Sometimes you need to get creative and do things differently. But many people don’t know how to do that, believing it’s “just a knack” that people have or that its not part of their genes. Having had the good fortune to kick-off my working career in a creative branding agency, I am happy to know that this is simply not true. Being creative is process and a skill you can learn. And a couple of tips can take you a long way...
My eleven year old daughter is doing a school project on clothing-design and tomorrow she is going to have to “create” something at school. She just told me she was worried, because most of the time her inspiration comes from browsing around the internet, and the internet will not be available to her in class.
This reminded me of one of my early moments faced with the same problem: How do you “get creative” when you aren’t feeling creative? In my story, it was 2001 and I was working for a small international branding agency in the UK. I had the internet (albeit with a 56k modem connection!) but I was still stuck. My boss told me to “get out of here” and sent me off to a museum. It didn’t take long before some inspiration for my (unrelated) project came. So there’s out first tip… if you want to get inspired, change your scenery.
But we can do better than that with 2 of the Rs I discovered in WhatIf’s book “Sticky Wisdom” at the time :
Find a RELATED world
This means you “go” to a place which has some kind of link or analogy with the topic you are working on. In 2006, I was facilitating a brainstorming session to help a recruitment team come up with better ways to attract young talent in a tight employment market. We created an analogy of trying to catch ants you can’t find in a kitchen. Before we knew it, we were working on all kinds of related ideas (putting down sugary traps, redirecting the ants to another place, having big boots, recruiting predators to suck them up…) before translating THOSE ideas out of the analogy and back to our original problem. I won’t bore you with the results now, but I can promise you: They had more ideas than they had when they sat around the table just hoping someone would come up with something!
For my daughter, she could make things a little more simple. Instead of “designing clothes” she could start thinking about designing houses, or guns, or fantasy football teams. Or she could forget “designing” and think about “stocking clothes”, “selling clothes” or any other related world. It really doesn’t matter. She WILL see things differently.
Of course, she could just go out for a walk around the (inside of) the school and look at the related world of colours and forms and see what inspiration that brings.
Work from something RANDOM
The second R is the one that has actually led me writing this blog today. Not because its SO amazing, nor because I’ve proven as a coach how it helps people to find new ways to achieve their goals. I am sharing it now because my daughter is STILL inspired and busy at work as I write, 30 minutes after I shared the idea and kick-started her on her way. And since I have the computer, she has no internet 🙂
Random truly means random. You can pick a random object, take a word from a book or ask someone to talk to you about anything they like. That is the way in. Now see where it takes you. It’s a simple as that. Sometimes things just flow out.
I explained this idea to the little one and popped off to the fridge to get a tomato and a knife. She cut it, she looked at it.. and as you can see in the video above, the rest is history 🙂
Before I go, here are a few final tips to help you create creativity when you need to :
- Find a friend. Because friends are awesome. And 2 + 2 = 5.
- Don’t try and get anything right. Creativity is about flow. Selection, correction and perfection can come later.
- Use all your senses
- Have resources available when you need them (even if its not the internet)
- Take a break as soon as you feel like it. Don’t try and force the energy.
- Drink some water. Trust me on that one.
If you read this and it inspires you, please try something or add a comment below. And don’t forget to share your ideas with other people. It makes the world go round!
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Then go be creative!