Creative Creativity – 5 Ways to Maximise your Freethinking
We all suffer from creative block at some point, so how do you get back in the flow?
Here, I explain some of my methods for staying in the zone.
First, let me explain what I mean by being “creative” – I’m not talking about being the next Picasso, writing a bestselling novel, or designing the new Coca-Cola logo. Creativity is quite simply the process of creating. Not copying, not recreating, not rehashing. It’s about finding a better solution to an old problem, or an innovative approach to a new problem. Essentially, it’s all about making something exist that has never existed before.
So what’s Creative Creativity? Well that’s what I call my method of making these new things exist.
You see, my brain works differently. In fact, it’s quite a bit different to most people, but maybe that’s what makes me, well… me! The truth is everyone’s brain is different, and those who know that tend to be the ones making a living from their products being as unique as that individual customer.
But hang on, doesn’t my business specialize in exactly that? Yes, my services are based on the exact needs of each of my clients. Be it a new logo, the copy for a new brochure, or planning out a social media strategy, the best solution is almost never the “one size fits all” approach.
So when it comes to getting creative, the same rule applies. Quite simply, there isn’t one approach to being creative. What there is, however, is a methodology for maximizing your own personal creative approach. Let me share a few of these steps with you…
1) Find out how you focus
If you want to get the most out of your efforts, you need to focus them. Don’t waste time staring at something and think that you are focused, because you probably aren’t. Distractions are the number one cause of… Ooh, look, a squirrel!
You need to work out what the best environment is for you to be focused. Some like to have music playing, others prefer quiet. Some talk things through while others sit in silence. You just need to test what works best for you.
Turning off the TV, closing the window, finding a quiet space, opening the window, switching off your phone, closing the window again. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure you remove as many distractions as necessary.
And that doesn’t mean get rid of everything altogether, or you’ll be spending precious time chasing down every buzz and bleep in a 2-mile radius until you’re left in the most sterile environment imaginable. Which leads me nicely onto the next point…
2) If you’re starting from nothing, start with something
How often do you find yourself looking at a blank white page for minutes on end? Now how much of that time is really spent thinking about the task in hand, and not thinking about the weather? Or how thirsty you are? Or what happened on Game of Thrones last night?
The trick here is to work out what is stopping you from focusing. It is probably not that your mind is full of thoughts about everything else; instead your blank sheet of paper is just not really that interesting when compared to literally anything else. So make it interesting!
Scribble something down, throw out keywords, doodle some shapes. It doesn’t matter what you do – anything is better than nothing. Break that barrier and you’ve got a starting point.
Where you go next is entirely up to you.
3) Don’t force it
If you’re not in the right headspace, mood or mindset to get ideas flowing, then don’t waste your time. You’ve got to be in the right place to be successfully creative, or else you’ll quickly get frustrated – and that negative energy is bad news!
Instead, spend your time doing other tasks like getting ahead on paperwork, or chasing a few customers. Heck, why not get some sleep if you need it. You’re better off being productive if you can’t be creative.
Just don’t try and make it work if it’s not really happening.
You’ve found yourself in the right mood, you’re comfy in your office, and you’ve just had a brainwave to start a new revenue stream for your business – Great!
Now, you’ve written down your buzzwords, you’re planning well, and the sums seem to add up… But for some reason you feel like you’re outcome looks just like everything else you’ve been doing. That doesn’t necessarily mean it would fail, just that you set out to create something new and haven’t really achieved that.
The most likely reason is that you’re looking at it the same way you looked at all your last ideas, and did the same planning and strategies because they worked before. That’s definitely logical, and not immediately a bad thing.
But if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had.
Creativity is about breaking the established constructs and patterns to allow you to look at things in a different way.
5) Getting stuck? Change the context
Take the subject of your creativity, change the context, and you change the thing itself.
What is an apple? In a fairy tale book, it’s poisoned. In your lunchbox it’s one of your 5 a Day, keeping the doctor away. In your pocket it’s your phone, and on your desk it’s your laptop. All the same thing, yet all very different.
Everything is about context. One of the hottest interior design trends over the past few years has been repurposing and upcycling. Whether it’s a palletwood dining table or bike frames for barstools, taking something humdrum and using it unexpectedly can be incredibly eye-catching, and it makes you wonder why it wasn’t done before.
The same can apply to business strategies, design concepts, or products. I mean, what if you’ve already got the perfect new idea right in front of you, just being used an old idea poorly executed… Might be time to dig out some old notebooks and see what you can find!
All in all, to have new ideas on things, you need to be in a new place. Find yourself a new frame of mind, change the way you approach new projects, and gain a new perspective.