On Being Creative by Diana Rosen
Being creative is a frequently misunderstood term. The general consensus is that one has to be in the arts but that simply isn’t true.
Being creative in business, engineering, science, medicine and so many other disciplines, means looking at the ordinary and thinking up extraordinary ways to make goods or services more efficient, more beautiful, more cost effective, better.
Being creative means using all the tools you already have: imagination, problem solving, being open to what is and what could be if only you are willing to try another way.
And, just because someone is in the arts doesn’t automatically designate him or her as creative. Many interior designers produce dull rooms; some artists draw ordinary images; too many writers plagiarize rather than conceive something fresh and new, or a director offers a static tale instead of engaging the audience with a powerful combination of theatrical elements.
How can you think more creatively and fire up your creativity no matter what your field of endeavor?
Here are a few universal applications to consider:
What’s the problem? Do customers make the same complaints over and over again? Does something keep breaking that should not? Do you lack repeat customers for what should be on-going sales? Does the design lack “oomph” or style? You’ve identified the problem! Admitting you have one is the first step in finding a creativity solution for it. Identifying what it is the second step. You’re on your way.
Brainstorm. Circle the wagons and tap into the collective brain trust of your colleagues. Or, better yet, arrange a focus group with your customers and ask for their input in make your product or service better. Then, most importantly, implement the changes needed.
Follow your hunch. Sometimes it’s so difficult to figure out what isn’t working in as subjective a creation as a play, painting or a dance. Your gut says, “Something’s off, something’s missing, but what?” That might mean “killing the darlings” that you love but that don’t work in the overall scheme of the work. Cut. Edit. Re-shape. Re-write or re-choreograph or re-score the songs.
Mix things up! Writers, take heed: make the ending the beginning, take scenes or characters out, or make up new ones. For movement or music work, change the tempo, add or delete lyrics, re-think the stage design. If the foot’s not tapping, the audience is not leaning in, amp it up!
Take a break. Nap. Walk around the block. Do the laundry. Visit a seashore or a zoo, any place that’s totally unrelated to your project. Tickle your brain with new sounds, images, the tastes of a new cuisine. You’ll be refreshed and the solutions will rise to the surface.
Consult with those who have more expertise. The project is always “the thing” so drop the drama, file the ego away, ask for help. People love to provide advice and love to see you succeed. Ask experts in your field for solutions. Read authoritative books. View appropriate how-to videos. Sometimes the answer to a creative solution is having more knowledge of your craft, a few more skills.
Talk to children. No one is more innocent of preconceived ideas, more wiling to take risks or more imaginative than a child. They’ll spot the music in words, or the lack of it; they’ll fidget at the boring parts of any art. Best of all, they love gadgets intuitively designed (we all know three-year-olds who can work a remote, right?) If you’re working on stories for children, it’s an absolute must to read your story to as many kids as possible. Stand back, they’ll tell you what works … or not.
Being creative means considering, then taking, the possibility of an idea, another angle, a different formula/sound/color/shape/form, and throwing preconceptions out the window.
Being creative is just a few steps away. Take the next step. Be wacky. Be wild. Begin.