29 Ways to Stay Creative

Here’s a great video with 29 easy suggestions presented with compelling typography by TO-FU… Why not try some of them out today?

29 ways to stay creative

Absolutes, Definitions and Limitations

It’s so easy to speak in absolutes – people are optimists or downers, they are hard workers or smart or lazy or outgoing.

It’s natural for us to want to define one another, and ourselves, but it’s also dangerous. The more I delve into the psychology of creativity and innovation the more I encounter the inherent complexity of humans. Our stories are powerful and varied with many sides and voices. Well-formed stories can represent our values, our social norms and our cultural viewpoints all in the space of a few lines of text.

Think for a moment – what adjectives do you use to describe yourself? Are there many? Are they contradictory? Where are they sourced from?

There was an interesting moment one day last week when I found myself  admonishing myself for not spending enough time with someone important to me. Automatically I was calling myself a bad friend. The thing is though, if I were to be speaking to anyone else I would have the logical mind to remind him or her that starting a business, active learning and maintaining personal and professional relationships takes a lot of time. I would remind that friend that one missed opportunity does not define a person.

In the same way that I am not defined by that experience, people are not one creative or non-creative based on their past actions.

There are so many chances to look at the world differently, to suggest a new or innovative path or process – whether in work, at school or elsewhere in life – that it is unlikely that any of us is non-creative. In fact, it’s more likely that we are trapped in narratives that define creative people only as artists, writers, dancers and those working in “creative” fields like advertising.

Imagine what you could be doing if, from youth, you’d been told that science, accounting, law or banking were also creative fields. What new products, procedures or  revenue streams might you be developing if your mind was more open to the potential for creativity in all professions?

The narratives and stories that we share and those we impose and ourselves and others can be limiting and even dangerous as the video below reveals. In the video below, Chimamanda Adichie uses her experience as an author, a Nigerian and an African student in America to take a look at the power of stories and of definition.

Some more questions for today – What are you imposing on yourself? How could a new perspective free up your ideas your relationships and your mind?

L

The Facts About Creativity

There’s a lot that’s ambiguous about creative work but there are two definites.

1) Creativity takes courage

2) Mistakes are mandatory

In my mind creativity is about coming up with a new idea or approach and expressing it. It is essential to let the work out to the world, to your friends or to your colleagues and that can be really scary.

For most of us our creative lives started when we were little kids with make believe, storytelling and pretend games. The wonderful thing when you watch kids creating is that they really get involved. They see one friend coming up with ideas, performing or acting silly and they get right into it themselves. There is no time made for thoughts other than – “That looks fun!” or “I have an idea too!”.

Really, they have yet to grow the part of their social brain that says “Keen isn’t cool” or “What if I make a mistake? That would be embarrassing.”

This is why creativity is ballsy. It’s why it’s work. We have to fight the experiences of our past and discouraging voices that make us want to stay quiet.

The great thing about doing workshops (I was at an amazing Tom Schlesinger one this weekend) is that you realize that you are not at all alone in this. We all want to express ourselves in some way and we’re all kinda freaked out by actually doing it.

Much of the reason I get worked up is that I’m used to striving for absolute perfection. The thing is, that’s impossible in life and even more impossible in creativity. One thing I keep noticing though is that the more that I am brave, the more mistakes I’m ok with making, the more those around me get into it. The more they try, the more they express themselves and the more they realize that mistakes can be silly and fun but they can also be valuable in both work and life.

The most important part of creativity is taking risks and making mistakes.  Original work means there will be nothing to compare it against in order to define the standards of perfection. We’ve been trained against it, but really, do you think symphonies are written in one try? Great novels in one draft? Amazing businesses with the first plan or executed task? We are supposed to learn as we go.

What makes it easier is that original work comes from inside of each of us and is a result of our own mix of experiences, knowledge, passions and, sometimes, pain. This means we’re not only hardwired to create because we’re human but we have all of the material we need to make completely unique work!

I know we’re not all artists or writers or actors or ad men but we are all human and there are creative ways to do math, walk dogs, write news, deliver papers and approach our businesses.

Today join me in my challenge and find a way to stray from your comfort zone and be courageous with your ideas.

Trial and error is recognized everywhere else – why not give it a chance in your life too?

Keeping Creative: Fishbowl Inspiration

Creativity is like a muscle, we need to work it out to keep it flexible.

So it only makes sense that there are lots of exercises that can be used to keep you tapped in to your imagination, working out your mind and pushing to create.

One that I use daily and that is incorporated in to Creativity Camp is the idea fishbowl. Find a bowl or basket that you can keep just for this purpose. As you flip through magazines, read books or wander the streets collect images and phrases that inspire you.

They could be happy and light or sad and dark – the trick is to aim for variety as you select them. Obviously if you think of a great line or string of words that you want to work with you should include that too.

From there you need to physically cut them up into small pieces that can be folded away and placed in your bowl. (For an example see the photo below)

Here comes the important part. You need to set aside time everyday pluck an idea out of your bowl and write. Set a timer for 15 minutes and let the phrase or image guide your writing.

Remember don’t stop writing – even if it means blabbing on about how frustrating it is to be unable to write. When I hit a block I often look up and grab a colour or shape from the room then write it repeatedly until it leads me to a new thought or word. (We’ll talk about the power of association another time!)

The key here is that your writing probably won’t be good. It’s not supposed to be. In fact, if it is really good maybe you need to think about loosening up even more!

You are writing from a place in your mind that you probably don’t use very often. It is not about censoring and grammar and word choice but rather about teaching your mind that it’s ok to run free and play. It’s about being as loose as possible and allowing your mind to flow and produce without boundaries or criticism.

No one is going to read this writing unless you want to show it off – so get collecting…

Idea Fishbowl