Posted April 8th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by Tanner Christensen
“I don’t feel very creative.”
Whenever I hear someone say that (or when I catch myself thinking it) I ask the question: what are you working on that allows you to be creative?
If you’re not tackling a creativity-invoking project at work or on the side – or if you’re not attempting to do something out of the ordinary as a hobby or out of sheer tinkering – then you’re not going to feel creative. We call this “routine.”
There’s unfortunately a common confusion between not being creative and not having something to creatively explore.
The former is a fallacy anyway, of course you’re creative. Anyone with a healthy mind has the capacity to be creative under the right circumstances.
Not having something that allows you to express yourself creatively is typically what causes us to feel uncreative, even though it’s not true.
The solution to feeling uncreative is straightforward enough: find something new to work on.
It can be anything. Big or small, a project at work or school or a side project. Something for money or fame or simply to scratch a childish itch of wonder.
The old saying from Picasso makes a lot of sense in this context: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Find something new to work on, something you can really explore, and you’ll discover you had a lot of creative potential wound-up inside of you anyway, you simply didn’t have any way to express it.
Don’t wait for the right project either, start now with your next idea (or a past one).
Posted April 7th, 2014 at 12:57 pm by Tanner Christensen
Your job as a creative worker is to make space around where solutions might be.
Unfortunately we often mistake the role of the creative to be that of someone who finds the answers, who comes up with the ideal solution. Thinking that creativity is solution-driven like this restricts what’s possible.
When we set out to find a solution we miss the opportunity to see all of the other possible solutions that exist just outside where we’re looking. Our focus and intent restricts us.
Instead, the role of creativity is to make elaborate spaces around where solutions or answers might be, then letting the picture we paint show us where the novel solutions lie.
Like putting together a puzzle without knowing what the end result will be. Eventually you’ll start to see the bigger picture. It’s harder to do if you think you already know what the picture looks like, however. You may be wrong. So, instead, you shouldn’t look for answers, but instead explore all of the pieces of the puzzle.
To do this, we have to create vast environments that allow for play, that encourage experimentation, and which empower us to be resourceful.
If you’re a creative individual, your task isn’t to come up with one solution or idea. Stop thinking that it is.
Your focus should be on exploring the world (both literally and figuratively) around the work. Explore, ask questions, poke and prod, tinker, doodle, discuss, and relax.
Working this way makes it easier for the best ideas – the truly original and valuable ones – to appear on their own.
Remember that you’re not looking for an answer, you’re looking for all the pieces.
“You think the perfect book is anything written by anyone else. Your ongoing conversation with yourself is: You’re not enough. So whatever you do will never be enough. Every human being has some flavor of ‘not enough.’ You can either be stopped by it, or simply notice it, like the weather.”
Excellent weekend read on procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, and busyness. I’ll finish the dishes when I’m dead
Posted April 4th, 2014 at 10:02 am by Tanner Christensen
“In all creative work, there is a balance between what you want to give the world and what the world needs: if you’re lucky, your work is in the middle.”
The always great Austin Kleon in his interview with The Great Discontent.
Posted April 2nd, 2014 at 11:52 am by Tanner Christensen
Posted April 2nd, 2014 at 9:15 am by Tanner Christensen
Creative insights come as a result of a delicate balance of focus.
Your brain must be focused enough on the task at hand to make progress, but also have enough space from the work in order for new connections and valuable insights to occur. Fortunately we know exactly what affects our ability to focus while still having creative insights occur.
Our level of energy, our motivation, our natural curiosity around the work, our resourcefulness, all impact and drive our creative balance.
Finding that balance is what separates the creative greats from the average Joe down the block.
While the amateur creative struggles to find a balance between overwhelming exhaustion and unproductive drive, the professional simply works hard enough over years to know exactly where his or her balancing is at best.
The professional knows when they need a full night of sleep versus when they can risk an all-nighter to produce their creative work. The amateur has to take a gamble and learn from the experience.
Unfortunately the balance that creativity requires is unique for every one of us. It’s not something you can read about online or in a book and instantly understand. Nobody can tell you when you need more energy or when you need to rough it out. You can’t be told when you need to be more resourceful or when you need bigger or better tools.
You have to figure it out on your own.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to find your own balance by doing creative work, experimenting, and being mindful of what drives you and what makes you feel unbalanced.
If you haven’t been paying attention to when you’re at your best or when you’re at your worst, today is a good time to start.
If you have an iPhone, here’s one way to do just that.
Photo by Heiko Brinkmann.
“The first rule of creative work: expect to be rejected…No matter what you do, if you’re making something, many people won’t like it. The only approval you need to create something is your own.”
Scott Berkun on what to do if the world hates your idea
Posted March 28th, 2014 at 8:51 am by Tanner Christensen