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“Creativity is taking a collection of old ideas, muddling them together and remixing them in new ways. That’s why the really good ones always feel slightly nostalgic.”

-Kik Di Nino

Einstein

As of late, I have been watching excess amounts of AMC’Mad Men and have found myself contemplating the mysterious abyss that is the creative process. The ad world of the 50′s and 60′s thrived upon simple ideas executed with style and class. It was a time when a small number of corporations were able to encapsulate just about everyone’s attention. A time when an entire household gathered around a single TV set, phones were rotary, there were only 3 channels to choose from, and everyone knew about the shower scene in “Psycho”. A new Coca-Cola campaign featuring Paul Newman? Well, that would be the talk of the town. Perhaps that is because the good adverts back then weren’t just selling products, the creative forces behind them were selling a lifestyle.

Determining the source of creativity has always been somewhat of a crucial conundrum hasn’t it? Especially since we now live in an age where all that simplicity of the 60′s is long gone. It unraveled with the onslaught of the internet and the induction of TV’s with more channels than there were drunk account execs roaming the halls at Sterling Cooper. To quote the infamous Don Draper, when it comes to generating new creative thoughts, “just think about it deeply, then forget it…then an idea will jump up in your face”. I find myself occasionally melancholic, wondering what life was like in this simpler time and this recent Mad Men binge has me thinking about the delicate beauty and complexity of the creative process. In todays age, we are inundated with a steady stream of media and information right at our fingertips, which of course can be both a friend and a foe to those that consider themselves a ‘creative type’. My best advice to boost your imagination… simplify. Empty out those stale thoughts and let your mind become a clean oasis for new ideas.

Oscar Wilde

Here are tips for the next time you are feeling a little bit creatively impotent and need to get those juices flowing

TRY: STARTING WITH SMALLER CREATIVE CHALLENGES.

(Why, hello macramé… it’s been a while.)

{ MEDITATE } THE ACT PROMOTES DIVERGENT THINKING, WHICH IS A HELPFUL PROCESS OF GENERATING IDEAS BY EXPLORING MANY POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS. THIS HELPS THE ‘THINKING’ TO BE SPONTANEOUS AND FREE-FLOWING. PSYCHOLOGISTS HAVE EVEN PROVEN THAT DIVERGENT THINKING IS A CLOSER GUARANTEE FOR CREATIVITY THAN SOMEONE’S IQ. BE DIVERGENT. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ALLOW YOUR BRAIN TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF ITS’ CONTAINER, BE CURIOUS, PERSISTENT AND WILLING TO TAKE RISKS.

TRY: TAKING A YOGA CLASS OR SITTING QUIETLY IN A SUNNY PARK.

 

{ WRITE THINGS DOWN } TIME TO PUT PEN TO PAPER! LITERALLY. MY ADVICE IS TO SHUT DOWN YOUR COMPUTER, CTRL-Q THE MICROSOFT WORD AND PICK UP A PEN. MAKE IT A SENSORY EXPERIENCE; THE SMELL OF THE NOTEBOOK, THE FLOW OF THE INK, THE FEEL OF THE PAPER. THE ACT OF WRITING HELPS TO CLARIFY YOUR THOUGHTS AND WHEN YOU WRITE BY HAND, THE BRAIN PROCESSES AT A MORE CONCENTRATED RATE AND REMAINS MORE ALERT. GO OUT AND BUY A NEW NOTEBOOK OR DUST OFF AN OLD ONE AND KEEP IT AT YOUR READY FOR BURSTS OF INSPIRATION.

TRY: CARRYING A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU. EVERYWHERE. ANY TIME AN IDEA POPS UP, WRITE IT DOWN.

{ WORK IN A PRODUCTIVE ATMOSPHERE } NEED TO GET THOSE “JUICES” STIMULATED? SET UP SHOP IN AN AREA WITH AN INTELLECTUAL BUZZ; PERHAPS A CAFE , LIBRARY OR LOCAL CAMPUS LOUNGE. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH BUSY PEOPLE AND THE POWER OF OTHERS LEARNING AND THINKING ALL AROUND YOU MAY JUST RUB OFF. PERHAPS YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO LIKES TO FESTER IDEAS IN A QUIETER PLACE – THEN SET UP A NOOK IN YOUR HOME DEDICATED TO “GETTING INSPIRED”. FILL IT WITH THINGS THAT STIMULATE YOU CREATIVELY; BOOKS, QUOTES, PICTURES, MAGAZINES, PENS AND NOTEBOOKS… ALL AT YOUR READY.

