on how they force themselves to write music, every day. It’s not the outcome that’s important: it’s the practice and discipline. Start small. Keep a diary. Write a visual journal. Make an environment for yourself that encourages your creativity. Find a second – or third, or fourth – answer to any problem you face. Think of it as mental calisthenics.
2. Get a point. The key to creativity is clarity and authenticity. What is your goal (clarity), and why’s it important to you (authenticity)? Write down a problem statement about your creative challenge in the form a question. It begins with: “How can I …?” Once you have your first question, re-write 7-8 times until you find a question that’s provocative and stimulates your imagination.
3. Clear the trash out of your head. As much as 90% of your day is spent in the Closed Mind. Responding to the day’s tasks. Reacting to other’s requests. Organising, sorting, prioritising and deciding. They’re all retroactive thinking, and worse, it fills your mind up with debris more relevant to the past than the future. Open Mind is forward thinking, pro-active and constructive. Call it daydreaming if you like, but considered, thoughtful and focused thinking on future problems is how creativity begins.
4. Stop talking to yourself. Self-talk – a powerful but not very objective voice in the back of your head – speaks to you all day long. On one hand, it gives you balance and context, but more often than not, it’s critical and deflective. At its worst, it tells you your ideas aren’t good enough, it assumes the pre-judgement of others, and destroys any idea before it has a chance for improvement. Remember: your negative voice is just one voice, not the voice.
5. Visit alien cultures. If you have a cat or dog, you know they’ll stop drinking from their water dish if the water gets too stagnant. Strange as it may sound, your brain easily turns into a stagnant pool of water. To be creative, it needs constant refreshment. Absorb as much as you can from the life that swirls around you. Act like an alien. Soak up anything foreign to you – fashion, sport, art, architecture, music, movies – particularly things or events which you’d not immediately respond to. You’ll never know when something might spark an idea.
How do you ignite your creativity? What else would you suggest?