Creativity has the potential to solve problems facing humankind, like how do I communicate something I want to? And what do I want to say? Or practical like how do I find a good idea to work with? Or for the student above, how does a machine with slime coming out of it make a cake? It’s just a matter of following a few steps to get those creative juices flowing.
1. Think about one problem you would like to solve
In practice, creativity is an act of creation, and for each person the arrival at the point of the new and interesting solution is different. Some have a moment where they have felt they are channelling a divine spirit, like an epiphany, or it comes about as the result of meditation. For others it can be an expression of deep emotions such as Francis Bacon’s attempt to paint ‘the pain of existence’. Isacc Newton, would spend a long time researching, experimenting and thinking before coming to a conclusion. The point that creativity becomes most highly valued is where it builds upon current knowledge – be that cultural, scientific or practical. You are adding your voice through expression, or solving a scientific problem, or improving an aspect of everyday life. And the fact of the matter is, all of us have the potential to be creative.
2. Research, meditate, think, draw, talk
One of the most important parts of being creative is not judging your creative work negatively. Put everything on the table, do not hold back your ideas. Think of anyway you can get inside the problem. Do drawings, mind maps, doodles, describe the problem, use descriptive words, talk to people about it. Do not make decisions during this time, it’s an information gathering or experimentation phase, where you are building up reference information. This is the time to think of the new layout for a garden, or website, and draw them, and think about as many different versions as you can. Collect a Pintrest page of ideas for your project, a ‘vision board’ and think about what you like about each image or idea. What is the most inspiring? What has it’s hooks in you? What do you keep coming back to?
3. Think outside and around the problem
Think about ‘without any constraints at all, how would I like to solve my problem?’ Don’t worry about reality here at all, don’t think about what might hold you back, just think about how great the solution should be. What’s the end game? How can you take steps to get there? Here knowledge, skills and experience will play a strong part in the possibilities you can imagine, but can also be a bit of a trap to free thinking. Find a quiet place and dream! If you approached the idea from a different angle would that change anything? For example are you thinking clearly about why the user is coming to the website you are wanting to build, or the back story to the character you might be designing. Look again at your inspiration, try a new idea, do a new mind map to explore any issues that you come up against.
4. Refine the ideas
Next you should work on refining your ideas, think about either discounting those really unrealistic ones or alternatively going for it, knowing the challenges you will face. Get feedback from anyone and everyone, if you have someone who is your biggest critic, ask them for feedback. They may not provide anything useful, or they may point out a glaring hole in your thinking. Challenge yourself to rise to the occasion to defend your plan or think about what they said and really analyse if it is true in any way. Feedback is so useful because if one person will actually say their feedback to you, others will think it. It’s important to reflect on what feedback has been given to you in a non egotistical way. You are searching for the best outcome here. Iteration is an important step here too. Make that website, or do that drawing or start that novel. Then review it, see how people use the website or how they interpret your drawing, read the novel out loud, or record it and listen back to it. Learn from the obvious errors and successes you can pick up from the first time, and ask for feedback again. It could be good to seek out advice from a mentor or teacher or experienced professional who does what you are trying to do.
5. Have courage to keep going
This is the most important one, as when you put your creative idea out there you are asking to be heard. If someone disagrees with your plan, don’t feel discouraged or hurt, they may simply not be your audience, and not able to see your vision. There are many times I have suggested things to several groups of people and had really differing responses. This is normal. Some people may not understand your ideas at all, but keep going. You never know when the one you need to hear you is right there listening.
6. Hard work
Most of the time amazing creative breakthroughs come out of hard work, collaboration and immersion in subjects. Always remember that failure is your friend – it enables you to look for other solutions. Keep pushing through, make proper plans, keep building and make a timeline for what you want to achieve. Is it an idea to consider education to get your skills up, there are free courses out there, who are the thought leaders in your area and what can you learn from them. Stay positive and keep trying, that is the only key to succeeding at something.
7. Know when to quit
Although not popular to talk about, there are times when you have to let something go. This can be painful if you have invested in the ideas, but you can use what you have learned for your next project. Stay positive, life is an adventure.