I was taking a walk the other night weaving and roaming through very different areas of town not normally visited by the average person out for a stroll. My goal was to get an hour of fresh air to clear my thinker, which works far better than you might suppose.
The journey took me past multi-million dollar homes, a homeless person sleeping on a hammock strung up between two park trees, and a curious person who wanted to know what creatives should do to keep fresh.
A smile came over my face as I shared my Top Ten List:
10. Change Your Place and Pace
To alter your perspective it’s always good to change your place and your pace. Putting yourself in front of people you haven’t yet met will also give you an opportunity to stretch your perceptions to new ideas and viewpoints. When my family was young we attended a church made up of over 70 different nationalities. During my travels overseas I stayed with locals every chance I got.
Being in a new place that moves at a different pace than what I’m accustomed to creates a plethora of benefits. Add to this the interaction with people in accordance to their culture, always gives me a fresh perspective. And sometimes, just a simple walk around the local lake is sufficient to clear my thoughts.
9. See Activities as Productions
Viewing social and work activities as things that add or detract from your brand of creativity is essential to productivity. Social? Productivity? “How do the two relate?” you ask. Well, creatives use both sides of their brain. The right side is where their genius comes from, while the left side allows them to manage their business.
Everything they touch must be modular and seen as a production requiring both the creative inspiration and the methodical process to finish the project. When all of the creative’s work is segmented into projects, he is free to jump around between them in his mind when he is relaxed or socializing. This shift in perspective fuels the creative genius and generates solutions far more powerfully than planned brainstorming sessions can provide, although done properly, brainstorming can work wonders, too.
8. Reduce Ideas to Writing
Ideas pop into my mind at lightning speeds and disappear once the next distraction or greater idea pops up. By making sure some form of the idea is quickly reduced to writing ensures that I have a trigger point to regenerate the idea for further exploration. Without a handy note, the busyness of the day can slow my recall for several hours or even days.
Most creatives I know use a creative journal, commonplace book, lookbook, capture book, or vision board. Most business people I know use Evernote or OneNote software. I’ve used all the above depending on the project. Anything will work to collect the information you want to keep for further use in one place.
7. Capture All Feelings
All forms of artistry are able to directly impact the culture when it is emotionally charged. To that end, it’s important for creatives to capture the feelings they experience and what happened to elicit the response. By collecting these expressions for study, the creative is able to explore various methods or techniques to become an added tool in their entertainment belt.
A commonplace book can be a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and the feelings the information generates. The captured notes of expressions can be organized for later use in your writing, speaking or other art forms.
6. Kill the Mediocre
A writer’s group I attended recommended we “kill our darlings.” The reference was to get rid of those little scenes that we personally adore, but don’t move the story forward. Killing the mediocre is also vital to the life of any creative project. Items on the Internet need to regrab the individual’s attention far more often than an orchestra playing lakeside at sunset.
I’ve been called my worst critic on more than one occasion. While my budget typically determines the quality of my projects, my desire for adventure makes sure I avoid boredom at all costs. I have no problem dropping complete scenes in films if I feel boredom slowly sneaking into my life while viewing the piece. I’d rather drop the scene than lose the audience. Most everything that is not excellent must be cut.
5. Build Posterity
I’m amazed at how the works of Mark Twain have survived several lifetimes. Even some of his quips out lasted his life as quotes, crossing into another century thanks to great orators. The concept of developing an idea and presenting it in a way that future generations can admire and grow from is a wonderful legacy and worth achieving when the subject matter permits.
Posterity can only happen when a creative puts a great deal of thought into the universal truths we all face. Those truths shall always out live the test of time since every generation deals with the same issues in its own unique way. During my childhood I read a comic book about cloning. Later in life I learned about cloned animals being used for mass produced foods. Recently I read about medications made through the DNA splicing process that can pinpoint only disease ridden cells. The human condition that forces us to consider whether or not cloning is good or bad for society will be around for decades to come. Therefore any works created that addresses the decision process will be timeless.
4. Fail Upward
I like to see “the artistry of mistakes” (a title from one of my future books) in all of my goof ups and foolish moments because most come directly from my heart. There seems to be a seed of creativity within my errors that will be cultivated into something special later in life, since all things have an opportunity to be redeemed.
The very concept of failing upward suggests that we can learn from our mistakes, and we can stumble across new ideas that we would never consider without our initial bumbling idea that humorously caught our attention. I’ve learned that my greatest works were birthed from my greatest pains—a subject all creatives must embrace.
3. Stylize Your Projects
Branding your projects is essential for people to learn about what’s important that’s birthed from within your soul. For the audience to see your heart, they must see your flair. It’s the creative touch from a passionate heart that attracts a following or fandom, which eventually pays the bills. Creatives must be found before they can inspire others and a creative’s style is his calling card.
It is easy to see when the creation of a stylized product came directly from the artist’s heart. It’s like a fingerprint that makes it theirs. I’ve heard numerous speakers that are really good, but the thing that distinguishes one from another is the amount of heart or passion they put into their subject. The more stylized a person is in their heartfelt presentations, the harder it is for them to present something that isn’t truly theirs. I’ve seen the disconnect become more obvious with speakers that use ghostwriters and filmmakers who direct a script that they don’t believe in.
2. Share the Wow
According to eMarketer Pro, the average adult spends 12 hours and 7 minutes a day consuming media. There are over 5,000 new television productions and 600 movies released every year in America. The audience has gotten so good at “reading” media that they are no longer impressed unless the creative takes them somewhere they haven’t been, shows them something they’ve never seen, or revealed an angle of an idea they’ve never considered. To get their attention, the creative must share something that wows.
Pixar came onto the scene with a product that caused everyone to say, “Wow!” When Toy Story 2 was in development, the team had in mind to make an inexpensive follow up video that would quickly add money to the coffers. The thrown together story was terrible and the creative team finally decided to rework it, breaking their goal for achieving a quick, cheap money making product. Adding more time to the production schedule, the team focused on making sure each sequence had a wow factor. By the time the film was ready, they shifted from a video to a theatrical release that generated a far greater income than the original film.
1. Make it Meaningful
The worst words for a creative to hear from their audience is, “That’s nice.” The best words would touch on how the art stirred the person’s heart or changed their direction in life. To receive this type of encouragement, the creative must be vulnerable and put their heart into their story or production. And, the story must have something meaningful in it, which is why Oscar contenders always touch on society’s greatest barriers.
That’s not to say that a fun adventurous story can’t be meaningful, it can. The best way to encourage a person is through fun and entertainment that opens their mind to consideration. In the 1620s the meaning for the word entertain or entertainment was “to allow (something) to consideration, take into the mind.” This referred to the person being entertained to consider the notion or opinion shared within the entertainment. The more meaningful the theme or story was, the more it directly impacted the way the person thought going forward.
When creatives focus on the above Top Ten List of TO-DOs, they succeed in articulating, whether visually, orally, or in writing, their heart and the direction or journey they feel others should travel. A creative’s art becomes the cornerstone of change in their community, whether global, national, or local.