Outside the box thinking and problem solving are not skills automatically granted during one’s tenure as a creative professional. Similar to an athlete hitting the gym every day or a runner getting those miles in, creativity is a trait built piece by piece through hard work, diligence, and experience. I have had the opportunity to guide and nurture creative talent both in myself and through mentoring of students new to the discipline. Through this I have identified a strategy to keep my creative talons sharp and ready for whatever project comes my way.
Creativity is a trait built piece by piece through hard work, diligence, and experience.
For me, creativity comes easier than it does for many. I have spent my life practicing, experimenting, dissecting, and experiencing all that I can find in an effort to keep the creative flame lit brightly. I have explored many different techniques and mediums, sometimes with success, sometimes not. Either way, the experience gained from each venture increases my creative ability more than if I had not tried at all. The core process for me is a single guiding tenet: “Create Something Every Day.” Do it not because you have to, but because it is fun, and fun is good! No matter how insignificant or minuscule, you must exercise your creative talents every day.
As far back as I can remember, I have begun each day by spending about 15-20 minutes sketching, painting, taking some photos, or reading an inspiring article on the internet. All in the name of practice. It doesn’t matter if it is great, good, bad, or ugly. Without regular practice, similarly to the athlete your skills will begin to fade. Over time this will lead to self-doubt in your ability to think creatively and solve problems. Through routine creative practice I find that ideas jump into my head more readily, and I’m able to brainstorm and work much more effectively.
Another key concept for me in keeping creatively sharp is the practice of doing. Do. As in more than just think or read about something. Actually perform the process. Make the mistakes. Correct the mistakes. Don’t repeat the mistakes. Understand the process needed to solve the problem. You could read books and tutorials until the cows come home on how to properly chop wood, but until you actually do it, you’ll never become proficient. Jump in with both feet and don’t be afraid to fail. For some the fear of failure is a barrier they cannot overcome. You must conquer this self-doubt in order to grow creatively.
Practice, practice, practice and over time you’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish. Over time your practice will become experience, and then your experience will become confidence. With confidence nothing can stop you. Create something every day. Just for the fun of it.