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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Be Creative on Demand

The Blush Bullet

Artists, writers, and creative folks of all kinds, know all too well the anxiety and pressure that comes with being expected to be creative on the demand.  People who are seemingly creative all the time, follow these 5 tips to keep up appearances.

1. Start. Anywhere.

In the art world its the big, bad and scary "Blank Page" syndrome, also known as writer's block or the negative mojo that is blocking your creativity. In any case, it halts all imagination and exploration because open-endedness. The fix? Just start. Anywhere. Make a mark, write a word,  jump up and down. The secret weapon:  the power of starting over. Its rare that the first idea makes it to the end untouched. That first idea, the first mark, the first word, will go through rounds of editing and changes in the end. So what are you afraid of? Just start.

2.  Let Go of the Fear of Failing.

This goes hand in hand with number one. I see it all the time in my elementary kiddos during our art time together. They are afraid to fail. We base our education and our life styles on the idea that failing is bad. I often have to stop kids from asking if they can make a mark here, add this color there. When I tell them , "Of course! Its your artwork," their eyes widen with confusion that there is not one right way to do it. There is value in failing because you learn from it. There are piles of quotes from very famous, creative, ingenious people that speak on the importance of failure; by far my favorite comes from Henry Ford: "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely." Let go of the idea that it should be perfect the first time, because it won't be.

3. Get out. Try new things.

Exposing yourself to new ideas, new art, new music, new experiences puts you in the perfect position for being creative. The lack of creativity is really the feeling of running out of ideas. The more perspectives, cultures, experiences, and ideas you expose yourself to, the more creative you can be. It doesn't need to be completely outside of your comfort zone (although its highly recommended) for example if you typically work in watercolor, push yourself to take a ceramics class. The most creative people do new things all the time to keep their minds fresh.

4. Keep a Record.

When inspiration does hit, have a way to keep track of it and keep it with you at all times. This could be a sketchbook for drawings, a notebook for story ideas, or a voice recording of notes to the new melody that strikes you. You can't plan for inspiration to show up when its convenient. So you have to adapt to how inspiration typically appears to you, by being ready to record the fleeting moment. Next time you're in a slump and your creative juices are less than flowing, pull out your notebook and remind yourself just how brilliant you are.

5. Work Small. 

Starting with something small, literally. This will show you just how many ideas you have. Limit yourself to a small scrap of paper, or to tell a story in three sentences. Setting perimeters like this forces you to problem solve and therefore to be creative. If I give a student a large blank piece of white paper, they have no idea where to start. (Again with the blank page syndrome)  If I give a student a small piece of gray paper, suddenly they don't have enough room to execute their many ideas. Interesting how also changing the color of the paper slightly, takes away the pressure of the glaring white blankness shining right at you. Even if it isn't the most brilliant work you have ever created, it is something you can finish. Those little completions add up, giving you a bit of an ego boost and get the ball rolling.

The trick to these tips being useful and successful is to use them on a regular basis. Keep your mind fresh and always ready to create something amazing.

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