You create things every day without thinking.
Whether it be a thoughtful ‘happy birthday’ post on a friend’s Facebook wall, a nagging email to the colleague who keeps using your instant coffee or a doodle on the side of your notepad.
So, how come when you set down to write that bestseller, or to draw that masterpiece we’ve been imagining, it can be so hard to get going?
I’m sorry to say that there’s no easy fix.
No magic tablet that, once you swallow it, makes you more of a creative juggernaut. If only that film Limitless was real, ey?
Here are 3 creativity hacks that might just make things a little easier…
Here are a few things that can be done to get the creative juices flowing.
Your mind is a vehicle. If you don’t put the right fuel in, you’re not gonna get the right results out.
And, if you put nothing into it at all…well, you’re not going to get anywhere.
If you want to create, you need to read.
A wide breadth of things. In my current ‘to-read’ list I’ve got everything from a book on spin doctors to an account of Voodoo activity in Haiti. Neither of those are topics I’m looking to pursue – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements there that won’t inspire me.
Let’s say you’re writing a fantasy book.
You’ve read all the classics and some contemporary pieces, and you’re still out of ideas. Why don’t you read about politics?
I mean after all, most fantasy worlds have some sort of government…in fact they’re often run by extreme dictatorships – maybe you could draw inspiration?
“Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.” – (Ogilvy, David – Ogilvy on Advertising.)
I’ve already covered this tip on another post – but it’s such an important one that I think it belongs in any list.
Often we force ourselves to be creative, and it doesn’t really work.
In my final year at University, I’d schedule days and days to be in the library to work on my final project. But yet, words didn’t come at times – everything around me was distracting. The more I tried to stop myself from being distracted, the more distracted I was.
I wish I’d heard of the 33.3 method then. Basically a mega-productive author and copywriter, Eugene Schwartz, worked out that the maximum time he could be creative for was 33 minutes and 3 seconds. During that time he’d ban himself from leaving the chair, and once the timer went off he go be distracted for ten minutes and then return for another 33.3 spell.
It really works. I know a lot of writers who have employed this, and it’s a good ‘un. I reckon it could work for making music or designing something too.
SIX THINKING HATS
This technique works best if you’re working on a group project, but I reckon you can also do it when working solo – it just requires a bit of role-play. No the Dungeons ‘n’ Dragons type, mind you.
It was originally thought up by Dr. Edward De Bono. It works well once you’ve got the basic concept of what you want to do. If you put on each hat and analyse what it is you’re going to be creating you should have a better idea by the end of it.
More a preparation technique…but I don’t believe that preparation inhibits creativity.
So, there you have it…
Those are just a few things that I’ve found that help me. They’re also good for productivity in general.
If you’re passionate about being creative, you should also be passionate about being productive.
Particularly if you don’t get much time to be creative in your daily life.
“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.”
~ Franz Kafka