If you are creative, you already know. People won’t stop telling you that you are creative. If that’s not your case, probably you are not incredibly creative yet, but the steps below might help you tap into your creativity. So read on!
If you are creative you will think there is nothing extraordinary about you because the tasks they find original and creative usually come naturally to you. And probably, after following your creative instincts for quite some time and getting rewarded for it, you start thinking “I am creative, now what?”
For most of us, the next natural step is finding a creative endeavor to earn a living. Usually, that’s when we start figuring out we are not always creative, or being creative on demand is one of the toughest jobs ever. Doesn’t matter. We are there now.
Through necessity, we turn our eyes inward. We dissect our creativity and understand what makes us tick, so we can be creative on command. I have dissected mine long ago and wanted to share what I found in the hopes that I can ease the path for a couple of kindred souls. Without further ado, here are my seven steps that ensure I stay creative even under stress:
1. Read as widely as you can.
Collecting a lot of different information, learning without prejudice, seeking diversity, and being open to experiences generate the fuel our brain needs to burn to create new ideas. If you don’t fill your tank, you will dry out eventually.
2. Have deep knowledge about one meta-subject.
When you have a hammer, everything starts to seem like a nail. For a creative, this means, you need a lens to look at the new knowledge you are collecting. If you don’t have a lens to look through or a peg to hang everything you are learning, then you won’t know how to create something out of the work you are gathering. The knowledge you have will seem disconnected and useless. You will start thinking why bother. You will start to feel like a failure. Been there, done that. I am telling you, so you don’t have to suffer yourself. Having domain expertise is paramount for your creative health.
For most of my youth, that domain expertise was literature, and I was looking at the world through the eyes of a storyteller. As I grew up and studied business that lens changed into marketing. This is apt since marketing is storytelling in the business world.
Even though I studied art and design after, my lens didn’t change. I believe that’s because marketing gives me a sure way to understand people and how the world works, and art isn’t a more suitable skill for me to understand the world. I might talk about this later since that’s one of the main reasons I have stopped considering myself as an artist and returned to the written word.
3. Merge what you learn with your domain knowledge.
If you already have a lens to look at the world, this step comes naturally. You can’t help but see the commonalities of the things you know and you learn. The more you learn, the network in your head about your domain grows and it gets easier to add new connections. At some point, everything you know seems related to your domain.
The more connections you have, the more creative your peers think you are. It will help with your communication and your thinking because when you are talking or thinking about something related to your topic, you will be pulling information from other fields and create original solutions.
4. Talk about your findings with experts in your domain.
This is where it starts getting excited. As you start talking to people about your findings, either your peers will support your new idea or will start showing you the holes in your reasoning. I believe this is the step, natural creatives start differing from the general population.
Creatives tend to seek opposition so that they fill the holes in their thinking with new thoughts and information. They tend to thrive in opposition and will use the negotiation to get a better understanding of their topic. The general public seeks approval and usually shies away from an idea if they have some opposition. Conformism is a serial-killer when it comes to ideas.
5. Talk about your findings with the general public.
After talking with your peers and figuring out the holes, the next step is talking about your findings with different groups of people. I am coming from an intellectual upbringing that believes if you can’t explain your domain ideas to the general public you don’t know it well enough yet.
Explaining your domain findings to new people makes you think about your findings in a different way, and usually makes you create new and original connections with the everyday world. Another benefit you will accrue is that people will bring their domain knowledge to the conversation and hand you new ideas you wouldn’t be aware of.
6. Merge all your findings into a coherent idea.
Now that you have done all the hard work of generating an idea and making sure it doesn’t have a lot of holes, it is time for you to figure out how everything fits together. The goal is to reach a coherent original idea that just needs a little polish before going to the next step.
7. Do something with your newly minted idea!
Having an idea means nothing if you are not going to do something with your idea. You can incorporate that idea into your life in many ways; some ideas change how you see the world, some change how you approach a topic, some increase your understanding, but the most joyful ones are those that make you create something original.
After this, you enjoy giving birth to something original and start looking for the next exciting idea…
This is not a linear progress. I usually learn about new things while I am testing ideas with people, and I always try to learn new things about my domain knowledge. The only step I don’t multitask is the sixth one, where I merge all the insights I gathered into a coherent whole.
I hope this post helped you in your creative journey, and if you have some tricks that improve your creativity, please share them in the comments below!