In a lot of ways, creative people squash their own openness for creativity just by thinking poorly about the availability of opportunities present to them. Maybe your circle of friends doesn’t really push you creatively. On the other hand maybe they do, but you’ve gotten immune to it. In that case, you don’t need to get different friends, just new ones! Here are some ways you can find creative inspiration and exercise wherever you are and in whatever you are doing.
1. Work Sucks, Go Play
Fun is fun, right? When work isn’t fun, make it fun. At my job, I work with one other person, my boss, on our creative campaigns. We have to try to brainstorm everything from clever visuals and emotional angles to slogans, logos and marketing strategies. Sometimes what we have to work with is very little, or so uninspiring that it’s painful. Part of my process involves turning those awful, creatively barren situations into play. I start out by coming up with the most ridiculous – and hilarious – ideas I can think of. These are ideas that will never see the light of day. They are terrible, completely unusable in our context, but they make us laugh and ease some of the anxiety we feel going into a project that gives us little to go on. My boss is cool and allows (tolerates? actually enjoys!?) this. But the point is that play starts the process of thinking when it is not easy to get going, and it sets a more fun tone for a difficult project. After a few ridiculous and funny shots across the bow of the project, we can usually start to get serious and dial in a plan of attack.
2. The Lines must be Open!
Communication is completely necessary when you are trying to jump start your creativity. It doesn’t matter so much how you do it. Whatever works for you is good enough for me, but it has to happen. Especially in collaborations, the team has to be able to effectively and safely convey ideas and communicate goals and struggles. Even if you are a lone artist, you need to have a few people who will talk to you about your work, what you are producing, why you are producing that work. What is troubling you? What is inspiring you? Outside help is invaluable in sorting your thoughts, getting new thoughts from an external perspective and turning them into actionable inspiration. The best ideas in the world don’t come from just one person.
3. You Are Spartacus
How often have you side-stepped a compliment on your work, or down-played your involvement on a project? Whether it was out of humility or fear of judgment or something else, stop it! Stand up for your work and your ideas. If they’re worth putting your creative efforts into, they’re worth fighting for, and certainly worth taking credit for! Sometimes others – bosses, friends, parents, bad collaborators – can make you feel terrible about yourself or your ideas, and it’s scary to take a stand and defend them. Don’t back down. Your courage to dare and possibly fail will be inspiring to others, and you will learn more from failures you put your whole self into and be able to take greater pride in successes that you championed from start to finish.
I just made up that word. Why? Because it hadn’t been made up before! Completely changing up your creative process, community, environment and other factors from time to time is a significant key to sparking ideas and getting them to catch fire. Work with people way better than you at your job. Work with beginners. If you normally work at a coffee shop, go work in the library. Have a conversation with someone who does work you know absolutely nothing about. On a Saturday, complete short projects. Do two you feel confident you can manage, and one that you know you will have to read the instruction manual. You know that popular definition of insanity, right? “Doing the same things and expecting a different result.” Your creativity needs difference and variety of experience in order to be able to make new connections and generate original ideas. Put yourself in situations where diversity of experience is possible, and encourage it wherever you are.
How do you keep your creativity sparking? Leave a comment below!