Feeling creatively stifled? As you get stuck into your work this week, no matter what you are actually doing (working for someone else, setting the world on fire in your own gig, climbing a mountain – well ok, maybe not that one), have a think about how creative you are feeling. Are you in a creative rut? When was the last time you really made something new? So many of us find ourselves in that rut a good chunk of the time – even those who’s job it is to create.
Here are eight things to think about to get your creative juices flowing. Try them out and see if they help you get your creative vibes going.
1. It’s ok to fail – as we get older I think we get scared to create stuff. Any stuff. If we work in a company, then the culture is likely based on fear and scarcity – meaning don’t stuff up or you might be out of a job. Even if that is only a distant reality it can still stop us from stepping outside the lines. And if you work for yourself, the risks can be high with taking on new creative ventures, especially the more established you become. But the whole essence of creativity is that you don’t know what the outcome will look like. And to create things that are truly remarkable, you gotta get outside that dreary box. It’s ok. Start small, low risk and just create something. You’ll build the muscle as you go along.
2. Yes, you are creative – hey come back, don’t skip over this one, I’m talking to you. You, yes you, are creative. You may not have picked up a paint brush since kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t create everyday. Sure it may look different as we get older, less like artistry and more like something else. But remember that anytime you are doing something different or making something new, you are creating. Reframe your everyday like that, and watch your creativity blossom. As my brain crush Seth Godin says, make your art.
3. Stop expecting it to make sense – you know you use a different side of your brain when you are creating stuff – so stop expecting your creative process to make rational, logical, left brain sense. It won’t. And that’s the whole point. Embrace the lack of clarity. Revel in the chaos. Give yourself permission to just have fun with it and see where an idea can take you. Brainstorm that new strategy without having to have the end worked out. You get enough chances to be pragmatic in your day. Embrace the ambiguity.
4. Build in some play time – we have this concept drummed into us from an early age that we have to work hard for anything worthwhile to come of it. And so we do. We work really hard. But for our brains to light up and create, we need to let our positive emotions run wild, and we need to play. Look at your week coming up. Where can you build in moments of fun and play? What would that even look like? Play some twister at lunchtime in the office (not in a pencil skirt, that would just be awkward), do some mind mapping with finger paints or crayons, go to the park as a team and get on the swings (yes, I’m not even kidding). Anything that is playful will tap you into your creative nature. And you might just have some fun.
5. Don’t create and edit at the same time – I have many writing coaching clients, and one of the things most writers I know struggle with is writing and editing at the same time. I pretty much tell them just to stop it (don’t worry, I elaborate a little). It’s the same with my groovy entrepreneur clients when we are doing new business strategy stuff. When you’re creating you are exploring all the possibilities out there. When you’re editing, you are back in that rational, pragmatic mode. You’re picking things apart and being really critical of all those brilliant ideas or words. You can’t do both at the same time – it’s the worst kind of multitasking. Give yourself the space to create without your inner critic taking over. Lot’s of time to pull it apart later.
6. Go for the crazy – one of the most brilliant things about letting yourself freely create, and doing it with your teams, is that you can really go crazy on the wild ideas. Let them be big, bold, ridiculous. In Edward DeBono’s famous 6 Thinking Hats, the green hat is for creativity. We know that when you are in this space, initial ideas can seem completely crazy. Hey, I worked for a big formal professional services firm which was IPO’ing it’s 2Billion dollar consulting practice and we were going to call the new company Monday. I’ve been all over crazy (the branding was amazing though, so sad it never happened). Get in this space with your green hat on and get as crazy as you want. It’s some of the best mind fun you can have.
7. Ignore the naysayers – oh they are everywhere. They hate your idea. They are so boring. And they don’t have time for this fluffy ‘creativity’ stuff (said in that whiny voice like a 5th grader). Stuff them. Just ignore them. They will kill your creative buzz in a New York second (I know, it used to be NY minute, but these are fast times you know). Hide yourself away with the cool kids in the office, and have the creative fun you are bursting for. Resist the urges to fit in, makes sense, conform, comply and all that other boring stuff that you do for the rest of the day. None of that is part of the creative mandate. Go rock the boat. In fact, flip the bloody thing over. Now that sounds like fun.
8. Get a filter – we have access to so much information, every single day. It literally pours through our screens and into our brains, and overwhelm is an absolute creativity killer. When you are going in for some creative time, switch it all off. The email, the phone, all the social feeds. Just let yourself be in your creative cave. I also see so often that people procrastinate from actually creating something by collecting information and researching. Yep you often have to do that. But at some point you have to stop collecting and start creating. Sooner rather than later too I might add. Go on, get on with it – you’ll enjoy it when you do. Trust me.
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