TRY: WORKING FROM A LOCAL LIBRARY OR SETTING UP YOUR OWN CREATIVITY NOOK.

{ KEEP PLAYING } REMEMBER HOW ACTIVE YOUR IMAGINATION WAS WHEN YOU WERE 7 YEARS OLD? IT CAN BE EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL TO TAP BACK INTO THAT. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DAYDREAM AND GET LOST AMONGST YOUR THOUGHTS. ALLOW YOUR IDEAS  TO STREAM THROUGH YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS AND BE NONSENSICAL, FREE-FLOWING AND VOID OF JUDGEMENT – JUST LIKE THEY WERE WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD. PLAY STIMULATES OUR IMAGINATIONS AND AROUSES CURIOSITY, WHICH IN TURN CAN LEAD TO DISCOVERY. WHO KNOWS?! YOUR INNER CHILD MAY BE THE KEY TO YOUR NEXT BIG IDEA.

TRY: FINDING AN ACTIVITY THAT MAKES YOU FEEL SOME CHILDHOOD NOSTALGIA AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO TAKE A MENTAL TRIP BACK IN TIME.

{ SET LIMITATIONS } ON THE CONTRARY, IT CAN ALSO BE A GOOD PRACTICE TO SET CREATIVE RESTRICTIONS. THIS PROCESS CAN FORCE YOU TO THINK OUTSIDE OF YOUR NORMAL THOUGHT PATTERN. FOR EXAMPLE, DID YOU KNOW THAT DR. SUESS’ “GREEN EGGS & HAM”  WAS CREATED BECAUSE HIS EDITOR DARED HIM TO PRODUCE AN ENTIRE BOOK IN UNDER 50 WORDS? OR, THAT THE CEO OF SONY CHALLENGED HIS RESEARCH LAB TO INVENT A TAPE PLAYER THE SIZE OF A SMALL PIECE OF WOOD WHICH HE PULLED FROM HIS POCKET AND VOILA! – THE CREATION OF THE SONY WALKMAN. SOMETIMES WHEN YOU PUT A LIMIT ON YOUR WORK, YOUR BRAIN WILL FIND NEW WAYS AROUND THE CREATIVE PARAMETERS YOU HAVE SET. WELL, WHO DOESN’T LIKE A CHALLENGE? YOU MAY JUST LIKE GREEN EGGS & HAM, I SAY. “TRY THEM, TRY THEM, AND YOU MAY!” – DR. SUESS.

TRY: SETTING STRICT CREATIVE GUIDELINES AND CREATING WITHIN THOSE BOUNDARIES.

{ GET MOTIVATED } THINK BACK TO A TIME WHEN YOU WERE DOING YOUR BEST WORK. MOST LIKELY YOU WERE UTTERLY ABSORBED IN WHAT YOU WERE CREATING AND COMPLETELY FOCUSED ON THE WORK ITSELF AND EVEN UNAWARE OF THE PASSING OF TIME. THIS TYPE OF INITIATIVE IS KNOWN AS INTRINSIC MOTIVATION, WHICH LEADS TO A HIGH LEVEL OF CREATIVE THINKING. ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME IMMERSED IN SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL EXTREMELY PASSIONATE , THAT YOU CAN REALLY SINK YOUR TEETH INTO AND SAVOUR. TAKE TIME TO VIEW AND ABSORB THE WORK OF OTHERS. THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS COULD BECOME A CATALYST FOR A FUTURE CREATION OF YOUR OWN. HOWEVER, REMEMBER NOT TO CONSTANTLY COMPARE YOUR WORK – YOUR IDEAS AND CREATIONS ARE UNIQUELY YOURS – NO ONE ELSE’S. LASTLY, SET DEADLINES FOR YOURSELF AND DISPLAY THEM IN A PLACE WHERE YOUR EYES WILL FALL UPON THEM DAILY. GIVE YOURSELF REMINDERS TO GET MOVING AND KEEP PUTTING THAT PEN TO PAPER!

TRY: GOING TO AN ART GALLERY TO GET INSPIRED OR LEAVING YOURSELF VISUAL DEADLINE REMINDERS.

 

Pablo Picasso

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