The perfect formula for creativity


We live in a time where fast money, quick success, and gimmicky tactics are marketed as the only thing you need to be happy and fulfilled.

It’s a mentality that is seen all too often when it comes to creativity as well, unfortunately. And I think it’s a path to creative failure.

Suddenly, with the massive growth of the Internet, we – as creatives ” tend to worship processes, formulates, and techniques that we read in books, or on blogs and websites, or that we see on videos, or that we get by paying someone to teach us.

But is this the right way to pursue creativity?

I can’t tell you how often I’m asked: “What’s the secret to creativity?” Or: “What is the best way to be really creative?”

The problem with these questions is that there isn’t a single answer. At least, not for the creative population at large. There is no Universal process to creativity. No scientific formula for having ideas. No guaranteed path of success. Try as we might to systematize it, creativity works differently for everyone. There is no ultimate secret or “best way” to be creative because of this fact.

One big thing I’ve learned over the last few years is this: yes, there are things you can do to empower creativity, and yes there are certain activities and processes that can help fuel ideation, but at the end of the day what works for one person may not work for you.

There is no package you can buy to make you more creative. No amount of videos on YouTube will make you aware of some super-secret and successful technique for being creative. There is no number of books that can assure you the ability to unlock some hidden creative potentially.

Simply because not all of those proposed techniques can work for everyone.

For example: the restless painter may get more from a spur-of-the-moment early morning painting session than the calm and strategic writer would get from attempting to randomly write at 1 am. No, in this scenario the writer would get more done by sticking to a set routine and creative schedule, while the painter would absolutely not.

It’s not that one process is universally right or better than the other, but in the case of the individual: it is.

So we, as creatives, have to find the processes that work best for us. The only way to do that is to try different things.

The real trick to being more creative is understanding how creativity works for you, individually. By reading websites and blogs and books, and intently listening to those TED video talks, and by asking a lot of questions, and consulting with people like myself, not to figure out some ultimate secret, but to figure out what works best for you.

Does setting a regular creative routine work for you? It doesn’t at all for me. What about creativity exercises, do you find that they give you the boost of inspiration you need to do creative work? I love doing creative exercises, because they do get me thinking creatively, but they may feel like a waste of time for you.

I don’t want you to read articles like this, or see a book that claims it can help you be more creative overnight and have you think that it’s true. Because, in almost every case: it’s not.

What is true is that all these various resources can show you a path, it’s your job to figure out whether or not it’s the right path for you.

If you’re a leader of a creative team, this wisdom is especially important. Finding each individual team member’s process for working and thinking can make all the difference between a successful team and a failing one. You have to guide them on their terms, not your own.

So go find what works for you, and remember: there are so many different options and techniques that you should never stop experimenting with new ones. Even if you find something that seems to work really well, there may be something out there that works even better.

Go find your own inspiration.